This salad is beautiful to behold. It is bright green with jewel-toned segments of ruby red grapefruit, deep burgundy beets and creamy pale green avocado. The grapefruit dressing is light and refreshing – not too tart – with a hint of shallots and just a kiss of salty sweetness. I recommend this salad for any festive occasion throughout the winter months, but it’s especially ideal for Valentine’s Day as both arugula and avocados are reputed to be aphrodisiacs. Avocados are also associated with male sexuality. The Aztecs’ name for the avocado tree was Ahuacuatl, “testicle tree.” However, the Spanish found avocados so obscenely sexy that Catholic priests once prohibited their consumption!
As a shortcut, rather than roasting the beets yourself, look for precooked beets in a package in the produce section of your grocery store. (This is what I do.) Look for Love Beets brand. The salad is topped with herbed white bean medallions, which are easy to prepare. I use a spritz of olive oil to fry the medallions in a non-stick pan, which gives them a decadent, crispy fried golden exterior, with minimal fat. However, if you are following a totally oil-free diet, it’s easy to skip the oil. Just leave off the extra coating of bread crumbs and fry the medallions in a non-stick pan without oil. They’ll still be delicious, just slightly less decadent.
- ¼ of a (5-ounce) box baby arugula or baby arugula and spinach blend, roughly chopped
- 1 small head butter lettuce, washed and torn
- 4 small red roasted beets
- 2 ruby red grapefruit, skin and pith cut off and sections removed using the supreme method (use a sharp knife to cut in between the membranes) – squeeze leftover center section and save juice to use in vinaigrette
- 2 avocados, seeded, peeled and sliced
- Fat-free Ruby Red Grapefruit Vinaigrette
- 1 cup grapefruit juice
- 1 small shallot, minced, about 1 tablespoon
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1 medjool date, pitted, soaked in water overnight and chopped
- ¼ teaspoon guar gum (a natural thickener, available at natural food stores or online)
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- Herbed White Bean Medallions
- 1 (15-ounce) can white beans – great northern or cannellini, drained and rinsed
- 1 tablespoon ground flax seeds mixed with 3 tablespoon water
- ¼ cup seasoned dry bread crumbs (make sure they are vegan and all-natural)
- 1 tablespoon minced shallot
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- A few turns freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- ¼ cup extra bread crumbs for dredging
- Roast the beets: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Peel beets and cut into eights. Place beets in a glass pie pan or 8-inch baking dish sprayed with cooking spray and add ¼ cup water. Cover tightly with foil and bake for 1 hour.
- Make dressing. Place grapefruit juice, shallot, red wine vinegar, date, guar gum and sea salt in a blender and blend until smooth, viscous and beautifully pink.
- Make the herbed white bean medallions: Place drained and rinsed white beans in a large bowl and mash gently with a potato masher until beans are about halfway mashed. Add flaxseed-water mixture, dry seasoned bread crumbs, shallot, thyme, salt, pepper and lemon juice. Mash a bit more and stir to combine until a dough forms. Mixture should be kind of lumpy. Roll into a log, slice into disks and, with your hands, pat into six medallions.
- Dredge each medallion in extra bread crumbs, then spray one side with oil. Place oiled side down in large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Once medallions are down in the pan, spray tops gently with oil. Cook for 5-7 minutes per side or until golden brown on each side.
- Plate salad: on each of four salad plates, place a handful of butter lettuce and a scattering of arugula. Top with beets, grapefruits and avocado. Drizzle with vinaigrette and a bit of freshly ground black pepper, if desired. Sprinkle with pistachios and top with two white bean medallions.
Nutrition Facts: The consumption of beans has been shown to lower resting heart rate as much as exercise. In a study at Columbia University it was found that aerobic conditioning leads to a decrease in heart rate of 3.49.
In a study St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, Canada , it was found that the consumption of a low-glycemic diet, including at least one cup of beans per day, had a similar effect, reducing heart rate by 3.4 beats per minute.
Working to lower our heart rate is important, for as our heart rate climbs above 65 beats per minute, we increase our risk of premature death, including risk of death from stroke or cardiovascular disease .
So, for optimal health, be sure to exercise AND eat beans every day. This salad is just one of the many ways to enjoy beans!
Recipe by Emily Honeycutt, 2016. © All Rights Reserved. www.emilyhoneycutt.com
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