Happy New Year 2016! A little late, but still the first month of 2016. I am embracing the beginning of a New Year. It’s my mental opportunity to start fresh and set goals for the coming year. “Detox” all my bad habits away and focus my vision on what I want my year ahead to look like.
The last two years I have started my new year in Hawaii. Hawaii is a beautiful place to relax and soak up the world of nature. The Hawaiians remind me of how special our natural world is and NOT to take it for granted. While in Hawaii I could not get enough of the beaches, ocean, flowers, fresh tropical fruits, and fish.
So from my blissful Hawaii state of mind, I thought about my vision/goals for 2016.
- To live a more natural and simple life. I do believe simplicity brings happiness and connecting to nature helps clear the mind.
- Exercise more. Always more! and outside if possible, walking is a favorite.
- Eat more plant based foods. Ever since reading Michael Pollan’s book “In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto,” his quote, “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” forever is present in my subconscious. As a cookbook connoisseur and general food loving person, the “Eat More Plants” mantra is growing and becoming more present in all things written and practiced about food. More recipes are focusing on vegetables with flavors that draw you in and you can’t resist trying them. My latest favorite cookbook “Gjelina” by Travis Lett is the perfect example – a must read and cook everything in it kind of cookbook. What I especially love about Gjelina is the straight forward prep and then adding a condiment or spice blend for extra flavor and freshness.
With inspiration from “Gjelina” I started my new year with a roasted beet, avocado, orange, fennel, almond, and sherry vinegar salad. The vibrant colors, textures, and flavors caught my attention when paging through “Gjelina”. It is the perfect salad for the first month of a new year.
- 1 -1/2 lbs. red beets medium size
- 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons water
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1-1/2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed orange juice
- 3 oranges sectioned (see below)
- 3 tablespoons raw whole almonds roughly chopped
- 1 ripe large avocado sliced
- 1 fennel head cored and shaved thinly
- 2 tablespoons parsley chopped
- Sea salt flakes I used Maldon
- Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
Preheat oven to 400 F
In a heavy roasting pan, toss the beets with 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, 2 tablespoons water, salt, and pepper. Cover tightly with foil. Bake for approximately 30-40 minutes or until tender when pierced with a knife tip. When the beets are cool enough to handle, slip the skins off and cut each beet into quarters.
In a medium bowl, toss the beet quarters with 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, 1-1/2 tablespoons sherry vinegar, and 1 tablespoon orange juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Let the beets marinate while you prepare the oranges, fennel, almonds, and parsley.
Section the oranges by cutting the bottom and top off of the orange. With a paring knife cut the the skin off of the orange by standing it on a cutting board and working from the top to the bottom. Next, hold the orange cut the sections out from between the membrane.
Slice the avocado and thinly shave the fennel with a mandolin or knife.
Arrange the beets on a platter with the avocado, fennel and orange sections. Sprinkle with the crushed almonds and parsley. Finish with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Serve immediately.
Hau óli Makahiki Hou! (Happy New Year in Hawaiian)