Beet, Rhubarb And Citrus Salad on Watercress

(Serves 10)

  • 6 medium beets: 2- to 2 1/2-inch diameter red or yellow beets, 4 of each color if available
  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • Sea salt, coarsely ground
  • 1 cup water
  • ¼  cup sugar
  • 3 lb. trimmed rhubarb stalks, cut diagonally into 1/2-inch-thick slices
  • 6 large oranges
  • 1 Tbsp. unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 4 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 minced shallot
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • 12 cups watercress sprigs
  • 1 cup coarsely crumbled feta cheese
  • Fresh chervil or sorrel leaves (optional)

Preheat oven to 400°.

Place beets on a large sheet of foil. Drizzle with 1 Tbsp. olive oil and sprinkle with coarse salt. Wrap beets in foil. Roast beets until tender when pierced with fork, about 1 hour. Unwrap and cool beets. Peel, then cut each into 8 wedges.

Bring water, sugar, and a pinch of coarse salt to simmer in large saucepan, stirring until sugar dissolves. Add rhubarb. Simmer over medium heat until just tender but still intact, 1 to 2 minutes (do not overcook or rhubarb will be mushy). Using slotted spoon, transfer rhubarb to platter and cool completely. DO AHEAD: Beets and rhubarb can be made 1 day ahead. Cover separately and chill.

Make the dressing:

Finely grate (zest) 1 orange to measure approximately 1 teaspoon. Do this over a bowl that you will make the dressing in, to collect the oils from zesting. Cut off peel and white pith from all oranges. Working over the same zesting  bowl to catch juice and using a small sharp knife, cut between membranes to release orange segments into bowl; squeeze membranes to release juice into bowl. Remove the sliced oranges to a platter. In the bowl with zest and juice, whisk vinegar, lemon juice, shallot, honey and remaining olive oil with orange zest  and orange juice mixture. Season dressing with coarse salt and pepper.

Arrange watercress on plates and top with beets, rhubarb and orange segments. Sprinkle with feta and drizzle with dressing. Garnish with chervil or sorrel leaves, if desired, and serve.

Alternatively, if this is for a buffet, toss a bit of the dressing with the watercress and then top the watercress with the remaining ingredients.

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