Root vegetables are lovely as a side dish, but even better as a salad
It is snowing outside and it is late Autumn in Vermont. We just finished Thanksgiving, and we’ve eaten a lot of rich and wonderful foods. But we need a break! Something a little more healthful please!
It’s time for salads, but long gone are the luscious days of beautiful vine ripe tomatoes in every color, crispy fresh cucumbers, and fresh herbs of all kinds. But we can still eat local produce and serve up a crunchy, satisfying salad, one that is as pretty as anything we’d serve in the summer.
Beets are the star, with a few supporting players!
This dish uses beets as the star with crunchy radishes and pumpkin seeds to add textural interest. The goat cheese is both creamy and tangy and mellows out the earthiness of the beets. I have to say, I’m not the world’s biggest fan of beets, but this salad is lovely, both to look at and eat, and the intensity of the beets is calmed down by everything else, especially the goat cheese. The deep colored root vegetables contain a lot of vitamins and minerals as an added bonus.
I found the beets, onions, even the purple daikon radishes easily at the local farm stand. However, you can use any number of root vegetables in this salad, it doesn’t have to be about the beet. Add carrots, rainbow carrots would be nice here, parsnips, turnips, or even potatoes. Just roast them along with the beets. Mix things up for the best flavor. My goat cheese of choice for this salad is Vermont Creamery classic chèvre. See Vermont Creamery.
Unlike summer salads, this one tastes best served at room temperature.
Seasonal Salad of Beets and Goat Cheese
2 small red beets
2 small golden beets
Place on a baking sheet with a little olive oil and roast at 450 for about 25 minutes. You want the beets to be cooked, but not mushy.
While the beets are roasting, whisk together:
2 tbsp. cider vinegar
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
Pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper
1/2 small purple onion, minced
Set aside while the beets are cooking. This will soften the onion and infuse it with flavor.
Once the beets have cooked, let them cool to room temperature, unless you are impatient, in which case, hold the beets with a paper towel and peel! With a vegetable peeler, the skins should come right off. This is actually a good time to use latex gloves to keep the beets from turning your fingers red.
Prep the vegetables for your salad. You are going to want all your vegetables cut into plants and then into matchsticks. Try to make them uniform in size. You can also slice them and cut them into half moons, but I like this salad with the matchsticks.
In addition to cutting the beets into matchsticks, do the same for:
1 Daikon radish, purple if available,
1 watermelon or other sharp radish
Gently mix all the vegetables together, toss in the onion and all the vinaigrette, and add:
2 tbsp. pumpkin seeds
Save a few of the seeds to top the salad. Mix well and place in your serving dish. Top with the rest of the pumpkin seeds and:
2 oz. goat cheese, crumbled
Sprinkle with a little more salt. This stores well in the refrigerator for up to five days, but the dark red beets will eventually color everything else!
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