The delicate vegetables and greens of early spring contain sublime flavors that should not be overpowered but simply brought to their fullness. Grilling the vegetables allows them to retain their unique characteristics. The dance of sweet, acid, and bitter and the tangle of crunch, snap, and melt set this dish apart. Go to your farmers’ market to pick up soil-kissed beets, baby onions, radishes and just plucked snap peas, escarole, and radicchio.
Easy to make, bright, smooth, and luscious, the avocado-orange sauce lightly coats the caramelized veggies. This rich, fatty sauce balances with the vegetables’ leanness. In addition to adding another layer of flavor and texture to the dish, avocados contain healthy mono-saturated fats that may help lower LDL cholesterol levels, and oranges contain citrus limoniods, which help prevent numerous cancers (Sung; USDA).
6-7 small or medium beets, roasted, peeled, and cut in halves, depending on size
1 bunch baby red onions, peeled and washed
½ pound snap peas, washed and deveined
1 bunch long scarlet radishes, washed and cut in half if large
½ head of escarole (avoid the bitter, thick leaves old escarole)
½ head of Treviso radicchio (or another radicchio)
1 Navel orange, zest and juice (about ¼ cup of juice)
1 garlic clove, crushed
½-1 teaspoon champagne vinegar
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon olive oil
sea salt, to taste
1. Preheat the oven to 360 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Wash and place the beets in a baking dish. Add a tablespoon of oil, ½ cup of water, and a pinch of salt. Cover the top of the dish with parchment paper and aluminum foil.
3. Cook the beets for about an hour, or until they are just cooked through.
4. Allow the beets to cool, and then pull the skins off with your hands (use gloves if the red stain bothers you; always wash your hands first!)
5. Wash and prepare the other ingredients while the beets are cooling.
6. Prepare the sauce: crush the garlic and let it macerate in the orange juice for about 20 minutes, then place all of the ingredients in the food processor and process until smooth. Check the sauce for salt and acidity—it may be necessary to add a splash of champagne vinegar to kick up the acidity.
7. Heat the grill to medium-low.
8. Rub the grates with an oiled rag.
9. Lightly drizzle a few drops of olive oil on the veggies and salt them.
10. Cook the radishes, beets, and onions for about 6-7 minutes; cook the snap peas for about 3 minutes; and cook the radicchio and escarole for 2 minutes.
13. Arrange the vegetables on a serving platter or individual plates, and carefully spoon the avocado-orange sauce over them.
Sung, Evan. "Ask Well: Are Avocados Good for You?" New York Times, n.d. Web. 12 Mar. 2016.
USDA / Agricultural Research Service. "Health Benefits Of Citrus Limonoids Explored." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 April 2005.