This salad is an amalgam of sorts -- the kind of recipe that sort of falls into place when remembering your favorite elements of numerous recipes and salads. I adore the combination of roasted beets and avocado so knew I wanted to start there. I began by roasting beets according to Amanda’s instructions to concentrate their flavor (http://www.food52.com/recipes...). I then remembered two great details from a Suzanne Goin recipe for a roasted beet salad: mixing in thinly sliced shallots with freshly roasted beets, and nestling the beets with thin slabs of ricotta salata (a most welcome departure from the ubiquitous roasted beet - goat cheese duo). My salad was starting to come together but needed a little punch to round out the flavors. I decided to add some black olives -- an ingredient I knew would pair well based on a great, simple avocado salad in the cookbook, Recipes from an Italian Summer. For the finishing touches, I drizzled in a lime-chili vinaigrette for brightness, and then scattered fresh mint, basil and marcona almonds on top, because, well, you can never go wrong with marcona almonds. After you’ve roasted your beets (a step that can be done in advance), the salad comes together easily and is adaptable. While lovely as a composed salad, the same recipe can easily be transformed into a more rustic main dish by mixing these same ingredients with farro, quinoa or another grain. —EmilyC
4 to 6
1 bunch beets (or about three golf ball-sized beets), mixed colors if possible
To roast beets: Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Cut off the tops and roots, then scrub if they’re dirty. Lay a large piece of foil on a baking sheet, leaving half the foil hanging off one end. Place the beets on top of the foil on the baking sheet, and sprinkle the beets with olive oil (just enough to coat them) and salt and pepper. Fold the foil to make a packet and crimp the edges. Bake until tender (you can check by piercing a fork through the foil) for about 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on their size. Let them cool in the foil packet. When the beets are cool enough to handle, remove them from the foil and peel off the skin with your fingers.
To make lime-chili vinaigrette: Whisk together lime juice, honey, and cayenne, then drizzle in extra virgin olive oil and continue whisking until emulsified.
Cut the roasted beets into small wedges, then toss with the thinly sliced shallots. Drizzle in enough vinaigrette to lightly dress, a few teaspoons at a time (reserving more vinaigrette for finishing the salad). Set aside.
Cut avocado in half lengthwise, remove pit, and peel. Cut into ¼-slices, then into wedges.
To plate: arrange the wedges of roasted beets on your place, then nestle in the slabs of ricotta salata, avocado slices, and olives. Scatter mint, basil and marcona almonds over the top, then drizzle the vinaigrette over the salad to taste.