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closeup shot of roasted beet and fennel salad with avocado and citrus

Roasted Beet and Fennel Salad with Walnut Bread Crumbs

Nisha Vora
This roasted beet and fennel salad is popping with freshness and lots of flavor. Featuring crispy walnut bread crumbs, lots of fresh herbs, and an easy citrus vinaigrette. It's THE salad to make you fall in love with salads.
5 from 13 votes
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Roasting Time 1 hr
Total Time 30 mins
Cuisine Mediterranean, New American
Servings 4 (main); 8 (side)

Ingredients
  

  • 3 medium red or golden beets (about 12 to 15 ounces, 340-430g)
  • 2 medium fennel bulbs (reserve fronds for salad)
  • Extra virgin olive oil (for roasting)
  • Kosher salt or sea salt
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 small lemon, zested and juiced
  • 1/3 cup (38g) raw walnuts, finely chopped
  • cup (25g) panko bread crumbs**
  • ½ teaspoon Aleppo pepper (or ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes)
  • ½ teaspoon flaky or coarse sea salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 cup cooked chickpeas, (if canned, drained and rinsed)**
  • ½ cup (6g) flat-leaf Italian parsley, chopped
  • ¼ cup (3-4g) fresh dill, finely chopped
  • 1 medium orange (zest it for the dressing, then peel & cut into bite-sized pieces for the salad)
  • 1 large ripe avocado, cut into small chunks

Citrus Vinaigrette

  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon lemon zest
  • ½ teaspoon orange zest
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard or whole grain mustard, plus more to taste
  • teaspoon sweet or hot paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
  • Freshly cracked black pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup (only if needed to balance the tartness)

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 425°F/218°C.
  • Prep the beets. Trim off the beet greens and most of the stalks (leave some of the stalk intact to prevent beets from “bleeding” in the oven). Do not trim the beet tails (it results in less juicy beets). Wash and scrub the beets clean. Very lightly rub the beets with olive oil.
  • Roast the beets. Place the beets in an ovenproof casserole-style or baking dish (or Dutch oven) and pour water into the pan to go ¼-inch (.6 cm) up the sides. Cover the pan with its lid or aluminum foil. Roast for 45-90 minutes, depending on the size of your beets, or until fork-tender.
    Medium-sized beets usually take 50 to 60 minutes, larger beets up to 90 minutes.
  • Roast the fennel (this can be done simultaneously with the beets). Slice the stalks off from the fennel bulbs. Pick off the fronds and reserve. Slice each bulb in half vertically, then slice horizontally into wedges (1/3 to 1/2 inch thick).
    Toss the wedges with 1 ½ - 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a rimmed sheet pan. Roast for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the fennel is tender on the inside and browned on the edges.
    For the fennel fronds, chop 2 to 3 tablespoons worth and set aside for the salad.
  • When the beets are cool enough to touch, run them under cool water and peel off the skins (wear gloves if you don’t want to stain your hands). Cut the stems off and discard. Slice the beets thinly into half-moons or thin rounds (if beets are large, thinly slice into quarters).
  • Make the walnut bread crumbs. Heat a medium or large frying pan over medium heat. After a minute or two, add 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil and the chopped walnuts. Cook for 90 seconds, stirring frequently to prevent burning. Add the panko and stir continuously for 2 minutes. Add the remaining Aleppo pepper or red pepper flakes and flaky salt. Cook for another 30 seconds until very aromatic. Take off the heat and transfer to a plate, spread out, and allow to cool.
  • Make the citrus vinaigrette. Add the olive oil, lemon juice, mustard, and paprika to a jar with a lid. Add the reserved lemon zest and the orange zest from the salad to the jar. Screw on the lid and shake until emulsified. Taste for seasonings, adding salt and pepper as needed. If too acidic, add a bit of maple syrup and shake again.
    You can also add the ingredients to a bowl and whisk until emulsified.
  • Assemble the salad. Transfer roasted beets and fennel to a large serving bowl. Add the cooked chickpeas. Add ⅔ to ¾ of the walnut bread crumbs, along with 1 teaspoon of the lemon zest, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, the parsley, dill, and reserved fennel fronds and toss to coat. Season with sea salt and pepper.
  • Top with the orange pieces and avocado chunks. Add the vinaigrette and scatter the remaining walnut bread crumbs on top or serve on the side.

Notes

* See "frequently asked questions" for how to make this salad gluten-free. 
**If you wan to make this salad a bit heartier, feel free to add more chickpeas (i.e., use one 15-ounce can instead of just 1 cup). 
Keyword beets, fennel, soy-free, sugar-free, vegan
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