It’s been a long summer, and I have never been so excited to welcome the cozy shift to fall. The leaves on my neighbor’s aspen, which shimmer outside my bedroom window with the slightest hint of wind, have just this week shown speckles of yellow and brown. Cool days are around the corner. But until then, summer salads rule.
One of the biggest lessons I have learned this past year is the importance of taking care of ourselves — for ourselves and also for the strength to take care of others. It has long been believed (and studied) that food brings about a variety of physiological and emotional reactions above and beyond simply keeping us fueled. I’m not an expert in this, but I certainly love noticing how different foods make me feel. I like to think of this as a spa salad. When I eat this combination of fruit, root vegetables, greens and spice, I feel taken care of, nourished, refreshed, grounded and satisfied. For savory breakfast lovers out there, this is also a delicious breakfast or brunch salad.
You can use any color of beet and add or swap out other fruits and vegetables. This salad feels like a full meal on its own but can be bulked up with chicken, fish, rice or quinoa. If you want to make this even easier, roast the beets ahead of time and keep in the fridge for 3-5 days.
Golden Beet and Watermelon Salad
Makes: 4-6 servings; total time: around one hour
For the beets:
4 golden beets, greens reserved
Drizzle of olive oil
For the vinaigrette:
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 good sized lemon, juiced
Drizzle of honey
Pinch of crushed coriander seed
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper
For the salad:
4 cups dark greens (spinach, arugula, kale or a combo)
Reserved beet greens, sliced (optional)
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
1-2 ripe avocados, cut into squares
2 cups diced watermelon, any seeds removed
1 small cucumber, diced
4 scallions, sliced
1/2 cup fresh mint, sliced
1/2 cup fresh basil, sliced
½ cup crumbled feta cheese (optional)
Preparation: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a baking dish, drizzle a bit of olive oil over the beets, poke a few holes in each with a sharp knife, sprinkle some salt, pour a quarter-inch of water into the bottom of the dish, cover tightly with foil and cook for about an hour or until beets are tender when pierced with a knife.
While beets are cooking, make the vinaigrette: In a large salad bowl, whisk together the extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, honey, coriander, red pepper flakes, salt and black pepper. When beets are cooked and cool enough to handle, peel with a clean kitchen or paper towel, dice them and place them directly into the vinaigrette. The warm beets will soak in the flavor from the vinaigrette at this stage.
Now add the greens, onion, avocado, watermelon, cucumber, scallions, mint, basil and feta. Gently toss, taste to see if you need to adjust anything like adding more salt, red pepper flakes or lemon. Spoon into bowls and serve.