We’re Cooking: Chop Salad with Beet, Basil and Thyme Vinaigrette

I am a salad girl, enjoying one almost every night, at home or out, on its own or often topped with a grilled piece of juicy salmon or luscious shrimp.  I love fun salad combos, as fresh ingredients really just need the proper platform (or platter in this case) to allow them to shine.  Our local Central Market has put in a top notch juicing station with 20 different varieties of juice from 50 different combos available each day.  I love it as this is the easiest way to make sure you are getting a good amount of veggies in the diet every day.  One of my favorites is their garden blend with spinach, carrots, parsley, garlic and a base of beets.  Some people shy away from the beet….I love them.  It made me start experimenting with beet juice on its own, which I made by just roasting a beet then pureeing it and straining it through a sieve.  Mixing this juice with fresh basil and thyme (two flavor punches in any salad), champagne vinegar and a touch of olive oil made a healthy and flavorful dressing for this crunchy, savory salad of a rainbow of veggies.


Chop Salad with Beet and Basil Vinaigrette
For the salad:
5 oz mixed baby greens
5 oz baby spinach
1 English cucumber, chopped in half lengthwise, then cut into 1/4 inch half moons
1 small fennel bulb, shaved
7 radishes, shaved thin
1 yellow tomato, sliced thin
1 large red tomato, sliced thin
1 tablespoon capers, drained and rinsed
1/2 red pepper, sliced into 1/2 inch square pieces
1/2 yellow pepper, sliced into 1/2 inch square pieces
4 oz feta, crumbled

For the vinaigrette:
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons beet juice made from 1 whole beet, peeled and chopped then wrapped in foil and roasted in a 400 degree oven until soft.  Cool, puree and pushed through a sieve to extract as much juice as possible.
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon Champagne vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 shallot, minced
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon each Salt and pepper

For the dressing, combine all the ingredients in a jar with a tight sealing lid.  Secure the lid and shake vigorously to make sure everything is well combined.  Set aside until ready to use.  Add all of the salad ingredients to a large bowl (big enough to be able to toss the salad in the bowl) except the feta.  Add about 1/2 of the vinaigrette to the salad and begin to toss to coat with the dressing using salad tongs.  Add additional dressing to your taste.  Plate the salad individually, topping each serving with a good sprinkle of the feta; or serve family style with the feta sprinkled over the top of the whole salad.