It’s gorgeous isn’t it? Sorry, I usually am not so disgustingly transparent with my bragging rights, but this salad deserves to be on the cover of any magazine. And to think, this is just the second string version of my original salad I made for my book club last Friday night. That one was the real stunner because the golden and purple beets both were in abundance on the original version.
As the doorbell rang on the night of my book club, I sprinkled the finale of toasted almonds across the top and wanted to desperately run for my camera since I am a crazy food blogger. The ladies filed in, all bringing their own fresh and delicious contribution to our spread, and gathered around my kitchen island. It took a lot of self-restraint, but since my five book club cohorts were already mingling and eyeing the food, I just didn’t have the heart to say, “Freeze, step away from the salad, and let me take—oh, just a million shots of this cover girl of a salad.”
When I went to bed that night, all I could think of was, “I should have gotten at least a couple shots,” and frankly, I am embarrassed to admit this, but yet here I am being totally honest…it kept me up for an hour lamenting the lost salad shot. Yes, I’m nuts, but I think we have established that in let’s say the last six or so blogs (I am only on number 7 8 now and I have admitted to being crazy yet AGAIN!). I think if you do a WordPress or Google search under crazy, my blog pops up as number one!
Oh, back to the salad. Besides its obvious good looks you want to know if it is a salad of substance–am I right? After all when us regular women look at those supermodel types on the cover of Vogue or Elle, we think, “Yeah they may look perfect, but what are they really made of? ”
Well let me tell you this salad is no charlatan, it is good from the inside out with organic greens, steamed sweet golden and red beets, Medjool dates, toasted almonds, ripened but firm avocados and homemade, finger-licking good delectable champagne vinaigrette.
I served it on a big white platter to show off the natural splendor of all the vibrant jewel tones that adorned the greens and placed a big basket of homemade zucchini bread aside it. I also had made couscous stuffed zucchini to complete our Mediterranean fare. There are a few before pics of the stuffed zucchini in the “how-to” below, but no after photos, and they were pretty hot little numbers themselves. The bread was pretty too, but I didn’t get one photo of that either. Alas. Sigh…I guess the recipes will just have to do for now.
Cover Girl Beet Salad
Serves 6 as a large side salad or 4 main course servings
1 head of red leaf lettuce, washed, spun dry and chopped (I prefer hand torn)
1 head of romaine lettuce, washed, spun dry and chopped
2 steamed coarsely diced red beets
2 steamed coarsely diced golden beets
2 just barely ripened avocados, coarsely chopped
1 c. of chopped Medjool dates (other date variety is a-ok)
3/4 c. chopped toasted almonds
Optional: Grilled chopped chicken breast, quantity of 4-6, skinless boneless breast halves
Beet note: Salads are pretty self explanatory, but the one questionable element for some of you is the steaming the beet process. I highly recommend doing this ahead of time. Beets are messy and staining so proceed with caution. Simply chop off the ends and stems of the beats, peel with a vegetable peeler and then dice into nice 1/4-1/2 inch cubes. You can steam them on the stove top if you have a steamer, but since I don’t I steam them in my microwave(I know that’s weird…I own pie weights but no steamer. That says a lot about me, doesn’t it?). I put them in a medium sized bowl with 1 tablespoon or so of water (I don’t measure…no need), add a little salt and pepper, cover with a microwave safe plate and turn on the microwave for 2 minute increments, stir, and repeat until they are fork tender. Usually, this takes 4-5 minutes of steaming. Then I dump them in an ice water bath so the colors remain vibrant and refrigerate them for later to add to the salad. For the Golden Beets, everything is the same EXCEPT I add a 1/4 teaspoon of crushed rosemary in addition to salt and pepper BEFORE they steam. Try one after you steam it, it’s super yummy with rosemary.
Taken from http://www.epicurious.com
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
2 tablespoons dijon Mustard
1/4 cup champagne vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons honey
2 or 3 dashes hot sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Put all ingredients in a bowl and whisk rapidly to create an emulsion. This is good to do ahead as well.
1/2 of a red onion, finely chopped
1/2 of a yellow pepper, finely chopped
1 c. Israeli couscous (find it at Trader Joe’s!)
2 c. chicken or vegetable broth
salt and pepper