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Recipes

Asha's Beet & Avocado Salad with Roasty-Toasty Dressing

Recipe By: Asha Loupy

Serves: 4

Asha's Beet & Avocado Salad with Roasty-Toasty Dressing
Photo by:  

Melati Citrawireja

If I could dream up the perfect winter salad, this would come very close. Lots of beets — slowly roasted to concentrate their natural, earthy sweetness — wedges of creamy avocado, tender lettuces and a handful of bitter chicories, all adorned with the roastiest, toastiest dressing, starring Nandini Coriander, Nagauri Cumin, fennel seeds, and Wild Ajwain. The dressing also gets a triple dose of lemon from lemon zest, juice, and preserved lemon. If you don't have preserved lemon, you can double the lemon zest and bump up the salt a little in the dressing.

Looking to turn this salad into a main? Nestle in jammy-yolked eggs, planks of briny feta, crispy cubes of paneer dusted with Guntur Sannam Chillies, or the protein of your choice.

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Ingredients

For the beets
  • 1¼ pounds small-to-medium red, yellow, or Chioggia beets (or, a mix of two or more!)
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
For the dressing
  • 1½ teaspoons whole Nandini Coriander
  • 1½ teaspoons whole Nagauri Cumin
  • 1 teaspoon Hariyali Fennel seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon whole Wild Ajwain
  • 1 tablespoon preserved lemon, finely chopped
  • Zest of 1 lemon (about 1 to 2 teaspoons)
  • Juice of 1 lemon (about 3 tablespoons)
  • 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • A few cracks Aranya Black Pepper
  • ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
For salad
  • 4 cups tender lettuces, like little gems or butter lettuce, torn into large, bite-sized pieces
  • 2 cups leafy chicories, like Castelfranco, radicchio, or treviso
  • 1 large avocado, peeled and cut into wedges
  • 3 tablespoons peeled pistachios, roughly chopped
  • Flaky sea salt, for garnish

Methods

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  2. If using two colors of beets, divide them between two large pieces of aluminum foil, placing the beets in the center of each piece of foil. If using one type of beet, place them all in the center of one large piece of aluminum foil. Drizzle each with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Fold two sides of the foil up, so they meet in the middle and fold down to seal. Then, fold the outside ends in to create a sealed pouch. (Sealing them in separate foil pouches will prevent the red beets from bleeding onto the other beets.)
  3. Place the beet pouch(es) on a baking sheet and roast until the beets are fully cooked through and can be easily pierced with a paring knife, about 40 to 45 minutes for smaller beets and 50 to 55 minutes for medium beets. (If you’re using large beets, this could take up to 1 hour, 15 minutes.) 
  4. Remove from the oven and allow to sit, wrapped in the foil, until cool enough to handle, about 20 to 30 minutes. Open the beets and using your fingers gently peel the beets, discarding the skin. Slice some of the beets in thick rounds and other in halves or quarters (this will create some fun, textural elements in your salad).
  5. To prepare the dressing, heat a small skillet or tadka spoon over medium heat. Add the coriander, cumin, fennel seeds, and ajwain, and toast until golden and smell deeply nutty, about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Transfer the toasted spices to a spice grinder or mortar and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Grind or pound the spices into a medium coarse powder and transfer to a small mason jar (or, empty Diaspora Co, jar!).
  6. Add the remaining dressing ingredients to the mason jar, put the lid on the jar, and shake to emulsify.
  7. To assemble the salad, combine the lettuces and chicories in a large bowl, add half of the dressing and toss to coat. Taste and season with more salt and pepper, if necessary. Transfer the salad to a large serving platter, arrange the beets and avocado on top of the dressed greens. Spoon the remaining dressing over the top of the salad, making sure to drizzle generously over the beets and avocado. Finish with the chopped pistachios and a light sprinkle of flaky sea salt.
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