Mixed Greens with Grapefruit, Beets, Roasted Pistachios and Sumac

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Brilliantly vibrant with colour and taste, this salad is as refreshing and nourishing as it is beautiful! You may have to purchase sumac from a Middle eastern grocer but it can often be found with other ethnic spices in the aisles of a big box grocer such as Superstore.

You can’t go wrong with this salad. Tossed in a delicate, oil-free vinaigrette (recipe below), and sprinkled with a nut-based Parmesan,  it is loaded with wonderful contrasting textures and bold flavours! It is sophisticated enough to impress the most demanding foodie you know and simple enough to be enjoyed on busy week nights with family. 

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This recipe was inspired by a salad I tried at Planta in Toronto a few weeks ago when I was there visiting family and friends. I knew I wanted to replicate something similar when I got home and this recipe is the result of my efforts, though there are a few differences. The salad at Planta was adorned with a few dried cranberries and a smidgeon of nut-based krema. My version omits the cranberries and is finished off with a dusting of almond-based grated Parmesan. Both salads are delicious! 

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INGREDIENTS

  • Selection of mixed greens, enough for 4 servings
  • 2 small-medium sized cooked beets, one red one golden*
  • 1 pink grapefruit
  • ¼ cup shelled pistachios, oven roasted
  • 1 tsp. sumac

DIRECTIONS

Wash and spin-dry the salad greens and place in a large bowl.

Remove the peel, seeds and pith from the grapefruit and slice the flesh into bite-size pieces.

Slice the beets, separately into bite-sized pieces.

Add the golden beet, grapefruit and 1/2 the sumac to the bowl with the salad leaves and toss with a little dressing.

In a separate bowl toss the red beet with a little of the dressing and carefully add to the salad. Toss the whole salad very gently – just once or twice, to distribute the red beets. Add the roasted pistachios and serve the salad at once, sprinkled with the grated AlmondParmesan. Sprinkle the remaining sumac on top of the salad and the perimeter of the plate for effect. 

Oil-free Vinaigrette

  • ½ cup water
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/8 cup (2 tbsp.) golden (sultana) raisins
  • 1 large clove of garlic, peeled
  • 2 teaspoons ground flax or Chia seeds*
  • 1 teaspoon chickpea miso paste* (or salt to taste)
  • Fresh basil, 2 or 3 large leaves

Combine all ingredients in a blender and process on high speed until emulsified. I used a VitaMix to get the dressing completely smooth. Pour dressing into a bottle and refrigerate. Dressing will thicken a little more on standing. Shake well before using. (You won’t need all of the dressing for this amount of salad so save the rest for other salads). 

*I buy Chickpea miso paste, whole flax seeds and chia seeds at my local health food store. Using a coffee grinder, I pulse flax seeds and chia seeds individually until they reach a powdery texture. Any extra ground seeds can be stored separately, in the refrigerator in tightly sealed containers if they can be used within a few weeks. (Alternatively, they can be frozen, as can the whole seeds,  until ready to use – this helps to prolong their freshness). 

This dressing can be made with different vinegars, such as balsamic, red or white wine, and it can be sweetened with currants or dark raisins instead of sultanas. Be aware though, that using darker coloured vinegars and raisins will result in a darker dressing. You can also increase or decrease the amount of raisins for a sweeter or less sweet vinaigrette and you can use different herbs, such as fresh dill, oregano or cilantro instead of basil. There are many ways you can play around with this basic recipe to make it your own. 

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Almond Parmesan

  • ¼ cup almond meal
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. lemon juice

Place everything in a small nut grinder and pulse a few times until the mixture is well blended. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Notes

*To cook the beets, preheat the oven to 350°F. Wash the beets and place them in an oven-proof dish, and bake them, covered for about an hour, or until cooked. Remove the dish from the oven and allow the beets to cool for a 5-10 minutes, still covered. When cool enough to handle, remove the skins from the beets, top and tail, and store separately. I wear nitrile gloves for this. The skins should slip off easily as long as you do this while they are still fairly hot. If they cool for too long, the skins will be more difficult to remove. The beets need to be stored separately or or the colour from the red beet will bleed into the golden beet.

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