A Salad of A Different Color

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

Method:

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

Method:

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.

7 Comments

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  1. The vinagrette recipe looks lovely, and the picture of your salad certainly is more appealling than the same old iceberg lettuce base. Well done on mixing things up a bit!

    Comment by risingsunofnihon — July 29, 2006 #

  2. Wow, such a pretty salad….too bad I make the same face at beets as Morgana. Green is my favorite color too. Especially Restoration Hardware’s celadon. I meant to tell you, love the name of the bun in the oven….good name Kat…even spelled with a “K”

    Comment by Cat — July 30, 2006 #

  3. I can’t wait to try this! I love red beets (as long as they’re not pickled)and the combo with the blueberries, goat cheese & almonds sounds yummy. It is an easy way to add an extra serving of fruit to the day. :)

    Comment by Joyce Ann — July 31, 2006 #

  4. You know–I grew up eating two kinds of lettuce, risingsun. Iceburg, and Grandma’s homegrown leaf lettuce.

    Leaf lettuce was so good.

    I seldom eat iceburg anymore, and I cannot remember the last time I bought any of it. I think it has to be over fifteen years ago! Now, I only eat it when I order a salad out and it unfortunately turns out to be in the bowl! All crunch, no taste and no nutritional value!

    Thank you, Cat! Glad you approve of the name even if we spell it wrong! ;-)

    You could make the vinagrette and use that on something other than beets….

    Joyce Anne–the beets really taste nice with the blueberry vinagrette–not sour like pickled beets, but not too sweet. Just right. The goat cheese is a good combination with them, too, even if Morganna disapproved!

    Comment by Barbara — August 1, 2006 #

  5. colorful salad and that makes it apt for the summer-cool edition. As you are using beets you could have added a bit of contrast with red cabbage, which is usually purple in color and could not have sparkled out of the bowl like red lettuce.

    As far as doubling blueberries in the salad is concerned it is a flavorful balance of fruit and fruit in rice wine vinegar.

    Comment by Esther — August 2, 2006 #

  6. jieifh

    Comment by ksjkdh\ — February 15, 2011 #

  7. hmmmmmmmmmmmmm tastyyyyyyyyyyyyyy

    Comment by ksjkdh\ — February 15, 2011 #

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