Preparation / Directions:
The Beets: Wash and dry the beets well. Rub them with the 1 1/2 Tablespoons of olive oil. Place them in a baking pan with 1 ounce of water. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 40 minutes to 1 hour and 15 minutes or until they are fork tender. Allow the beets to cool. Peel off the outer skin and small dice. This should yield about 3 cups. Place the diced beets, blood orange oil and cilantro in a bowl and toss. Season to taste with salt and fresh ground pepper. Reserve in the refrigerator.
The Asparagus: While the beets are roasting, blanch the asparagus in salted boiling water for about 3 minutes until it is tender and bright green. Shock the asparagus in ice water for about 3-5 minutes or until it is cold throughout . Dry the asparagus and chop it into a small dice. This should yield about 3 cups. Reserve in the refrigerator.
The Dijon Vinaigrette: While the beets are roasting or a couple of days in advance, combine the egg yolk, Dijon, and vinegar in a bowl. With a wire wisk, mix the ingredients well. Slowly in a steady stream, drizzle in the oil to form and emulsion. Add the parsley, chives and shallots. Mix well and season to taste with salt and fresh ground pepper. Reserve in the refrigerator.
The Moroccan Spice and Almonds: While the beets are roasting, or 1 day before, remove the zest from 1 orange and place in a small oven proof container in the oven to dry out, watching constantly as not to burn it. Once the zest is dry allow it to cool. In a coffee grinder, add the cardamom, broken cinnamon stick, allspice and cloves and grind until fine. Pour the spices into a small bowl. Grind the dry orange rind in the same fashion and add it to the other spices. Add the sugar and salt and mix well with a fork. Reserve in an airtight container.
Toast the almonds in a dry saute pan over medium heat on the stove until lightly golden brown. Drizzle the 1 Tablespoon of oil on the almonds and continue to toast for another 30 seconds. Pull the almonds off the heat and pour them evenly onto a cookie sheet. Sprinkle the almonds with about 1 - 1 1/2 Tablespoons of the Moroccan spice and continue to toast in the oven for approximately 1 - 2 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool completely. Reserve.
To Build the Dish: Remove the beets, asparagus, vinaigrette and cheese from the refrigerator 1/2 an hour before serving. Add about 2 - 3 ounces of the Dijon vinaigrette to the asparagus and toss well. Season to taste with salt and pepper. In a round mold or free style, divide the asparagus onto the center of 6 plates. Add a layer of the dressed asparagus on top of the beets. (If you are using a mold, you will need to layer the beets and then the asparagus onto one plate before removing the mold and repeating onto the second plate and so forth.) Toss the field greens in some of the blood orange oil and place some of them onto the asparagus. Place 1 piece of Maytag blue cheese on top of the greens. Sprinkle each plate with the almonds. Garnish each plate with drizzles of Dijon vinaigrette, blood orange oil and chopped chives.
Makes 6 large or 8 small salads.