When winter hits, it’s hard to find an excellent salad (at least in my mind since I’m a sucker for all things summer and produce-y). But don’t despair. Just because luscious tomatoes and heavenly corn and just-picked zucchini are no longer in the markets, you can still get your salad on.
Enter root vegetables: winter’s answer to variety. Sweet and earthy, these versatile veggies are packed with nutrients and bursting with flavor. Plus, when they are in season, as they are now, you’ll find them in heaping mounds in every market—and for cheap.
When roasted, these extraterrestrial-looking roots become tender and their flavors caramelize. A perfect counterpoint to salty-vinegary additions like goat’s cheese, toasted nuts, peppery arugula, and perky vinaigrette.
The great thing about this salad is that you can cook the vegetables in the morning, leave them at room temperature, then toss the salad together at the last minute. To simplify this dish, instead of the crostini, just crumble the fresh goat cheese directly onto the salad.
Make this with the veggies listed below, or branch out and try a whole range of root vegetables such as turnips, celery root, sunchokes (Jerusalem artichokes), or sweet potatoes/yams. The salad can also be made very successfully with roasted winter squash like acorn, kuri, or butternut squash as well. And if you are nuts about nuts, like I am, top the salad with your favorite chopped toasted nuts, like almonds, pecans, or hazelnuts.
Recipe: Autumn Root Vegetable Salad with Goat Cheese Crostini
Makes 6 to 8 servings
- 1 lb small beets, preferably golden
- 1 lb small carrots with tops attached
- 1 lb small parsnips
- 1 large or 2 small red onions
- Olive oil
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 rustic baguette, cut into 1/4-inch slices (about 12 slices)
- 8 oz fresh goat cheese
- 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 tsp country-style Dijon mustard
- About 5 oz organic baby arugula (1 bag)
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. Trim and scrub the beets, then place them in a baking dish that can hold them in a single layer. Add 1/2 cup water, cover tightly with foil, and roast until tender, about 1 hour. Let cool, then slide off the peel and cut into thin wedges.
- Meanwhile, trim and peel the carrots and parsnips (unless you can find young, tender, organic vegetables, and then just scrub them). Cut into wedges if large or leave whole if small. Cut the onion into wedges. Add the vegetables to a large rimmed baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Roast the vegetables until just tender, about 40 minutes, turning occasionally for even cooking. Let cool to room temperature on the pan.
- While the vegetables are cooling, toast the crostini. Brush both sides of each baguette slice with olive oil and place on a baking sheet. Toast in the oven until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Spread each crostini thickly with goat cheese. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil.
- In a small jar or container, add the balsamic vinegar, mustard, and 1/4 cup olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Shake vigorously to combine (you can also put it into a small bowl and whisk to combine).
- In a mixing bowl, toss the arugula with about 2 tbsp of the vinaigrette; transfer to a serving platter or shallow salad bowl. Add the roasted vegetables to the mixing bowl and toss with 2 tbsp vinaigrette. Top the arugula with the roasted vegetables.
- Arrange the crostini around the salad if using a platter, or serve alongside each individual salad.