Stacked Beet, Avocado, and Mixed Microgreens Salad

This is a fancy appetizer I created for a party, and it is so good it keeps showing up. Although I like the stacked presentation a lot, this salad works equally well when tossed in a bowl and then plated.

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup cooked beets, cut into 1/4 inch cubes (about 2 medium beets)
1 cup avocado, cut into 1/4 inch cubes
1 cup mixed microgreens (as from New Natives), or fine leaves of bitter greens such as arugula and frisee
2 tablespoon finely diced candied ginger
2 tablespoon coarsely chopped pistachios, toasted pumpkin seeds, or toasted hazelnuts (depending on the dressing) 
1/2 cup “slack” vinaigrette*
Drizzle of pistachio, hazelnut, or roasted pumpkinseed oil
Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Special Equipment: 3-inch ring mold, or a tuna can with the top and bottom cut out and the label stripped. A 3-inch cookie cutter works too. To make it easy and to get more height with the salad, use duct-tape to tape two cans together for a taller mold. You can also make the salad free form by tossing everything in a bowl, plating the salad and garnishing with a drizzle of nut oil on the plate.

*This is a dressing with less than the usual amount of oil. The dressing should be a little sharp and a touch runny-hence the term “slack.” The vinaigrette I like to use for this salad is made with white balsamic vinegar or sherry vinegar, and a light oil such as grapeseed or olive (not extra virgin olive oil).

METHOD:

Toss the beet in a little of the dressing in a bowl and toss to coat lightly.

Place enough beets in the bottom of the mold to come 1/3 of the way up the mold.

Place an equal amount of avocado on the beets.

Toss the sprouts or greens in a small amount of dressing in a separate bowl and toss to coat lightly but evenly, and place these on the avocado in the mold.

Scatter some diced ginger over the “salad”.

Scatter nuts over and around the plate.

Carefully remove the mold.

Drizzle the plate and salad with a little nut oil.

Toss a little salt and pepper on the salad and serve.

YIELD: 4 servings

VARIATIONS:
This dish works well with blood orange vinaigrette as well. For this, use juice from the fruit in the dressing, and you could use slices of orange for garnish. Cut away the skin of the fruit past the inside membrane, and then use a sharp paring knife to cut away the segments without getting any of the membrane on the sections. These are sometimes referred to as “filets” from an orange. You could omit the nut oils and use a pinch of cinnamon instead for a different twist.

You can also make a dressing of Meyer lemon juice and use almonds and almond oil for a lighter, more Mediterranean version.

CHEF’S NOTES:
If you have only one ring mold, use three separate bowls for each ingredient, dress them, and work quickly so the first salad does not wilt by the time the last one is completed.

If you want to make this easy, just toss the avocado and beets together in a bowl, then shred some lettuce like romaine and lightly dress it, the place some on each plate. Dress the beets and avocado and place some in the center of each plate of lettuce. Top with some sprouts if you have them and serve.

SOURCE: Chef Andrew E Cohen