Summer in a bowl! Dive into a citrus salad loaded with juicy oranges, roasted beets, pickled onions, and an array of goodies. Dressed in a fresh oil-free citrus salad dressing, this salad combines sweet and savory flavors in every bite.
There's something about citrus that reminds me of summer. So, when summertime finally arrives, I love to make a citrus salad with citrus salad dressing. Nothing tastes better than a fresh salad in the summer, especially when it's hot outside. And, the weather calls for fresh summer salads. So, when I saw beautiful oranges and vibrant beets at the market, I planned an entree citrus salad recipe for tonight's dinner.
How to Select the Best Oranges
Generally, the tastiest oranges are firm, full-colored, smooth, and thin-skinned regardless of variety. However, as you would with most fruits and veggies, steer clear of oranges that are too soft, show even the smallest signs of mold, or feel bruised anywhere on the fruit.
Even though oranges typically are in season in the winter, Valencia oranges' peak season is April to June. First grown in California, the most common variety is Valencia, which is both juicy and richly hued.
Unlike oranges, beets, a root vegetable, harvest all summer through late fall, store well, and keep for months. In addition, while golden and red beets possess an earthy, bitter flavor raw, they turn candy-like when roasted. For that reason, combining oranges and beets in a salad with the right vegetables tastes delectable.
- Oranges: I love oranges in a salad. The citrus is so refreshing on a summer day.
- Yellow Beets: Yellow beets taste slightly earthy but have a nuttiness reminiscent of walnuts and a mild sweetness like the smell of apples or apricots.
- Red Beets: Red beets have a sweet flavor with a hint of floral, which becomes sweeter and carmelized when cooked.
- Pickled Onions: I make my own pickled red onions. Pickled onions are tangy, a bit sweet, and crunchy all at the same time. We love to use a combination of agave nectar and apple cider vinegar when making them and find the variety of flavors makes for a more refreshing, complex taste.
- Arugula: Fresh arugula leaves have a distinctive spicy kick that will turn up the flavors in your salads, pasta, sandwiches, and sauces. The taste can be bright, tart, peppery, and slightly bitter, depending on its maturity. You'll find that baby arugula is delicate and mild, while mature arugula is much spicier.
- Tofu Feta Cheese: I also make my own tofu feta cheese. Vegan feta tastes and looks like the real deal—salty, savory, creamy, and crumbly.
- Pistachios: Pistachios generally have a very mild flavor that can be a little sweet.
- Microgreens (garnish): Microgreens add a nice finishing touch and a ton of nutrients to any salad.
- Choose yellow or red beets instead of using two varieties.
- Tangerines or mandarin oranges are an excellent substitute for Valencia oranges. I also like blood oranges.
- Try raw red onion instead of pickling onions.
- Try your favorite greens if you don't care for arugula. Chopped kale, Roamien, or butter lettuce are great substitutes.
- Skip the tofu feta cheese, or buy vegan feta at the grocery store as an option.
- Choose your favorite nuts to sprinkle on top of the salad.
What is Arugula?
Arugula is a peppery, distinctive-tasting green that originated in the Mediterranean region. This classification includes cruciferous vegetables, such as Brussels sprouts, kale, cauliflower, and broccoli. It's also known as a salad rocket and Italian cress. Arugula is a member of the Brassica or Cruciferous family.
This delicious green is a nutrient-dense food high in fiber and phytochemicals. Arugula is low in sugar, calories, carbohydrates, and fat. It's high in several vital nutrients. These include:
- Calcium helps the blood clot normally. It's also necessary for bone health, tooth health, muscle, and nerve function.
- Potassium is a mineral and electrolyte vital for heart and nerve function. It also helps the muscles contract usually. In addition, potassium helps reduce the adverse effects of sodium, which may be beneficial for people with high blood pressure.
- Folate is a B vitamin. It helps support the production of DNA and other genetic material. It's vital for women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant. Folate deficiency in pregnant women may lead to spina bifida, a neural tube defect.
- Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that helps support the immune system. Also known as ascorbic acid, vitamin C is essential for tissue health and iron absorption from food.
- Vitamin K helps with blood coagulation. If you require a prescription blood thinner, such as warfarin (Coumadin), discuss your vitamin K intake with your doctor before changing your eating habits.
- Vitamin A is the umbrella term for a group of fat-soluble retinoids. Vitamin A is a powerful antioxidant that supports immune function, cell growth, night vision, and overall eye health. It also works to help maintain kidney, lung, and heart function.
As a result, the peppery arugula, sweet oranges, and beets, the acidic taste of the pickled onions, and the saltiness of the tofu feta cheese and pistachios form a melody in the mouth.
Citrus Dressing Ingredients
Since oranges and lemons are beautiful and vibrant this time of year, I chose to combine both. That said, fresh juice is always better than bottles of juice. So, I juice my own lemons and oranges. In a pinch, bottled juice works, but fresh juice is simply fresh, without any added sugars or preservatives.
Again, simple, clean ingredients are always the goal when making a great dressing. But, taste, texture, and flavor are just as important. I love dressing, and citrus dressing for salads is one of my favorites. It's so good I could drink it. So, let's make a simple dressing you will love for your next summer salad recipe.
