Any one of my friends will tell you that I’m pretty enamored with the whole Momofuku collective of restaurants and the Dave Chang/Christina Tosi-worship/obsession thing. I have the cookbooks, subscribe to Lucky Peach and dream of future trips to New York for some ramen, birthday cake truffles and a cup of cereal milk soft serve often. Like crazy often. The whole thing is just too cool without trying to be too cool. You know? There are the wildly popular (and super pork-y) items that everyone talks about (for good reason), but last time we were in town, there was a beet salad that seriously got me so, so excited about root vegetables. Believe that! Total sleeper hit.
There was a heaped schmear of creme fraiche on the bottom of the plate, lovely cooked beets all diced on top, capers, rough chopped parsley and fresh horseradish. It was really simple, gorgeous to look at and delicious in an easy way. I say easy because you could just scoop it into your mouth and enjoy all of the flavours and textures making sense together. It was balanced and flavourful without too much effort. These ingredients were pretty much made for each other and I can’t believe it took this long for them to get together on a plate in front of me.
A little snag: I can’t eat creme fraiche every day. It’s expensive and my stomach would hate me, so I came up with this version that I can eat all day, every day with avocado and sweet little yukon gold potatoes. Beets tend to have a love affair with anything that’s creamy, tangy or rich so this all works out pretty nicely. The horseradish and shallot vinaigrette punctuates everything with a strong, vinegary bite. It’s just a hearty, composed winter salad. I’m not craving lettuce much these days, but boiled root veggies and potatoes with brine-y stuff and chives on top? Yes please. And lots.
beet, potato and avocado salad with horseradish and shallot vinaigrette
notes: dice the shallot as small as you can so that the vinaigrette gets all in there and softens the pieces up.
1 small shallot, finely diced/minced up
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
salt and pepper
2 tsp prepared horseradish
1 tsp dijon mustard
1/3 cup grape seed or other neutral flavour oil
1/2 lb mini yukon gold potatoes, scrubbed
2 medium beet roots, scrubbed
1 medium avocado, just ripe, not too soft and smushy-messy
10 blades of chives, finely sliced
juice of half a lemon
2-3 tbsp capers
salt and pepper
Make the vinaigrette: Combine the minced shallot and vinegar in a small bowl. Add salt and pepper and whisk well. Add the horseradish and mustard and whisk to combine again. Drizzle the oil into the horseradish/vinegar/shallot mixture slowly as you whisk it vigorously until thoroughly combined. Alternatively, you can throw the whole works except the shallots into the blender and put it on high for a few seconds and add the shallots to the mix after. Set aside.
Place the potatoes in a medium saucepan and cover with cold water by about an inch or two. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook until potatoes yield to a paring knife easily, but not so easily that they mush. About 12 minutes. Remove the potatoes with a slotted spoon and set aside. Place the beet roots in the boiling water and cook until you achieve the same knife-yielding tenderness of the potatoes. This should take longer, about 20 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and peel as soon as you are able, without burning your fingers of course. Cut potatoes and beets into small wedges and set aside in separate bowls.
Peel and pit the avocado. Slice it into 1/4 inch thick pieces and lay onto your serving plate. Squeeze the lemon over top of the avocado slices and season with salt and pepper. Drizzle a bit of the dressing here too. Arrange the beets on top of the avocado. Drizzle some of the dressing on top. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and some of the chives. Arrange the potatoes on top of the beets and drizzle with more dressing, salt, pepper and the remaining chives. Scatter the capers on top. Serve.
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