Salads are most usually green.
I mean, green salads, with lettuce and other salad greens, are generally green. Hence, the name, “green salad.”
But, even though my favorite color is green, and thus it is the dominant color in both my kitchen and my office, I get tired of it. I get bored and want to change it up a bit.
Sometimes, I want something in my other favorite color: purple.
And for that, I turn to various fruits and vegetables which have been colored by those most lovely of natural food colorants: anthocyanins.
In this case, I turned to baby beets, which I roasted with some olive oil, then peeled, sliced and chilled, and blueberries, which I both pureed into a fruit-based vinagrette, and used au naturale, as a garnish.
I could have used reddish-colored lettuce in the bowl as well, but I like the fact that green and violet are complimentary colors and look ever so vibrant when paired together. And they do–just look at how the colors pop out of the bowl and zing the eyes!
They also happen to taste nice together.
For a bit of a contrast in flavor and texture, I sprinkled in some sliced almonds and some nuggets of soft chevre. That way I had a lot of textures to please the tongue: crisp lettuce, creamy cheese, buttery soft beets, popping blueberries, and crunchy almonds.
Most importantly–how did it taste?
Lovely, I thought. (Morganna disagrees. When she tasted a slice of beet, she made the patented “disgusted Snoopy noise” that those of us who grew up watching “Peanuts” holiday specials on television are quite familiar with.)
The sweet and tart blueberries perfectly complimented the earthy sweetness of the roasted beets, while the tangy goat cheese made a nice contrast to the sweet flavors. The lettuce and almonds were fairly neutral, adding mostly a crispy-crunchy element to the overall texture of the salad without adding much in the way of flavor.
I had to resist the urge to call this dish “anthocyanin salad,” however, and thus settled for a more prosiac, yet equally descriptive name. The first choice was just too nerdy, even for me.
Roasted Beet and Chevre Salad with Blueberry Vinaigrette
Ingredients for Salad:
1/2 pound baby beets, scrubbed well, trimmed of roots and tops, coated with olive oil and roasted at 425 degrees F until tender
1 head romaine lettuce, trimmed, washed, dried and torn into bite-sized pieces
1 handful fresh blueberries, rinsed and dried
1 handful sliced almonds
3 ounces chevre, crumbled into nuggets
Peel cooled beets, and cut into half longways. Cut into 1/4″ thick slices.
Arrange torn lettuce leaves into individual salad bowls or plates.
Add a mound of sliced beets to the center of lettuce leaves.
Sprinkle with blueberries, almonds and cheese.
Dress with blueberry vinagrette in drizzled spiral.
Ingredients for Blueberry Vinagrette:
1/2 pint fresh blueberries, rinsed and dried
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
Put into a mini food processor or blender and puree. Voila. It is done. The cool thing about fruit vinagrettes is that the fruit pulp acts as a natural emulsifier, keeping the oil and vinegar in a perfect suspension for much longer than is usual.
But, just to be sure, put into a clean jar with a tight-fitting lid and shake well just before serving.
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