What a crazy month it’s been. Summer was beautiful, bright, at times both hectic and calm, and most of all, continuously delicious. While I love the summer, I’m welcoming fall with open arms. Something about working on the water, constantly surrounded by the freshest, in-season produce, has helped me to feel more in tune with the seasons. It feels appropriate for it to officially be autumn now. But there are still plenty of bright flavors to be had!
This salad is something I’ve been drooling over all sumer at The Market, and have been wanting to make at home for some time. This is loosely based on the recipe in the Chez Panisse Cafe Cookbook. Simple, bright, and yummy. (Recipe at end of post!)
When I’m not spending my time taking in this view and all the tastiness at The Market….
There are so many fun varieties of beets that you may be able to find in your area. I’m fortunate to live in an area where there are plenty of family farms, growing the usual but nevertheless amazing red beets, as well as the candy-cane-striped chiogga beets, and beautiful, bright golden beets. Use whatever variety you prefer, and have fun with the colors if you can find them!
Be careful to not use an overly ripe avocado. You want it to feel tender to the touch when selecting for ripeness, however, not too squishy. Otherwise, it may be bruised and brown inside, and not quite as yummy.
Blood oranges are also really fun to use if you can find them, since they have that bright orange to purple hue. Sometimes, they are a deep deep purple inside, while they can also have just spots of purple, like the ones I used. Experiment and have fun with it!
Avocado, Beet, and Citrus Salad
Adapted from the Chez Panisse Cafe Cookbook (original recipe here)
- 6 medium red or golden beets, or a combination
- Salt and pepper
- Red wine vinegar
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 1-2 cloves garlic, pounded to a paste or finely diced
- 1 tablespoon orange or grapefruit juice
- ¼ teaspoon chopped orange or grapefruit zest
- 2 firm, ripe avocados
- Herbs (chervil, parsley, basil, or chives) and/or salad greens (rocket/arugula, mesclun mix) to garnish
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Trim and wash the beets. Put them in a baking dish, add a splash of water, and cover tightly. Roast the beets in the oven for about 45 minutes, until they are cooked through. When the beets are cooked, allow them to cool uncovered. Peel and cut them into wedges. The peel should come off easily with your hands. If not, they may need a bit more time to cook.
Put them in a bowl, season generously with salt and pepper, and add one part red wine vinegar to three parts olive oil. If you are using a combination of different beet varieties, marinate them in separate bowls so the red ones don’t discolor the others. Allow the beets to marinate while completing the other steps. The beets can also be done a day ahead of time, and the flavors will deepen overnight in the fridge.
Zest the citrus you plan to use, and reserve to add to the vinaigrette. Using a small serrated knife, segment the citrus (orange, blood orange, or grapefruit). Use the knife to carefully peel the skin and all of the pith off, and then gently slice in between each segment to separate the fruit to bare segments. Set aside the segments. When complete, squeeze the leftover bits to get the last of the juice and reserve for the vinaigrette.
For the sake of economics, you could use the red wine vinegar & olive oil from the beets as the vinaigrette, or save it for another purpose. You could pound a clove or two of garlic with salt in a mortar and pestle, and add in some of the juice and zest from the orange with the marinating vinegar and oil.
Cut the avocados in half lengthwise and remove the pits. Leaving the skin intact, cut the avocados lengthwise into ¼-inch slices. Scoop out the slices with a large spoon and arrange them on a platter or individual dishes. Season with salt and pepper. Arrange the beets over the avocado slices, place the citrus segments around the beets, and drizzle with the vinaigrette. Garnish with herbs of your choice, such as chervil, parsley, basil, chives, or salad greens. Rocket/arugula is really yummy here.
Although a lot of text here – it is a rather simple salad to make, and is a breeze when you have the beets roasted and peeled ahead of time. And who can resist those colors?!