Whenever fall rolls around, I like to visit my hometown in Sonoma County, California. Not only do we boast the best wine selection in the nation but it is just beautiful in autumn. When I moved to Orange County for college and then Coronado when I got married, I was always so disappointed when my favorite season rolled around because there was absolutely no change in the weather! Now I like to return home and take in the crisp fall atmosphere.
On this night, my father asked me to prepare a salad that was fit for a meal. He took me to the local market and I waltzed around the produce section looking for inspiration, all the while keeping in mind that this had to be a pretty filling salad! I think that some people think of a salad as just some watery iceberg lettuce with carrot shavings and slices of tough purple cabbage but good salads are so much more! So, after walking up and down the organic produce section about 4 times and getting some questionable looks from my father when I said I wanted to add red beans for protein, he picked up a lovely bottle of champagne and we went home.
This salad has a plethora of ingredients perfect for a rainy weekday night. When I am preparing a seasonal salad, I really like to keep in mind what is in season. Golden beets, dark purple figs and caramelized walnuts will make you feel like you are taking a bite of fall! When I want to make a salad a meal, I try to include hearty vegetables and interesting sources of protein that will keep you full and the salad colorful. Everyone loved this meal… even the red beans were a hit!
- baby arugula
- baby portabella mushrooms
- heirloom tomato
- roasted golden beets (directions below)
- red beans
- goat cheese
- caramelized walnuts
- cracked pepper
- orange muscat champagne vinaigrette (directions below)
First, prepare the roasted beets. While they are cooling, start layering the lettuce in a large, wide bowl. Slice the tomatoes, avocados, mushrooms, and beets. Add them to the salad. Rinse the red beans and add. Crumble the goat cheese on top. Peel the skin off of the figs with a small paring knife, gently slice and add to the salad. Chop the scallions and sprinkle on top. Top off salad with some caramelized walnuts et voilà! Let each person drizzle their own dressing on so that if you have leftovers (I doubt it) you will be able to preserve them.
- 3 whole beets, scrubbed, trimmed and unpeeled
- 2 Tablespoons of olive oil
- coarse salt
- fresh cracked pepper
Preheat your oven to 450° F. Wrap the beets in foil by creating a pocket around them. Drizzle the olive oil and sprinkle the salt and pepper on top. Fold the foil around the beets so that the oil does not spill out.
Let the beets roast for about 45 minutes or until they are soft when you poke a knife through the top. Once done, let cool and then the peel should easily come off using your hands or a napkin.
Orange Muscat Champagne Vinaigrette
- 2 teaspoons of Dijon mustard
- 1/4 Cup of orange muscat champagne vinegar
- 3/4 Cup of extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt
- freshly ground black pepper
Stir together mustard and vinegar. Slowly pour the olive oil in while constantly whisking. Add the salt and pepper to taste.