If you are in the mood for a fresh, filling salad, this is it. Fruit and salad are like peanut butter and jelly. Meant for each other. Add toasted nuts and some soft cheese and you’ve got a divine creation on your hands. Have I sold you on this salad yet?
Let me share some salad wisdom (what, you didn’t know there was such a thing?) that has improved my salad construction and enjoyment tenfold.
#1. In Alice Waters book she gives a genius recommendation regarding salad preparation. Separate out your leafy ingredients and your heavier ingredients in two different bowls to dress separately. This prevents all of the toppings from ending up at the bottom of your salad and allows you to arrange the prettier ingredients over the leafy ones.
#2. Dress your salad with your hands. Pour your dressing over your leafy, ingredients and your heavier ingredients, and massage everything with your hands. This helps the dressing get evenly distributed and you can more properly coat everything. I’ve also found with this method you end up using much less dressing. And, most importantly, you never bite into a mouthful of salad with a giant gob of dressing that has you coughing out your brains (just me?). The only safety note here is watch out for cuts and vinegar, ouch!
#3. To my sensibilities, the most critical step in all salad preparation is thoroughly drying all of your ingredients. Wet lettuce leaves dilute your dressing, taste soggy, and make your whole salad look unattractive…much like a wet dog. Dry, dry, dry.
- ½ Head red leaf lettuce
- ½ Head butter or Boston lettuce
- 1 Large golden beet
- 1 Bosc or Anjou pear or some of each
- 1 Large onion
- ½ Cup toasted walnuts
- Goat cheese
- 2 Tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 1 Teaspoon maple syrup
- Pinch of salt and pepper
- ⅓ Cup olive oil
- Preheat oven to 400F convection bake.
- Remove and discard any greens from the beet.
- Scrub the beet well under running water.
- Wrap your beet in aluminum foil and place on baking sheet.
- Bake for approximately 50 minutes. Check every 20 minutes to make sure nothing is burning. Add a tablespoon of water to your "tinfoil pouch" if the beet seems to be drying out too much and turning black. The larger the beet, the longer the cook time. I had a REALLY big beet and I had to cook it for close to three hours.
- Your beet is done when the flesh yields easily to an inserted fork.
- Once cooked, let it cool slightly before peeling off the skin.
- Slice your beet into small cubes.
- Slice your onion into long slivers and sauté until caramelized.
- While the onions are cooking, wash the lettuce and tear into bite-size pieces.
- Lay lettuce out on a clean dish towel and pat dry.
- Store it in the refrigerator to prevent it from wilting.
- Slice your pear into thin slivers and set aside.
- To make the dressing: mix all of your ingredients together in a small bowl, except for the olive oil. Slowly pour your olive oil into the bowl in a steady stream as you whisk. Continue until all of the oil has been added. Whisk vigorously until your oil has been completely incorporated. Taste the dressing and make any necessary adjustments.
- Dress all of your ingredients (except goat cheese, walnuts, and onion) as outlined earlier in this post.
- Lay your dressed lettuce into each of your serving bowls. Layer your remaining ingredients as follows: beets, sliced pears, caramelized onions, walnuts, and goat cheese.