Thursday, March 21, 2013

Roasted Beet Salad with Figs & Ricotta

Hooray to sticking with my health kick! It's been a few weeks now of trying to adapt my diet to a healthier lifestyle, and I think I'm starting to finally get in the groove of things and find a good balance between naughty and nice dishes. My diet really hasn't changed all that much. I haven't eliminated anything from my diet at all, just reduced the volume in which I eat those naughty foods (caffeine, cheese, white flours, etc.) and introduced a lot more fruits and veggies that I definitely wasn't getting enough of prior to the kick. These changes have progressed from being a chore that I would huff and puff about, to an inspiration, getting me excited to create dishes that I feel good about putting into my body. 
One of the best things that has inspired me to create new and exciting healthy dishes has been appreciating the beauty of a healthy dish. You simply cannot compare the colour palette to that of a healthy, well rounded dish, to a plate of "naughty" food. Just think of all the many exquisite colours that are found in nature, in fruits and vegetables that give back so much to our bodies. Greens in every shade, reds, purples, yellows, oranges, blues, the list can go on and on. Now compare that to naughty foods, where almost all of what you find is a bland degrade of whites, greys, and browns. That's not to say that there aren't some fantastic foods that do wonders for the body that fall into the boring colour category, (garlic and coconut, I'm talkin' bout you!) but as a general guide, it's colour that you should be seeking.

Todays recipe was inspired by beautiful colours and thought-out plating. I wanted to create a healthy salad that I could get excited about eating, just by looking at it. With red and golden beets as my inspiration, I built this recipe based on things in my fridge that needed to be used up (where pretty much every one of my best recipes is born). With a carton of figs on there very last day, begging to be used up before the dreaded toss in the compost, pistachios left over from making pistachio macarons last week (recipe will be posted soon!), and a half-full container of ricotta left over from a roasted butternut squash and ricotta pasta from last week as well, this recipe effortlessly built itself. Vibrant red and golden beets rest atop mixed greens lightly dressed with a honey, walnut, and balsamic dressing, scattered with nutty green pistachios, sensual red, purple, and golden figs, chia seeds (a super food!), and creamy pillows of ricotta. I can get used to a diet this beautiful.

Tip: This salad is perfect for entertaining! The beets can be roasted the day before to save you time the day of, and the striking presentation will wow your guests.

* To remove pistachio skins, cover pistachios with boiling water for 2-3 minutes. Drain and rub vigorously with a clean kitchen towel. The skins will rub right off. Do this step before roasting.

3 medium-sized beets, stemmed with greens removed (I used a mixture of both red and golden)
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp liquid honey
1 tbsp walnut oil
1 tbsp olive oil
3-4 handfuls of mixed greens
1 tbsp chia seeds (optional)
4 ripe figs, quartered
1/2 cup ricotta
1/4 cup pistachios, toasted with skins removed*
olive oil (plus more for roasting beets)
salt and fresh ground pepper, to season

  1. Preheat oven to 350ยบ. Lightly coat beets in olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Wrap individually in tin foil and roast for 1 hour to 1.25 hrs, or until tender when inserted with a fork. Unwrap from tin foil and set aside to cool. Once cooled, either remove skins with a paring knife, or by rubbing with a paper towel. Slice into 1/4-inch thick rounds.
  2. In a small bowl whisk together the balsamic vinegar and honey. While continuing to whisk slowly pour in the olive oil and walnut oil in a thin, continuous stream. Season lightly with salt and pepper.
  3. In a medium bowl toss together the mixed greens with the dressing, adding a little dressing at a time to ensure you do not over-dress. You may have some dressing remaining.
  4. Plate the dressed greens and sprinkle with chia seeds. Top with sliced beets (alternating in colours), figs, ricotta, and pistachios. Drizzle lightly with good quality olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Listening To:
LCD Soundsystem - Dance Yrself Clean

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