Wood-Roasted Beets with Oranges and Whipped Ricotta


Light, fresh and a little bit sweet, this salad veers into dessert territory in the best possible way. Try swapping blood oranges for the navels if you can find them.

Serves 4–6 

4 small navel oranges
4 to 6 medium golden or Chioggia beets
2 to 3 sprigs rosemary
olive oil, for drizzling
2 cups whole-milk ricotta cheese
2 tablespoons heavy cream
2 tablespoons honey, plus more for drizzling
½ cup toasted walnuts, skins rubbed off and chopped
2 to 3 tablespoons chopped mint leaves
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste 

Remove the zest from 1 orange and set aside. Cut the zested fruit into ½-inch slices and place in a large bowl with the beets and rosemary sprigs. Drizzle with olive oil, add a pinch of salt and toss to coat. Spread out a large piece of aluminum foil on your workspace and transfer the mixture to the center of the foil. Fold into a packet and use another layer of foil if needed to fully contain and enclose the mixture. Place packet in the coals of the fire for about 1 hour, or until the beets yield easily when poked with the tip of a knife. Set aside.

Place the ricotta in a bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or use a hand mixer) and mix on medium speed for a minute. Add the cream in a slow stream and beat to combine. Add honey, reserved zest and a pinch of salt. Beat for about 4 minutes, until thickened and smooth. Taste and adjust as needed.

When ready, remove the beets from the coals and discard the oranges and rosemary. Peel the beets and cut them into ¼-inch slices.

Cut the peels off of the remaining oranges and cut into ¼-inch-thick slices. Spread the ricotta in a thick layer on a platter, then arrange the beets and oranges in an alternating layer over the cheese. Drizzle with a little olive oil and honey and sprinkle on the walnuts and mint leaves. Finish with a sprinkle of salt and a few grinds of pepper, if desired. Serve at room temperature.


This story appeared in the Winter 2019 issue.

LEIGH BELANGER is a cookbook author, writer and editor. Her second cookbook, My Kitchen Chalkboard, about seasonal meal planning and family dinners, came out in May 2018. Leigh's personal chef and kitchen coaching service, Salt & Lemons, help families eat better at home. Find more of her work at saltandlemons.net.