Golden Beet, Citrus, and Tomato Salad

Color, flavor, texture, aromatics...this dish has it all. It is one of my absolute favorites, because of its simplicity and vibrancy. Every ingredient gets equal billing with a very simple citrus dressing designed to enhance, not overshadow. This dish is a breeze to assemble and even easier to individualize with your favorite seasonal selections for a great spring salad that simultaneously teases you with hints of summer.

Ingredients:

2 large golden beets, peeled and sliced into rounds

2 large red beets, peeled and sliced into rounds

1 blood orange, sliced, peel and pith removed

1 cara cara orange, sliced, peel and pith removed

2 large or 1 package baby heirloom tomatoes, assorted colors

1/2 avocado, sliced

Algae or olive oil, for roasting

Basil, cut into chiffonade as garnish

Dressing:

1 orange, juiced

1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar

1 teaspoon brown rice syrup or agave

1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

pinch of salt

pinch of pepper

Serves 2

Preheat oven to 465 degrees (don't know why, just my go-to). You will find that golden beets are much easier to cut into than red beets. Either way, be careful with your cuts, as both are strong root vegetables. The reason why I choose to "pre-peel" and "pre-slice" the beets for this dish is because I simply don't need to wait an hour for entire bulbs to roast for one salad. Additionally, I don't want for them to spend too much time in the oven and threaten to caramelize. Our intent is simply to roast through until fork tender; conversely, you may also steam them. This method simply just imparts a bit more flavor.

Line a baking dish with parchment and arrange your slices in a flat layer. Drizzle with a bit of algae oil, lightly season with salt and pepper, and cover. They don't need more than 20-25 minutes until they are ready, so be sure to keep a good eye on them so that they do not brown. Remove from the oven and immediately transfer to a cool plate. 

While the beets are in the oven, prepare the dressing. Using the juice of one orange, combine the rice wine vinegar, brown rice syrup, balsamic, and a hint of salt and pepper to taste. This is simply a foundation; sometimes I add more balsamic, sometimes more juice. This is all up to you. Remember, this dressing is designed to enhance the flavors of the fruits and vegetables, not be the star of the show. Set aside.

As the beets are cooling down, slice your citrus and heirloom tomatoes. I chose blood orange and cara cara for their color, but you can pick whatever is available in season, or by your personal preference (in the summer months, I even use lemons and limes). I cut the citrus into slices first and then carefully cut the peel and pith away on each slice. Labor intensive, I know, but my unforgiving grip invariably destroys the delicate fruit if I attempt it any other way. I do what works for me. The tomatoes are sliced next and I leave the avocado preparation for the very end, so it doesn't discolor sitting around. 

Now that you have all of your slices within arms reach and the beets have completely cooled, arrange your plates. I like to go from color to color in a rainbow-like fashion, but mixing them up would make for a stunning presentation, as well. Once you've plated your slices to your liking, slice your avocado and arrange on the plate. Drizzle, not drench, your hand-crafted dressing over each plate and finish with your basil chiffonade. A tiny sprinkle of salt and pepper to finish. That's it.

Voila.

This dish remains relevant well into the summer months and is equally delicious paired with watermelon, honeydew, cantaloupe or casaba. Substitute basil with mint or cilantro. It's all up to you and your seasoned senses.

Enjoy!