Return of the salad

March 8, 2010

Roasted Beet and Carrot Salad with Watercress

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.

Serves 4.

  1. Sara

    March 8, 2010 at 12:16 pm

    mmmm we’d totally be lunch time friends, i love salads as well. They are so great for eaters because you can have so much of them and not feel terribly full! Great picture of the three veggies too ~

  2. Estela @ Weekly Bite

    March 8, 2010 at 12:23 pm

    I love beets too… but I’ve never cooked a raw beet before. I always get the canned stuff :( I’m definitely trying this salad! It looks incredible!

  3. Cathy Lamanna

    March 8, 2010 at 2:02 pm

    I have to give this one to Christie–she is a beet fanatic!
    I also love the peppery watercress! Thanks for this..

  4. Ellen

    March 8, 2010 at 4:45 pm

    Reminds me of the beet salad that we got at Moxie!

  5. Cathy

    March 8, 2010 at 6:37 pm

    by the way–prettiest salad photo ever–you are really getting great at the photos!..and the carrot photos is gorgeous (I love carrots and have a great Jamie Oliver recipe for them baked in foil!)

  6. fresh365

    March 9, 2010 at 11:54 am

    Yes, I love that salads are back in season! This one is so pretty!

  7. Looks delicious! You should add a few nuts (hazelnuts, pine nuts, …) to make it even more “complete”.

  8. M.

    March 11, 2010 at 4:19 pm

    I’m a salad person myself and this one looks so pretty and delicious….. I can’t wait for spring and it’s bounty….. I’m ready to make a switch from chard and kale to light and colorful salads.

  9. Sarah

    March 11, 2010 at 10:18 pm

    Oh my heavens yes. Roasted carrots and beet? Springy (in both senses of the word) greens? Sign me UP!

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