"The beet is the most intense of the vegetables. The radish, admittedly, is more feverish, but the fever of the radish is a cold fire, the fire of discontent, not of passion. Tomatoes are lusty enough, yet there runs through tomatoes an undercurrent of frivolity. Beets are deadly serious."
I love Thanksgiving, don't get me wrong...but after a week of turkey, turkey leftovers and an enormous vat of turkey soup, the Mister and I were ready for some bold flavors. This salad fit the bill perfectly. We had it alone on a bed of chopped romaine (in lieu of arugula) as a light supper, but it would make a nice accompaniment to a roast beef dinner. That the vegetables can be roasted hours ahead of time makes it a wonderful side dish during the holidays when oven space is at a premium. We were crazy for this, but had a disagreement regarding the addition of pears. The Mister loved them, but I thought I may have preferred the dish solidly savory. You can decide for yourself.
This recipe is inspired by one that appeared in Southern Living a year ago. That one used sweet potatoes, parsnips and beets. My version uses beets, turnip, carrot and cipollini onions, along with chopped pears, chopped smoked almonds and Gorgonzola cheese. Their horseradish vinaigrette was brilliant though, and my only tampering was to add a teaspoon of honey.
If you are unused to handling fresh beets, here is a tip. You should prepare them separately and roast them on their own baking sheet. You may want to wear dish-washing gloves while you peel them and chop them, and keep them away from the other vegetables or they will bleed all over everything and make all a homogeneous red, which takes away from the pleasing colorful look of the dish.
The other vegetables can all be roasted together on a second baking sheet. Set them aside at room temperature for up to 3 hours and assemble the right before serving. We really loved this dish. Even though I made it last week, we are ready to have it again. It is a symphony of flavors that all make sense together (with or without the pears) and make your palate sing!
Roasted Root Vegetable Salad with Horseradish Vinaigrette
Serves 2-3 as a main dish salad, or 6-8 as a side dish
1 medium turnip (about 1 pound) peeled and chopped into bite-size cubes
3 large carrots (about 3/4 pound) sliced into 1/2 pieces. If they are very big, slice them in half.
3 or 4 large fresh beets, peeled and chopped into bite-size cubes
12 - 15 small cipollini onions, peeled
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 chopped pear
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
1/3 cup smoked toasted almonds, roughly chopped
1 small bag of arugula, mescalin greens or 1 head of romaine, chopped
Horseradish Vinaigrette (recipe follows)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with aluminum foil. Peel and chop the beets, then toss in a bowl with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, half the salt and half the pepper. Spread on one of the baking sheets. Clean surfaces and bowl, then toss the remaining vegetables in the bowl with the remainder of the olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread on the second baking sheet. Place both in the oven and bake for 50 minutes, rotating the trays halfway through roasting time. Test one of the larger chunks to make sure the vegetables are tender before you remove them. Set aside and let cool completely and for up to 3 hours.
Right before serving, slice or chop unpeeled, cored pear as desired. Toss with lemon juice.
Place vegetables in a large bowl, add pears. Drizzle with desired amount of dressing and toss carefully. To serve family style, spread chilled greens in the bottom of a large serving platter or shallow bowl. Pile vegetables (with pear) on top in a mound. Sprinkle with Gorgonzola and then nuts. Serve at room temperature immediately with any additional dressing.
1/2 cup bottled olive oil and vinegar dressing
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon honey
Whisk together all ingredients.
If you like this, you might also be interested in: