After the mammoth plates of food that accompany Thanksgiving feasting, salads always sound appealing to me. This little delight combines some unusual tastes and textures for a delicious and new side dish. It’s particularly fitting for the impending Christmas season, too, with its contrasting ruby reds and bright greens.
I first came up with the idea for this salad when I saw a recipe with this title while perusing library cookbooks. I have a habit of checking out two or three a week, which I flip through while eating lunch or at other times, usually when I’m half-distracted by something else. (Actually, as a mother, I think I am almost always in a state of distraction, my attention divided among at least two things at all times.) In any case, I hardly ever actually cook out of any of these books. (Does anyone else do this? Read cookbooks purely for entertainment?) In one of these books, I saw a beet avocado salad, but never read the recipe. I can’t recall where I saw it, and never knew what was in it, but the title has intrigued for a long time. Finally, last week, I decided I would have to make up my own, particularly as I have a small beet harvest in the basement that has been begging to be used.
I was also drawn to the idea because, although I love beets—their sweet, crunchy interiors and brilliant color—I have very few recipes for them. I like them pickled and roasted and baked, but don’t know very many ways to combine them with other ingredients. This recipe exceeded my expectations, to be sure. The creamy avocado goes perfectly with the sugary beet slices, and the simple dressing has the delightful flavor of slowly sauteed onions. Add to that the sweetness of balsamic vinegar and tangy goat’s cheese, and it’s a riotous mouthful.
I served it with a simple, homemade bread for lunch. I think it would also be great with a soup and crusty loaf for dinner, or alongside sandwiches.
Speed it Up: If you precook the beets, this would take just minutes to prepare. The dressing is quick, but you could always make it ahead too. If you make it far enough in advance that you need to store it in the fridge, just slip it under some warm water or take it out of the fridge 30 minutes before serving to allow the olive oil to become liquid again.
Special Diets and Allergies: Vegetarian, wheat free, nut free, vegan and dairy free if you leave out the goat’s cheese—it will still be delicious without it.
Lastly, can anyone give me any recommendations for other beet recipes? I would love some ideas!
Avocado Beet Salad
This salad is a cacophony of textures, colors and flavors, combining creamy avocado with slightly crunchy beets. The ruby red of the beet contrasting with the light green of the avocado makes it particularly appropriate for the Christmas season. This dressing is really delightful, too. The recipe calls for proportions that will make too much for the salad—save some and use it as a dip for crusty breads, drizzle it over lightly steamed broccoli, or toss it in a green salad. I like to arrange this salad in pinwheels on individual plates, as described below, but if that’s not practical, mix it all gently in a large bowl. If you go this route, I would cube the avocado instead of slicing it. I’d also probably serve it on large lettuce leaves. Either way, make sure you slice the avocados right before serving; otherwise it will turn brown and look rather unappetizing. I love the extra flavor and creaminess of the goat’s cheese, but it will be delicious without it, as well.
3 large, red beets
1 extra large or 2 medium avocados
1/4 C olive oil
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 C goat’s cheese
2 t balsamic vinegar
salt to taste
- Bring a large pot of water to bowl. Meanwhile, scrub the beets and remove the tops.
- Submerge the beets in the water and simmer on medium until soft when pierced with a knife, about 30 minutes depending on how fresh they are.
- While the beets are cooking, heat the olive oil on medium-high in a skillet. Sautee the onions for 5 minutes, or until tender. Reduce the heat to low and continue to sautee for another 5 minutes.
- Drain the beets, then immediately submerge them in cold water. Slip the skins off and cut in 1/4″ slices.
- Cut the avocado in half, and remove the pit. Using a large spoon, scoop the creamy, green flesh out of the skin. Cut in 1/4 – 1/2″ thick slices. Sprinkle generously with salt.
- On four individual plates, arrange the beets and avocados, alternating between the two, in pinwheels. Crumble 1 T goat’s cheese on top of each plate. Drizzle each serving
with 1 t of the olive oil and 1/2 t balsamic vinegar. If desired, sprinkle a few slices of the sauteed onion over each plate.