They say that today, the third Monday in January, is the most depressing day of the year. But how can you be depressed when you see something like this?
(Jump to Recipe)
Have you heard of Whole30, or done it? I have not been brave enough (or masochistic enough) to do it yet, but I did get the cookbook for Christmas to get some recipe ideas. So many people I follow on Instagram are doing it this month that I have felt like I’m weird for not doing it.
But really, isn’t January hard enough already? Do we really need to add to our misery by removing all of the best foods from our diet – dairy, grains, sugar, and alcohol? Alcohol is basically how we survive winter – that and short ribs. And pasta. And cake.
Now and then, however, I do like a bright and crisp winter salad. We can’t have carb blankets for every meal from December through April, I suppose. So I was looking through the Whole30 book for something lighter, and when I came across an orange, beet, and avocado salad I knew I had to make it…not Whole30-compliant, of course. It’s pretty close though! All you’d do to make it right again is remove the goat cheese. But why would you want to do that?
I used Cara Cara oranges in this salad. I got them for the first time this year and it’s safe to say I am obsessed. They’re pink-orange, like a cross between an orange and grapefruit, seedless (yay!), and SO juicy. I love eating oranges cold out of the fridge, and these are the best I’ve had. If you haven’t tried them yet, get yourself to the store while they are in season.
Here’s how I cut them for the salad:
I find cutting the ends off of the orange before peeling makes it way easier since you have a flat surface to work with.
In addition to the oranges, we have roasted beets, which I love for their natural sweetness. Just be careful you don’t get beet juice on your shirt – it’s never coming out. I hadn’t roasted beets myself before until I tried this recipe, but it turns out they are super easy to do. Just poke all over with a fork, wrap in aluminum foil, throw them in the oven, and just over a half hour later you’re done. Peeling them afterwards is the hardest part!
All right, now let’s assemble our players. Clockwise: your greens of choice (I used a baby arugula and kale blend from Trader Joe’s), some crumbled goat cheese, the orange slices, our vinaigrette made from the juice of the orange, beets, and diced avocado. Not pictured: diced cooked chicken (woops). This is salad perfection!
I am lazy sometimes and buy pre-grilled chicken at Trader Joe’s…they make my life so much better. I haven’t found a way that I like batch cooking chicken yet, so I’m ok with having them do it for me. It’s the little things.
Put it all together, and you’re totally winning at the third Monday in January. If you have pre-roasted beets and pre-cooked chicken, this salad will literally take 5-10 minutes to throw together, which just gives you more time to drink wine and watch The Bachelor (no shame).
There is so much flavor in this salad! The orange is so juicy and bright, and when combined with the sweet/earthy beets, creamy avocado and goat cheese, and tang of vinegar, it’s just outrageously good. Please, do yourself a favor and try it. We all deserve better Januaries.
Cara Cara Orange, Beet, & Avocado Salad with Chicken & Goat Cheese
- 2 medium beets
- 2 tablespoons avocado oil (or extra virgin olive oil)
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 2 cara cara oranges
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
- 1/2 an avocado, cubed
- 1 cup cooked, cubed chicken breast
- A few handfuls leafy greens (I used an arugula/baby kale blend)
- Crumbled goat cheese, for topping
- Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F. Rinse the beets thoroughly and stab all sides with a fork. Place each on a square of aluminum foil, spread 1 tbsp of the oil between the two beets and turn them to coat evenly. Wrap the aluminum foil around each beet, pinching closed to seal.
- Roast for 35 minutes, then check for doneness by inserting a thin knife into the center of the beet. If it pierces easily, they are done; if not, roast for 10 more minutes and check again. Cool slightly, then remove the skin from the beets (I did this with a sharp knife and a fork so I wouldn't get beet juice all over my hands). Cube.
- Meanwhile, put the greens in a large bowl and add the orange slices, chicken, and avocado. Add the beets once cubed.
- For the Dressing: in a small bowl, whisk the orange juice, zest, vinegar, salt and pepper together. Slowly stream in the remaining 1 tbsp oil while whisking constantly to emulsify.
- Drizzle the dressing over the salad and toss everything together with two large spoons. Plate and add crumbled goat cheese on top if desired!