Thursday, April 22, 2010

Sometimes You Just Need a Salad.

Sometimes, after all the noodles and rice and pork and chicken, you just need some green. Lonely Planet told us it would be in our best interest to stay away from salad greens and other potentially washed-with-tap-water uncooked food while on vacation in Cambodia and Thailand. Not wanting to risk the effects of a stomach bug while 30 meters underwater, I figure it was best to play it safe and not risk it.

By the time I got home, all I was craving was an obnoxiously huge salad. Like the kind they serve at restaurants as your entree, and when they set it in front of you, you think there is no way you are ever going to eat it all, but you do anyway, cause you know, it's mostly lettuce right? Right? What was I talking about again?

Oh yeah, so I made this salad, and it hit the spot. Roasted red beets, creamy refreshing avocado, tangy goat cheese, pistachios, fresh spring greens, all topped with an orange-mustard vinaigrette. It was almost my perfect salad. I had an apple out and ready to cut, but my salad was growing to gargantuan proportions so I left it out. I wish I had cut it into matchsticks and put it in to add another more crunchy/crisp element since the salad was pretty creamy all around.

The funny thing is, is that if you knew the teenager version of me, you would be astounded at me now proclaiming my craving for a salad. I wouldn't touch lettuce up until sophomore/junior year of college (and that wasn't that long ago folks). Ah, how times and tastes have changed. I sure am glad they did, because this, ladies and gentlemen, is pretty close to salad perfection in my opinion.

Roasted Beet and Avocado Salad with Orange-Balsamic Vinaigrette
makes one gigantic salad

Two things about this salad. First, the measurements are not important here. Pile the toppings on until your stomach says enough, and mix the dressing according to how your taste buds like it. Second, most people roast beets whole, then peel and chop. This is all fine a dandy, but I prefer mine in nice crispy and caramelized bite sized pieces. I accomplish this by taking the outer skin off by cutting the beet in half, then slicing the skin off with a sharp knife. Think about peeling sweet potatoes, or ginger, or a pineapple for that matter, same principle, just on a smaller scale. Cube, toss with olive oil, salt and pepper, then cook for maximum roasted surface area.
2-3 red beets, peeled and diced into 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 avocado diced into 1/2 inch pieces
1/4 cup shelled pistachios
1 oz crumbled goat cheese
1/2 apple, cored and cut into thin matchsticks
big handful of mixed greens, or whatever kind of lettuce you like
1/4 cup olive oil + extra for tossing with beets
juice of one orange
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Toss diced beets with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and spread in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast for 15-25 minutes, until caramelized and cooked through.

Meanwhile, in a seal-able container (such as a Ziploc or mason jar), mix olive oil, vinegar, orange juice, mustard, and salt and pepper. Close tightly and shake the crap out of it until the dressing has emulsified.

Plate your greens, and top with, in no particular order, the beets, avocado, apple, goat cheese, pistachios, and drizzle on your dressing. Go ahead and eat the whole damn thing, cause its mostly lettuce right? Just humor me and say "right Bria". Thank you.

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