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Red Beet, Cantaloupe, and Avocado Salad

Richard Blais / San Diego, CA / Excerpted from: Try This At Home: From my head to your plate by Richard Blais (Clarkson Potter). Copyright 2013.

Pairs with: Ginger DRY Soda

6 small red beets (about 1 lb.), tops removed
2 TB red wine vinegar
1 TB Dijon mustard
2 tsp champagne vinegar
1 tsp fresh lime juice
1 tsp honey
1 tsp finely grated fresh ginger
1 garlic clove, finely minced
1/3 C extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt to taste
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1/3 large ripe cantaloupe, seeded and rind removed
1 ripe avocado, halved and pitted
1/2 C fresh cilantro leaves (optional)
1/4 C fresh mint leaves, torn (optional)

Serves 4

- Put the beets in a small saucepan, cover with water, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of the red wine vinegar, cover, and cook until a knife inserted in to the center of a beet meets no resistance, about 45 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer the beets to a bowl.
- When they are cool enough to handle (use gloves to prevent the beets from staining your hands), use a paper towel to rub the skin off the beets. Quarter the beets lengthwise, return to the bowl, and while warm, drizzle with the remaining 1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar.
- Meanwhile, to make the dressing: In a small bowl, whisk the Dijon, champagne vinegar, lime juice, honey, ginger, and garlic together until combined. Whisking constantly, add the olive oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking until emulsified and thickened. Season with salt and pepper and whisk well.
- Cut the cantaloupe into pieces the size of the beets and add to the beets. Drizzle one-quarter of the dressing over and toss gently. Divide the beets and cantaloupe evenly among four salad plates. Using a small melon baller, scoop balls of the avocado and scatter over the plate. Drizzle more dressing over each plate and season each salad with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the cilantro leaves and mint, if using, evenly over the salads and serve immediately.