Friday, April 20, 2012

Composed Salad of Beets... on Mache Greens with Boiled Egg, Avocado, Radish and a Lime-Honey-Balsamic Vinaigrette

Pretty food.

While it's certainly not enough to look good on a plate, pretty food is pretty captivating (for me, anyway). Apart from aroma, it's right up there in what is most enticing about a dish.

However, as the saying goes, pretty is as pretty does. So... if pretty doesn't deliver in the taste department, then it's pretty much all for not.

We enjoyed a rendition of this beet salad while visiting Seattle last month. Suddenly enamored with the empire of Ethan Stowell, we dined at Staple & Fancy (having thoroughly enjoyed How To Cook A Wolf on a prior visit). In the midst of contemplating our order, we caught a glimpse of a beautiful salad being delivered to the table adjacent to ours. While I've definitely been accused of being a bit of a neck bender when dining out, assessing platings as they parade from the kitchen, I do make every effort to be discrete. The fact that this beauty was set just inches from our table made it ever easier to see. And that one little look sealed the deal.

While I'm somewhat of a purest when it comes to plating... believing that stark white plates are the perfect canvas to showcase most anything you might serve... this salad would have looked beautiful brought in on a cutting board. Perhaps it was the lighting, surely it was the company, but I'm thinking I heard harps lightly playing in the background as this dish was set down. Just maybe.

Vibrant green blooms were sprinkled atop a beautiful, yet simple, white platter... pretty enough. Then, nestled in amongst the blooms were slices of ripe avocado, sunny little wedges of boiled egg, and stunning ruby pops of radish.

And then... the star attraction... beets!

Beautiful crimson wedges of roasted beets tucked in here and there... like a perfect little game of hide and seek, with every discovery offering a tasty bite.

Though brilliantly colored and captivating, the entire salad absolutely popped with a perfect little citrus-infused dressing. My rendition is a lime-honey-balsamic vinaigrette that I lightly drizzled on the greens before tucking in each little gem of beet, avocado, radish, and egg.

Pretty... yummy... food.

Composed Salad of Beets... on Mache Greens with Boiled Egg, Avocado, Radish and a Lime-Honey-Balsamic Vinaigrette
a hearty salad for 2, a nice starter for 4
inspired by the Composed Salad of Beets at Staple & Fancy, Seattle, WA

The salad that served as the inspiration for this plating used watercress instead of mache greens. Both greens are delicious, I just happen to enjoy the nutty, sweet flavor of mache... and their lovely bloom-like structure. Also, I hard-boiled my eggs whereas S&F's version had soft-boiled eggs. Though the hard-boiled eggs were good, I think soft-boiled eggs might offer a better balance of texture and flavor. As for the beets, I roasted mine. S&F's may or may not have been roasted... delicious, nonetheless.

3 to 5 ounces fresh mache greens, as preferred (using as a light bed to accompany toppings, or as a hearty lettuce/greens component)
3 small beets, roasted, peeled, cooled and cut into wedges
2 to 3 eggs, soft-boiled, cooled and cut into wedges
6 radishes, thinly sliced
1 avocado, cut into wedges
2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lime juice
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon honey
pinch kosher salt and ground black pepper

to roast beets: trim ends of each beet; thoroughly rinse and dry. Wrap each beet in foil and place on baking sheet in 350 degree oven to roast for 1 hour. Pierce with fork to check doneness. Fork should slide easily in and out. Carefully unwrap beets over boil to catch drippings. Peel each beet individually by placing on paper towel and gently rubbing clean. Allow to cool, then cut into wedges.

to boil eggs: for hard boil, set eggs in water (to cover) and begin 5 minute timing once boil starts. At 5 minute time, remove from heat, cover and allow to stand for another 5 minutes. Drain and cool with cold water. Remove shells and cut into wedges. For soft-boil, reduce "boil and set" time to approximately 3 minutes each.

for dressing: combine lime juice, balsamic, olive oil and honey. Whisk lightly to combine; season with a pinch of salt and pepper.

Arrange mache greens on platter. Lightly drizzle with vinaigrette. Nestle bits of beet, avocado, radish and egg in greens. Serve immediately.

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