The beauty of this dish is that it’s colorful and earthy at the same time. Paradise Farms (near Homestead, Florida) supplies us with organic beets—all young and many of them heirloom—but if you don’t have access to farm-fresh beets just use conventional beets and cut them into a ½-inch dice after cooking and cooling. We love delicate quail eggs, and sometimes you can find them at grocery or specialty stores. If you do, just cut them in half. If not, use hard-boiled hens’ eggs: separate the yolks from the whites and grate them separately on a box grater until they look like small crumbles; then just sprinkle them on the salad.
4 small to medium red or golden beets
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
20 asparagus spears
4 quail’s eggs
1 large shallot, cut into fine dice
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed orange juice
¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chervil
¼ teaspoon chopped lemon zest
¼ teaspoon chopped orange zest
4 handfuls frisée or mixed salad greens
Heat the oven to 400°F.
Wash and trim the beets. Put them in a baking dish, add a splash of water, and cover tightly. Roast the beets in the oven for about 45 minutes, or until they are cooked through and fork-tender. Allow the cooked beets to cool, uncovered.
Peel and cut the beets into wedges. Put them in a bowl and season generously with salt and pepper. Add the vinegar and oil, and toss gently. Set aside.
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Prepare an ice-water bath. Blanch the asparagus until crisp-tender; then transfer to the ice-water bath and leave until completely cooled. Place the asparagus on paper towels to dry, and set aside (reserve the ice-water bath).
Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Carefully lower the quail’s eggs into the pot. Boil gently for 3 minutes. Transfer the eggs to the ice-water bath and let them cool completely. Peel and set aside.
FOR THE VINAIGRETTE
Put the shallot in a bowl and add the vinegar, the juices, and a pinch of salt. Let stand for 5 to 15 minutes. Then whisk in the oil, and stir in the chervil and zests. Taste for seasoning.
TO ASSEMBLE THE SALAD
Toss the frisée with a drizzle of the vinaigrette and arrange some on each of 4 salad plates. Next, create a bed with the asparagus; then add a few beet wedges. Top each salad with a quail egg that has been cut in half. (It should have a slightly undercooked center.) Drizzle all with another teaspoon of the vinaigrette.