Written by Chef Alan Zox, email@example.com Thursday, 23 January 2014 13:24
My brother Larry loved to eat salad and knew it was one of my favorites, as well. So when I visited him for dinner several years ago, he went out of his way to prepare a special salad he knew I would enjoy—especially since I had not eaten greens for many months. This was because the source of water in the Colombian village I was visiting in Latin America was polluted. Short of dropping iodine tablets into the water to purify it—which also affected the flavor—you had to abstain from eating the greens altogether. Clean, pure water was just not easily accessible.
This particular Sunday afternoon in the spring was a reunion of sorts—a time to renew the past and enjoy the present. Our wives and children were in the park enjoying the sunshine and Larry was grilling steaks and burgers, and boiling water for homemade pasta, with his special tomato sauce. His salad was a combination of spring delights that he created for just such occasions featuring watercress, roasted beets, avocado and fresh pear slices with a pear vinaigrette.He placed the 10-serving salad bowl on the table and invited me to help myself while he finished his sauce. Twenty minutes later, I had eaten the ENTIRE salad—leaving only a few greens for others. Laughingly he brought this to my attention which led to my sheepish apology. Fortunately he was able to replenish the salad bowl but was amazed at my appetite. It became a story worth repeating and a memorable salad to recreate. Perhaps it was understandable, given my being deprived of greens for so many months, but surprising nonetheless.
Roasted Beets, Pears, Avocados And Watercress Salad—Serves 4-6
1 lb. watercress
2 avocados each sliced into eighths
5 roasted beets, medium size, sliced into quarters
2 cans sliced pears with juice
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon honey
¼ cup pear juice
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar or (1 tablespoon red wine vinegar with
1 teaspoon sherry wine vinegar)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Heat oven in advance to 425F. Wash beets and watercress thoroughly and dry all the watercress in a spinning colander. Use a paper towel to dry the beets. Cut ¼ inch slice off both ends of the beets. Cut the beets into quarters—end to end. Place the beets in a sufficient amount of aluminum foil and close by pinching the aluminum together. Carefully place the beets on a sheet tray and roast for 30 minutes in the oven that has reached a temperature of 425F. Remove from oven and open aluminum cover, exposing beets to heat for an additional 20 minutes and remove. Test to be sure you can easily insert the tip of a sharp knife into 1–2 beet slices. Chill in refrigerator for 20 minutes. This procedure can be done a day in advance.
Cut the avocados into quarters; squeeze juice of ½ lemon over all avocado slices. Then open the 2 cans of pears; drain and reserve the juice in a separate bowl. Do the same for the slices of pear.
Make the vinaigrette by combining the olive oil, honey, mustard and the pear juice, with the rice wine vinegar (or with the red wine vinegar and the sherry wine vinegar). Mix the ingredients with a whisk or fork until the vinaigrette is smooth and emulsified.
Compose and dress each salad separately, placing the watercress in each individual’s salad bowl along with equal slices of roasted beets, avocados and pear slices. Carefully dress each salad with 2 tablespoons of pear vinaigrette.
Combining the texture and taste of chilled roasted beets, avocado and pear with watercress and a sweet yet tart dressing will delight your family and friends and will likely surprise their palates too. This salad goes well with meat or pasta as it did for Larry. In fact, I am told some of our family, myself included, wanted more salad than any protein.