For a delicious variation on this salad, check your local cheese shop or specialty-foods market for burrata, a fresh mozzarella cheese filled with cream and curds. Its melting texture makes it a delicious counterpoint to the earthiness of beets and the bite of watercress in this salad.
Beet and Watercress Salad with Fresh Mozzarella
1 1/2 to 1 3/4 lb. (750 to 875 g) baby red and/or golden beets, or striped Chioggia beets, trimmed
2 Tbs. champagne vinegar
1 tsp. grated orange zest
2 Tbs. fresh orange juice
Salt and freshly ground pepper
3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 lb. (125 g) watercress, tough stems removed
1 lb. (500 g) fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into thin wedges
Preheat an oven to 400°F (200°C).
Wrap the beets in aluminum foil, making a separate packet for each color, and roast until the beets can be pierced easily with a knife, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Unwrap and let cool. Gently peel the beets, cut into quarters and put in a small bowl.
In a large bowl, whisk together the vinegar, orange zest and juice and 1/2 tsp. salt. Add the oil in a thin stream, whisking constantly until the dressing is smooth. Pour half of the dressing over the beets and stir to coat. Add the watercress to the remaining dressing and toss to coat.
Arrange the watercress on individual plates or on one large platter, and top with beets. Arrange the cheese around the beets and drizzle with any remaining vinaigrette. Season with a few grindings of pepper and serve immediately. Serves 4.
Find more vibrant and versatile salads for every season in our
cookbook Salad of the Day, by Georgeanne Brennan.