For most of my professional culinary career I worked the garde manger station at various restaurants. The garde manger station primarily focuses on cold dishes such as crudos, cold appetizers, and salads. That being said, I make a pretty good salad after all these years. Whenever my friends have a dinner party, I always ask what dish I can bring and I am asked to make the same thing every time…a salad.
I made this salad for the last dinner party I attended. The theme was “surf ‘n’ turf” so I wanted a salad that was light with a brightness of flavor but was still somewhat in season. March is a “dormant” month in New York so you pretty much have to use vegetables and fruit that can be kept in cold storage. So I used items that can be considered somewhat heavy but tried to lighten the dish by using citrus, pickled items, and a creamy and vibrant dressing.
Beet, Grapefruit, Avocado, and Pickled Onion Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing
Makes 12 servings
1 serving = 3 Points Plus
- 1 ½ # beets, trimmed and cleaned
- 10 sprigs of thyme
- 3 grapefruits, segments only
- 2 avocados, thinly sliced
- Pickled Red Onions, recipe follows
- Poppy Seed Dressing, recipe follows
- 11 oz arugula (2 of the plastic clamshell containers)
Pickled Red Onion:
- 1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- 1 tsp white peppercorns
- ½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 tbsp ginger, sliced
Poppy Seed Dressing:
- ½ cup fat-free sour cream (I prefer Breakstone’s)
- 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 3 tbsp honey
- 1 tbsp poppy seeds
- salt and pepper, as needed
Preheat your oven to 450°F. First trim the greens from the beets (these can be saved and sautéed for a quick side dish). Scrub and rinse the beets. Place 3-4 beets (depending on the size) on a large piece of aluminum foil. Spray beets with non-stick cooking spray. Season with salt and pepper and place 1-2 sprigs of thyme in the middle of the beets. Wrap the foil up around the beets creating a tight, neat little package. Place packages on baking sheet and put in the oven for 50 minutes to an hour, or until beets are tender. To check for doneness, take a package out of the oven, unwrap the foil, and using sharp pairing knife and insert it into the center of beet. If the knife slides easily through the beets then they are done. If there is resistance, keep the cooking the beets longer.
To check for doneness, take a package out of the oven, unwrap the foil, and using sharp pairing knife and insert it into the center of beet. If the knife slides easily through the beets then they are done. If there is resistance, keep the cooking the beets longer.
When beets are cooked through, take them out of the oven and allow to cool for at least 20 minutes. When beets are cool enough to handle, peel the skins by using a paper towel or kitchen towel, the skin should slide right off (this part gets messy).
Cut the beets into a small dice or small bite-sized pieces. Season with some salt and pepper and set aside.
Cut the grapefruit into supremes or segments. If you don’t feel like cutting the grapefruit into supremes you can always cut the grapefruit into crosswise slices. Set aside. (Check out this video on how to make citrus supremes.)
To make the pickled onions, heat up the vinegar, sugar, salt, bay leaf, ginger, and spices. Bring to a boil and then turn off the heat.
Pour cider vinegar mixture over the red onions and allow to marinate overnight if possible (or at least for 2 hours) in the refrigerator. If the liquid doesn’t fully cover the onions just add more water as necessary.
To make the poppy seed dressing combine sour cream, cider vinegar, white wine vinegar, honey, and poppy seeds. Season with salt and pepper as needed. If possible, make the dressing a day ahead to allow the flavors to meld.
To assemble, combine beets, avocado, grapefruit segments, pickled onions (drained), and arugula. Dress very lightly in poppy seed dressing. Drizzle a little extra dressing over the top.