I created this salad to take advantage of a totally new, superbly rich wine here at Frey Vineyards: our just released Organic Tannat, vintage 2010. Balsamic vinegar reductions are one of my favorite ingredients to make from scratch, so I had to try the same reducing technique with this tasty tannat and its thick-as-ink texture. I was most surprised and pleased. The best flavors of the wine permeated the vinaigrette, along with its gorgeous color.
Roasted Beet Salad with Frey Tannat Vinaigrette.
The vinaigrette is added to a roasted beet salad, with red butter lettuce, fresh avocado and strawberry slices, a touch of onion, and raw chopped almonds. Enjoy with a warm baguette and a glass of Frey Organic Tannat wine.
I use all organic ingredients when possible.
1 large beet
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1 large head of red butter lettuce
1 large avocado
1 cup sliced strawberries
1/2 cup raw chopped almonds
4 slices red onion
3/4 cup shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano (Parmesan cheese)
3/4 cup Frey Organic Tannat wine (a deep red wine)
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon orange zest
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon maple syrup
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Let’s start with the beet. Cut it into 1/4" thick strips, just like French fries but healthier! Toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon thyme, a pinch of salt and pepper. Roast in a 350F oven until soft (approx. 20 min. to 1/2 hr.). Let it cool. Then toss with 2 teaspoons of the Tannat vinaigrette, which you will make soon. Set aside.
Roasted beets with Tannat vinaigrette added.
Now on to the main salad ingredients. Keep each separated for now, and handle some ingredients carefully as later you will use some for garnish. Wash and dry the red butter lettuce and tear into pieces by hand (otherwise you will have to eat the salad with the help of a knife, which I prefer not to do). Slice up the avocado and strawberries. Chop up the raw almonds (I prefer the almonds raw, as they are more nutritious and I love the flavor, but you may toast if you prefer). Separate the rings from the red onion slices. Shave the Parmigiano-Reggiano (I use a potato peeler which makes paper-thin translucent slices that are beautiful).
Slicing Parmigiano-Reggiano with a potato peeler.
Time to make the Frey Tannat Vinaigrette! Put into a sauce pan the Tannat wine, balsamic vinegar and the orange zest. Bring to a boil, then let it simmer until it reduces to around 1/4 cup, which takes about 15 minutes. Important: keep an eye on it because it’s possible to reduce it to thin air! Let cool a few minutes, then pour into a blender. Add the salt and pepper and maple syrup. With the blender running, slowly pour in the olive oil in a thin stream. It will thicken nicely (emulsifying technique) and the color will turn to a shade of purple.
Add 2 teaspoons of the vinaigrette to the roasted beets. Mix until the beets are coated.
One quick note about the remaining vinaigrette. I added half a cup to the rest of the salad and found that to my liking. You may prefer to add more or less to your taste. Adding all of it might be too strong for some. If you have leftover vinaigrette, you may use some as dip for the baguettes, marinate a steak in it, or save it for tomorrow’s salad!
Add the vinaigrette to the salad and toss in the salad bowl, so the dressing coats everything. Tossing tends to send the heavier ingredients to the bottom to hide under the lettuce. So for presentation, set aside 4 or 5 beautiful slices of the avocado and strawberries, the onion rings, and some chopped almonds – enough to garnish to your heart’s delight.
(Recipe & images copyrighted © Tamara Frey, 2012. All right reserved.)