Two salads, one dressing

Salad with roasted beets, orange, cilantro, lettuce, and dandelion greens

The thermometer on my porch tells me that spring in Texas is over. The highs have  been in the 80s all week, and I have been compulsively checking the weather forecast for some sign that the Texas summer isn’t really starting yet. Today’s overcast skies and cool breezes give me hope. And did you know that some parts of the country had a blizzard this week? There must be hope for a spring snow day in Austin, right??

I probably won’t hold my breath. One good thing about this season-straddling weather is the simultaneous availability of local avocados, tomatoes, cilantro, citrus, beets, spring greens and winter greens. Having so many beautiful veggies together in my fridge a sign from above to make salad.

This week I created two new salad recipes that each come together in about 10 minutes, no cooking required. (Roast the beets ahead of time!) Each recipe makes an easy vegan main dish for two, or the perfect starter for a dinner party for 6.

The first recipe uses winter flavors of roasted beet, orange segments, and bitter greens for oomph. The second recipe is a classic guacamole salad, with cumin, cayenne and green garlic for heat since jalapenos aren’t in season yet. The inspiration for both salad dressings came from Elise Bauer’s Orange and Beet Salad Recipe. Her dressing base of olive oil and wine vinegar is genius in that she adds a little powdered mustard to help the dressing emulsify. I added some local ingredients–like Round Rock honey and cilantro from Naegelin farms– to her dressing recipe to enhance the flavors of the veggies and help them shine in each salad. I also opted for Texas pecans and dandelion greens in my version of the beet salad. You can’t beat the nutty pecan flavor against the pucker of bitter dandelion greens.

Salad of Roasted Beets, Oranges, Dandelion Greens
1 head red leaf lettuce, washed and torn into bite sized pieces
1 bunch dandelion greens, washed and torn into bite sized pieces
3 beets, roasted and skins removed, chopped (Do this ahead of time so they are cool!!)
2 navel oranges, peeled and segmented
1/4 cup pecan halves
Dressing:
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 teaspoon dried mustard
1/4 teaspoon paprika
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 tablespoon honey
salt and pepper to taste
Prepare all veggies and fruits and combine in a large bowl. Whiz the dressing ingredients together in a blender, or mix them together in a small jar. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss, serve immediately.

Salad of Avocado, Tomato, Cilantro and Green Onion
1 head green leaf lettuce, washed and torn into bite sized pieces
1 bunch cilantro, washed and chopped
1 bunch green onions, white part reserved, green parts chopped
1 bunch green garlic, white part reserved, green parts chopped
2 avocados, peeled with pits removed, chopped
3 tomatoes, cored and chopped
Dressing:
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
white parts from one bunch green garlic
white parts from one bunch green onions
1/4 teaspoon dried mustard
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 tablespoon honey
salt and pepper to taste
Prepare all veggies and combine in a large bowl, reserving the white stalks of the green garlic and green onions for use in the dressing. Combine stalks with remaining dressing ingredients in a blender and pulse until veggies are completely pureed and dressing emulsifies. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss, serve immediately.
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