This Citrus, Beet and Miner’s Lettuce Salad Recipe will nourish you during the transitions between seasons, and a wonderful way to highlight the foraged wild green. Sometimes known as winter purslane or claytonia, this rich succulent green makes the perfect base for a fresh salad.
(This post was contributed by Melissa Keyser.)
In my mild climate of California, these seasonal transition times are often easy to miss, as our seasons ebb and flow in harmony with the rains, not so much the temperatures. It can be hard to determine when winter ends and spring beginnings. In these times, I look at what foods are available.
Citrus is a winter fruit, and the bounty of all different varieties signals peak winter. I know that winter is ending when the squirrels start to eat the oranges off the neighbor’s tree, whose branches bough over my fence. They seem to ignore them until the very end, perhaps only interested when they’ve reached a certain ripeness that the cusp of spring brings. Or, because they are assholes and know that’s when I want them the most, too.
Beets grow year round in my area, one of the vegetables that cross all times. In more traditional 4-season areas, you often can find overwintered beets, the roots stored in cold houses or root cellars. But in the late winter and early spring, the tender beets come to market, ones with the tender leaves still attached, and juicy, firm roots.
And then, of course, the miner’s lettuce (Claytonia perfoliata). It starts to pop up in late fall, as soon as our rains come, carpeting the sides of woodland trails. First emerging from damp soil with leaves the shapes of spades, they start to turn into a circular shape as the daylight hours lengthen.
While Miner’s Lettuce is edible at any stage in its life, I pass it up during Winter, instead, waiting to forage miner’s lettuce in the spring. I might enjoy a leaf or two while hiking, but my own garden greens keep me satisfied during the winter month. The tender and succulent leaves don’t interest me when I’m craving robust greens like kale or the comforts of warm roasted squash.
You can also grow miner’s lettuce, and it’s one of the earliest spring greens, even in colder climates.
Either way, in spring, I’m ready. I’m ready for fresher and lighter fare. Bright flavors and crisp textures often lacking in a seasonal diet of darker days. And Miner’s Lettuce fills that need perfectly. Paired with the bright flavors of citrus, the earthy depths of beets, and some scattering of crunch from cashews, this Citrus, Beet, and Miner’s Lettuce Salad nourishes me.
Like my kale and citrus salad, this salad is a meal for those times, the transition time between seasons, the other time when Winter is exhaling her last breath and Spring emerges on the inhale.
Notes about this Beet, Citrus, and Miner’s Lettuce Salad
Like most of my meals, I don’t measure. As a result, this salad doesn’t list exact quantities and can easily be modified to meet your ingredients and your likes! Don’t have grapefruit? Use more orange. Really like tangerines? Swap out for the kumquats. Let the bounty of your own garden and market guide your dishes. This is also a great way to use up leftover roasted beets!
I also did not dress this salad, as the juice from the citrus blended with the oil from the roasted beets, making its own dressing. If your salad needs a little something extra, try just drizzling with olive oil and white wine vinegar, or, a citrus dressing.
Slicing citrus that has already been peeled is hard, and peeling slices already cut is a pain. Feel free to segment the larger citrus if you prefer, or, how I do it is to cut into slices, then use a knife to pare off the peel and pith. However, leave the peels on the kumquats, those are the best part!
For something a bit sweeter, you could also try topping it with candied kumquats for a little extra pop.
- Olive oil
- Red grapefruit, thinly sliced into wheels and peeled
- Orange, thinly sliced into wheels and peeled
- Handful kumquats, thinly sliced
- Handful cashews, toasted and broken into bits
- Several handfuls Miner’s Lettuce
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Wash and trim beets, and set on a sheet of aluminum foil or in a baking pan. Rub with a few glugs of olive oil, and seal in foil or cover baking pan. Roast beets until soft when pierced with a fork, usually 35-50 minutes, depending on size.
- Let beets cool and then peel, then slice into wheels.
- Layer beets, citrus, and miners lettuce in a bowl or on a platter.
- Sprinkle with cashews.
Miner’s lettuce doesn’t keep well when mixed with other ingredients, so if you are making a large salad for several servings, store the citrus and beets separately from the miners lettuce. The beets will likely turn everything pink, but the flavors are delicious when melded together. Let come to room temperature again before serving. Miner’s lettuce also doesn’t store well, and should be used within a day or two of harvesting.