This salad’s citrus dressing combined with the flavor of roasted beets and the crunch of the pumpkin seeds creates a flavor that’s sure to please, making it a super healthy alternative for lunch or dinner.
Do you ever dine out and wonder why restaurant salads seem so much tastier than those prepared at home? It’s because the chef had a certain vision and flavor combination in mind instead of chopping up every veggie in the fridge. I know I’m guilty of the latter eighty percent of the time, but not with this one! The fewer the flavors, the more you actually recognize, taste and appreciate them. I wanted a salad that had a warm feeling, hence the roasted beets, while simultaneously waking up my taste buds, which is where the citrus dressing comes in. Butter lettuce is a great vehicle for the beet and pumpkin seed power couple. Even though there are only four ingredients, this salad is packed with vitamins and minerals that have some pretty powerful effects and there’s even some protein in the mix. If you prepare the beets ahead of time, you can throw this together in five minutes, making it perfect for lunch or a colorful appetizer before dinner.
Quick tip before you begin:
- Roasting beets takes some time, so I usually do this step the night before. I like to roast a bunch of beets at once so I have them in a pinch. You can store roasted beets for up to a week in the fridge.
- Head of butter lettuce
- 4 small beets
- ¼ cup pumpkin seeds
- 4 stems Cilantro
- 2 oranges, juice and zest
- 1 tsp white wine vinegar
- 2 tsp olive oil
- ½ tsp lemon juice
- 1 Tbs parmesan cheese
- 2 shakes of salt and pepper
- Sheet pan
- Aluminum Foil
- Pairing Knife
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. This is a flexible temperature; if you’re cooking something else you can throw them in at that temperature. Cut the leaves off of the beet near the bulb and then scrub them clean. Wrap each individual beet loosely in aluminum foil without drying them off first. Place them on a baking sheet in case they drip. Check on the beets after 25 minutes by sticking a fork through the center. If it goes in easily then they’re finished. The bigger they are the longer they’ll take, but most beets are cooked completely after an hour. Once the beets are finished roasting, take them out of the oven and unwrap them to cool. Once they’re cool enough to be handled, peel them by rubbing them gently with a paper towel or using a pairing knife. The peel should separate quite easily; if it doesn’t then the beets probably need to be a roasted a little longer.
- Next you want to roast the pumpkin seeds. Put them in a small skillet over medium heat. Shuffle them back and forth every two minutes or so until they’re lightly browned. The seeds quickly turn from roasted to scorched so keep an eye on them, it should only take about five minutes.
- While you’re roasting the pumpkin seeds, wash the lettuce and chop up the beets. Pull the leaves off of four or five stems of cilantro and add them to the mix. Top with the warm seeds and your salad is complete.
- Now it’s time to mix up the dressing. Juice two oranges and add a little zest to the juice. Mix in the olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, cheese (leave it out if you want to keep it vegan) and a few shakes of salt and pepper. Whisk it with a fork and give it a taste. Adding a bit more of anything your taste buds think it lacks.
- Pour some dressing over the salad and then cut it with a knife and fork. I think this is the best way to mix all the flavors together, which is why I don’t rip up the lettuce leaves while prepping the salad. Take a big bite and enjoy your fresh and healthy meal.
A note about our star ingredients: If you’re not a beet lover, I’m begging you to give them another chance. Beets are high in vitamins like A, B and C and minerals such as potassium, magnesium, fiber, phosphorus, and iron just to name a few. I’m always looking for ways to get more iron since I eat a veggie heavy diet (otherwise meat is a great source of iron) and that’s where beets and pumpkin seeds come in handy-they’re loaded with iron. Back to the beets, they contain betaine, which is used to help treat depression and tryptophan, which relaxes the mind similar to chocolate. Beets are also an aphrodisiac because they contain high levels of boron, which is directly related to the production human sex hormones, so eat beets and get busy. If all that isn’t enough, I don’t know what I’m going to do with you, but if you come over for dinner be prepared to eat it or beat it!
Now about those pumpkin seeds, you can substitute in another roasted seed or nut, but I chose pumpkin seeds because they’re a good source of vitamin B, E and K and they have loads of iron, magnesium, phosphorus and copper. Like beets, they also contain tryptophan which helps produce serotonin. Pumpkin seeds are also high in zinc, which means they’re a natural protector against osteoporosis. They also add some protein to the salad. The list of benefits goes on, but I don’t want to overwhelm you, just go ahead and pat yourself on the back for treating yourself to this salad.
While you’re chowing down, think of all the great benefits of beets and pumpkin seeds and know that you did something great for yourself today. Even if making a salad is the only thing you did besides sitting in bed, typing posts and dreaming up new recipes. If you’re one of those who thinks a salad won’t cut it for the entire meal, that’s cool and that’s me most days, just whip it up as an appetizer!