Orange Salted Yogurt with Beets, Fennel, and Honey
sometimes you like to get fancy
things you’ll need: yogurt, fennel, shallot, orange juice, salt, pepper, beets, honey, olive oil, and optional flakey salt (maldon or cyprus) for finishing.
inspired by several beet salads, like Beets, Fennel, Oranges, Mint and Goat Cheese and Beet and Whipped Ricotta Salad with Citrus and Other Things If You Want, only make it Dinner Party Fancy
incidentally gluten-free and vegetarian, I think you could do something with cashew cream or vegan yogurt and agave
There is a difference between having people over for dinner and throwing a dinner party. You thought dinner parties might become a once upon a time thing from the days of yore, but you are happy to be wrong (about this, anyway).
Dinner parties involve more spectacle (and silverware), good napkins, and perhaps a jaunty centerpiece. Sometimes it is the exact same food that you always make, only plated better. As a cook, you get to show off a little and let your ego snack on any Ooo and Ahhs.
So this is not that different from that lemon and dill yogurt sauce that you make with salmon and almost exactly like a beet salad you make (all the time) with oranges and fennel, only dressed up in formalwear with a little bling. Since these are flavors you might know well, go with your gut on quantities, depending on how many people are coming over and what you like.
Start with yogurt and a good orange juice (or squeeze your own). Mix yogurt and orange juice until you can really taste the tangy citrus, maybe add a little zest too. Then, add salt and a little white pepper until it becomes something savory rather than sweet.
Grate in (using your trusty microplane) some fennel bulb and a little shallot (also garlic if you like). Give it a taste and adjust where you see fit. Think it needs a bit more acid? Add a few dribbles of white wine vinegar. Let that sit, getting better, while you roast some beets.
Roast some beets. Red or golden or chioggia or whatever. Roast them simply with just a little salt and oil. Roast them whole and peel while hot or peel and then roast. No need to season them much, just let the beets be beets. Once the beets are done, peeled, cooled, and chopped, it’s time to assemble.
Taste your salted yogurt and make any adjustments if you wish before gracefully dolloping a few healthy plops into a small bowl or teacup or whatever screams DinnerPartyFancyPantsPlatingIdea! Top with cooled beets.
Drizzle with good local honey (because it’s important to support local apiaries and you can say things like “this is local honey” to your very fancy guests) and a fruity olive oil (or walnut oil would be good too).
Garnish with a few sprigs of fennel frond (the dill-looking green stuff that grown from the top of the bulb). Get super into it and place each frond with a kitchen tweezer, because what is fancier than garnishing food using a kitchen tweezer?!?! Finish with a few flakes of fancy salt because you are doing the most.
This little bowl bursts with flavors that will have your guests Hmm-ing and tasting again as the sensations move between sweet and savory. It’s a great snack for your guests and your ego too.
If you don’t like people and really have no interest in having anyone over, you can make this for yourself. It tastes just as good without all the napkin rings and preparty house cleaning. You don’t even have to put on pants to be fancy.
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