Baby Vegetable Composed Salad
February 2 2020
In my humble opinion, there is no more elegant way to present a salad than composing it. That means that rather than tossing all the ingredients together, you separate them on the plate so that they shine individually. And, when I'm thinking of stepping it up for my honey on Valentine's Day, this is the way that I would do it.
And, not to be a Debbie Downer, but I'm not a big fan of eating out at a restaurant on Valentine's Day (or most major holidays, as a matter of fact). Typically the meals are over-priced and underwhelming. So, even though I may not want to cook, I set up a menu that is easy to prepare, can be done ahead, and allows me the opportunity to tell my baby just how much I love him through a delicious meal!
I am so fortunate to have the Old Town Scottsdale Farmers Market about a mile away from me. Every Saturday I head there first thing so that I can decide what needs to become part of my next meal! You never know what will be there, so it's always a surprise and a bit of a challenge to think of how I will use all the wonderful goodies I pick up there! This past weekend, I found gorgeous baby Chiogga beets, Red Crisp Lettuce, baby red onions (they look like scallions but have a red base), baby purple carrots and baby watermelon radishes, among other things. This became the basis for this salad. If you aren't so lucky as to have a wonderful farmer's market close by, it's okay to use full size beets or carrots. Just quarter the beets and halve or quarter the carrots lengthwise prior to roasting. Use scallions if you can't find the baby red onions.
And, if you want to really say I love you, arrange the salad on a heart-shaped plate!
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ROASTED BABY VEGETABLE
Makes 4 servings
Total Time: 40 minutes
8 baby Chiogga beets (baby red or orange beets will work, too), trimmed (See Chef's Note)
16 baby carrots, as slender as you can find
16 baby red onions (or scallions, as large as you can get)
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp Kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
8 baby watermelon radishes (or red radishes), thinly sliced
1 head Red Crisp lettuce
4 ounces Roquefort or Bleu Cheese, crumbled
3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tbsp agave nectar or honey
Kosher salt & freshly ground pepper
Preheat oven to 375°F. Place baby beets, carrots and onions in a large bowl and drizzle olive oil over. Season with salt and pepper and then mix vegetables so that they are lightly coated with the oil. Spread all vegetables on a baking sheet in a single layer (use two sheets if necessary…you don’t want to crowd them or they will steam vs roast). Try to keep similar vegetables together. Place in oven and roast.
After 10 minutes, remove the onions and place on a baking sheet. After 12 more minutes, remove the carrots and add to the same baking sheet. It should take the beets another 15 minutes, but test them by piercing it with a sharp knife. It should go in very easily, with no resistance. Depending on the size of the beets, it may take a little less or more time. Once the beets are nicely roasted, remove from oven.
On 4 individual plates, arrange the ingredients in groupings. Start with one or two lettuce leaves and then arrange the carrots, onions, and beets on the plate. Add the radishes and about 1-2 tablespoons of blue cheese to the plate.
For the dressing, in a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil and agave nectar until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Drizzle the dressing over the vegetables and serve.
If you aren't so lucky as to have a wonderful farmer's market close by, it's okay to use full size beets or carrots. Just quarter the beets and halve or quarter the carrots lengthwise prior to roasting. Use scallions if you can't find the baby red onions.
Vegetables can be roasted up to 4 hours ahead. Entire salad can be plated up to two hours prior to serving and kept covered in refrigerator. Drizzle dressing just before serving.