EAT YOUR CENTREPIECE – An Edible Centrepiece for the Holidays

Table Tonight, Plate Tomorrow

A DIY centrepiece for a holiday table that can be cooked and served the next night


Edible Centrepiece. Photo by Deanna Ladret

 “Holiday entertaining is part of what makes this season so special: dinner parties, feasts with family and friends, and plenty of wine and laughter to go around. Besides quality food and drink, essential to the holiday table is a centrepiece, which pulls everything together aesthetically and reminds your guests how special the evening is.


In these days of austerity and eco-consciousness, if you don’t want to spring for a pre-made arrangement that will have to be thrown away a few days later, here’s a homemade holiday centrepiece that can be cooked and eaten the next night. This one is small enough for two place settings, but you could make 2 or 3 for a larger table.



Find a shallow vase with flat sides that’s square, round, or rectangular.  Wash several beets and then cut them in half lengthwise. Stand the segments stem-down like spades, with their flat sides facing out, around the inside of the vase. Push a mandarin orange (or small tangerine) into the middle to keep them standing straight. Fill the rest of the vase with oranges. Then, snap off a few beet stalks of varying heights, and push them into the bowl just off centre.  Tuck sprigs of mint and beet greens in amongst the beet stocks, making sure the arrangement looks appealing from all sides.


After the party, rinse everything off and refrigerate the beets and mint.  The next day, if you aren’t in the mood for borscht and mojitos, try the following salad recipe from acclaimed SoCal chef Suzanne Goin’s cookbook, Sunday Suppers At Lucques.


Beets and Tangerines with Mint and Orange-flower WaterEdible Centrepiece - 2

Suzanne Goin


3 bunches small to medium beets

6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 pounds tangerines (6 large or 8 small)

2 tablespoons finely diced shallot

1 teaspoon red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon lemon juice

A few drops of orange-flower water

12 mint leaves, sliced thinly on the diagonal

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.


Cut the greens off the beets, leaving about 1/2 inch of the stems still attached. Clean beets well; toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil and 1 teaspoon salt.


Place the beets in a roasting pan with a splash of water in the bottom. Cover tightly with foil, and roast about 40 minutes, or until tender when pierced. When the beets are done, carefully remove the foil. Let them cool, and then peel them by slipping off the skins with your fingers. Cut them into 1/2-inch wedges.


Slice the stem and bottom ends from the tangerines. Stand the tangerines on one end and, following the contour of the fruit with your knife, remove the peel and cottony white pith. Work from top to bottom, rotating the fruit as you go. Then hold each tangerine over a bowl and carefully slice between the membranes and the fruit to release the segments in between. Discard the seeds and reserve the juice.


Combine the diced shallot, vinegar, lemon juice, 1/4 cup tangerine juice (from segmenting the citrus), and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a small bowl, and let sit 5 minutes. Whisk in the remaining 1/2 cup olive oil, and a drop or two of orange-flower water (be careful; a little goes a long way). Taste for balance and seasoning.


Toss the beets in a bowl with had the vinaigrette and a sprinkling of salt and pepper. Taste for seasoning.


Arrange half the beets on a large chilled platter, and place half the tangerines among the beets. Scatter half the mint over the salad. Follow with the rest of the beets, tangerines, and mint. Sprinkle a few drops of orange-flower water over the salad.



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