March 8, 2010
I am a salad person. A vegetable devotee. A greens munching, carrot chomping, beet roasting enthusiast. An addict. Our vegetable drawer gets more action than fruit and dairy combined. I spend a ridiculous amount of time in the produce section, pondering the peppers and tubers and brassicas. I’m the person you want to run over with your cart because I’ve parked in front of the green leaf lettuce and romaine, searching for the best looking bundle. Yes, I’m that person. My crazy affinity for all things vegetable may be pushing the limits of social acceptance. Lunch is usually a head turning Tupperware of leafy greens. Head turning because people are in awe of its sheer size, not because they are necessarily pining for its contents.
That….is your lunch? Do you have to take, like, 4 beano or something?
Um, no, but thanks for your concern.
But over the past couple of months, green leafy salads have been MIA from the lunch hour. My trusty Tupperware containers sit idle. The vegetable drawer is wondering if it will ever see the likes of spring greens or spinach again. Over the course of a drawn-out-waaaayyy-too long winter, leafy lunchtime fare has been replaced with soups and heated leftovers, toast with peanut butter and oatmeal. Desperate as I am for springtime eats, my cold salad cravings remain dormant so long as snow piles abound. That is to say until I met this salad last week. A transitional salad, if you will. Part crisp and cool, part roasted and room temperature, this salad was made for March in the Midwest when Mother Nature is an evil flip-flopper.
I made this salad twice in five days, both times resulting in me consuming an unmentionably large amount of vegetables in one sitting. I’d consider it a salad binge, if such an act exists. And I may or may not have licked the bowl clean. It’s possible.
As you may know, I’m drawn to beets and anything roasted, so this recipe practically jumped off the page, screaming my name. The beets and carrots roast at 500 degrees and emerge from the oven ever so slightly charred, fork tender and sweet. Like candy. The warm jewel-toned vegetables are drizzled with a simple shallot vinaigrette, left to cool to room temperature, then tossed with chilled peppery watercress. The best of both worlds. Salad’s totally back.
Roasted Beet and Carrot Salad with Watercress(Adapted from Cooks Illustrated)
- 1 pound red beets (about 4 medium)
- 1 pound carrots
- 3 T olive oil, divided
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 tsp sugar
- 2 T white wine vinegar
- 1 tsp honey
- 1 medium shallot, minced
- 4 oz watercress
Place a large rimmed baking sheet on the lowest oven rack and heat oven to 500 degrees.
Wash, trim and peel beets and cut into 1/2 inch wedges. Peel carrots and cut on bias into 1/4 inch slices. In a large bowl toss beets and carrots in 2 T olive oil, 1/2 tsp kosher salt, 1/4 tsp black pepper and sugar. Remove hot baking sheet from oven and quickly transfer beets and carrots to sheet, spreading in an even layer. Roast for 20-25 minutes or until tender and well-browned on one side. Do not stir during roasting.
In the now empty bowl, combine remaining 1 T olive oil, white wine vinegar, honey, shallots, 1/4 tsp kosher salt and 1/8 tsp black pepper.
Toss hot vegetables in vinaigrette and allow to cool to room temperature (about 30 minutes). Toss with watercress and serve.