This is salad overload. I know. And Lance definitely hasn’t overlooked this occurrence. I planned to do something a little bit sweeter today but hey, you’ll thank me when you’re out on the boat/beach/pool this weekend, since Memorial Day weekend marks the start of bathing suit season. Womp womp.
The real reason I’ve had to make so many salads is to balance out the unusually large amount of chocolate I’ve gobbled up the past couple of days. I think all the women know what that means: prehistoric monster symptoms for sure. But salad + chocolate = balanced meal, right?! If I’m not right, I don’t wanna be right… 😉
OK, confession: I’m a beet hater. Well, I WAS a beet hater. I guess the last time I had eaten cooked beats was at a nice restaurant a couple of years ago. I ordered a salad with beets in it because I thought it seemed fancy and although I ate them without a word of complaint, I really was not a fan.
I pride myself these days on liking pretty much any and all foods, though, so I knew I was going to have to give beets a second chance. I started sneaking them into some of our smoothies to at least get the health benefits. By the way, did you know…
Beets are one of the best pre-workout foods because they’re low in calories but high in sugar. But it’s sugar that releases slowly into your blood stream, giving you sustained energy.
Beets have more iron than spinach, more potassium than bananas, and are extremely high in antioxidants, fiber, folate, magnesium, and vitamins A & C (source: gardening).
They’re basically incredibly good for you. So I thought long and hard about how to give this root vegetable a second chance. Avocados? Good. Maple syrup vinaigrette? Good. Candied Pecans? Triple good. As Joey said on Friends, “What’s not to like?!”
This was also my first time candy-ing (is that a word?) nuts and it was actually incredibly easy! It only takes a few minutes and they are to die for. Don’t skip that step if you can help it because these really made the salad.
I can’t believe it’s 11:30pm already – I’d better get my sleepy self to bed. Tomorrow I’m going to be running all over, getting everything ready for our drive to South Carolina. My dad lives on a lake there so we figured it would be a great time to visit – I can’t think of a better way to spend Memorial Day weekend than out on the boat! Packing enough food for us to eat for 5 days takes a lot of preparation, though, so I’ll be a busy girl tomorrow. What are your fun plans for the long weekend?!
Makes 2 servings
- 4 cups baby spinach (or 4 fistfuls)
- 1 bunch beets (4 or 5 small beets)
- 1 avocado, peeled and cubed
- 1 red onion, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup pecans
- 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup (I thought I could have actually done with a little less)
- dash of cayenne pepper
- 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon + 1/2 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
Preheat the oven to 350. Cut the stems off of the beets, leaving about an inch on each to keep too much juice from spilling out in the oven. Wrap the beets up in aluminum foil and place directly on the rack in the oven. Set the timer for 1 hour.
Heat a non-stick pan to medium heat and toast the pecans, while stirring, for 4 minutes. Add the 3 tablespoons of maple syrup. Bring it to a boil while stirring, if it isn’t boiling already, and let it boil for 2 minutes. Turn off the heat and immediately slide all of the pecans and maple onto a piece of parchment paper. Set aside to cool.
In a small bowl, whisk together the last tablespoon of maple syrup, the balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, and olive oil. Set aside.
Assemble your salads on separate plates, if you wish, by spreading out the spinach and then sprinkling the avocado cubes and red onions on top. If the pecans are cooled, break them apart and place them on the salad as well.
Check on the beets – they are done when a fork slides easily through them. Let them cool for a minute (or run them under cool water) and then use your fingers to rub the skins off. Wear gloves if you don’t want your fingers to temporarily turn pink. If there are tough spots, just grab a pairing knife and nip them off.
Slice the beets into quarters and spread evenly between the two salads. Drizzle the dressing over top and enjoy right away! Feel free to toss all the ingredients into a big bowl and mix it all together if you prefer – tastes just as great! 😉
I’ll leave you with this. Gets me every time…
Food For Thought: “The trick is to enjoy your life. Don’t wish away your days, waiting for better ones ahead.” ~ Majorie Pay Hinckley (We all need to hear this every once in a while!)
Enjoy your Memorial Day weekend, everyone! I’ll be posting some great dishes that will fit right into the festivities so stay tuned! 🙂