- Oranges: I chose freshly squeezed oranges for the dressing to get the best flavor. For additional orange flavor, add orange zest.
- Lemon: I always choose fresh lemon juice. You can freeze fresh lemon juice in ice cube trays to use in dressings and sauces when lemons are not in season.
- Apple Cider Vinegar: apple cider vinegar has a sour, vinegary taste with bright notes of sweet cooked fruit. You can brighten up salad dressings, chutneys, or soups with a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar or use it as a pickling agent to yield a sweeter flavor profile than white vinegar or red wine vinegar.
- Water: The water thins the dressing and acts as an emulsifier.
- Whole Grain Mustard: Whole-grain mustard is usually stronger than yellow, and the vinegar flavor is much less pronounced, if not altogether absent
- Maple Syrup: I always choose pure maple syrup as a sweetener for dressings.
However, you don't need a blender or anything other than a whisk or a spoon with this dressing. The ingredients, for instance, are stirred together and refrigerated until ready for use. That's it.
While the flavors of the citrus salad stand-alone, the citrus salad dressing provides an extra pop of flavor.
- Choose fresh mandarin oranges or tangerines in place of oranges.
- If fresh juice is not available, bottled juice can be substituted.
- Choose champagne or white vinegar as a substitute for apple cider vinegar.
- Try dijon mustard instead of whole grain mustard.
- Date syrup or agave is an excellent substitute for maple syrup.
For this citrus salad recipe, I chose pistachios not only because I love them but for their unique flavor. Pistachio tastes earthy, has a smooth texture and finishes with a slightly salty and sweet flavor. On the other hand, the tofu feta cheese adds a protein component and a savory taste.
For variety, include fresh mint or basil, or add avocado for additional flavor and texture.
No, whisk the ingredients together and chill until ready to serve the salad.
The citrus salad will last up to 5 days in the refrigerator covered. However, do not dress the salad until serving.
- Roast the beets in separate foil packets, so the red and yellow beets do not bleed together to preserve their colors.
- Although I roasted the beets, the beets may also be consumed raw if preferred.
- For a nut-free option, add cooked quinoa for texture.
- Do not dress the salad until before servings, or the arugula will get soggy.
- Crumble the pistachios before serving the salad so the nuts don't get soggy.
- Add other vegetables to the salad if desired.
Try this citrus salad as an entree or side salad. It tastes like a refreshing summer day in a bowl!
Try These Summer Salads
If you love this citrus salad recipe, give us a 5-star rating and comment below. We would love to hear from you!
- 5 ounces organic arugula
- 2 large Valencia oranges peeled and sliced
- 1 cup pickled onions or raw red onions slivered thin
- 3 yellow beets roasted and sliced thin
- 3 red beets roasted and sliced thin
- ½ cup tofu vegan feta cheese
- ¼ cup pistachios chopped
Citrus Salad Dressing
- ½ cup citrus salad dressing
- Heat the oven to 400°F.
- Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 400°F.
- If the beets still have their leafy tops, cut off the tops close to the tops of the beet, leaving yourself enough to grip.
- Scrub the beets thoroughly, then wrap them loosely in aluminum foil.
- The beets don't need to be dried before wrapping.
- Small beets can be wrapped together, but it's easiest to roast large beets individually.
- Do, however, separate the two colors (yellow and red). If they are cooked together, their colors will bleed into each other.
- Place the wrapped beets on a baking sheet to catch drips if the beet juices leak.
- Roast for 50 to 60 minutes.
- Beets are done when a fork or skewer slides easily to the center of the beet. Therefore, small beets will cook more quickly than large beets.
- Remove the beets from the oven and set the beets aside until cool enough to handle.
- I recommend using gloves so your hands don't turn red with the beet juice.
- Hold one of the beets in a paper towel and use the edges of the paper to rub the skin away.
- The skin should peel away easily; if it doesn't, the beets likely need to cook for a little longer.
- Peel the remaining beets and slice them thin into bite-sized pieces.
- Juice the oranges and lemon
- Add all the ingredients into a bowl or measuring cup.
- Whisk together; cover and place in the refrigerator until chilled.
- Whisk again, and dress right before serving.
Assembling the Citrus Salad
- Place the arugula in the base of the bowl
- Arrange the orange slices
- Add the cooled, sliced, roasted beets
- Add the tofu feta cheese and chopped pistachios.
- Drizzle with citrus salad dressing and serve
- Roast beets separately to preserve their colors and prevent the colors from bleeding together.
- It isn't necessary to use oil when roasting beets.
- Allow the beets to cool completely before removing their outer skins.
- Make beets in advance and refrigerate while preparing the other salad ingredients and dressing.
- Prepare the dressing in advance to allow it to chill before servings.
- Do not add the pistachios or the dressing until you are ready to serve the salad.
- Keep dressing and salad separate until serving.
Hi! My name is Kathy, I am a retired high school English teacher & vegan enthusiast and blogger. My entire blog is fully plant-based vegan. I truly believe what we eat & how we live determines our health & the preservation of our planet! 🙂
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