The other night after work I was so tired I didn't even feel like walking across the street to the store to pick up some ingredients for dinner. Yes, across the street. Lazy, I know, but we've all been there. Instead, I crossed my fingers and hoped there were enough odds and ends in the fridge to put together a meal. I was pleasantly surprised to find baby beets, easter radishes, and carrots (I'd completely forgotten that I impulsively bought the beets and radishes at the farmer's market a couple of days earlier). With lettuce, goat cheese, and thyme from breakfast the day before, I had a meal made. How serendipitous!
I love it when things just fall into place, since they rarely seem to, or maybe that's just my luck. Sometimes great dishes are born simply from ingredients you have on hand, and this was one such time. Aaron and I loved it so much, I made it again over the weekend. I think most people never think to roast radishes, at least I hadn't until earlier this year. I was pleased to find when roasted, radishes become sweet and tender, and you don't even have to peel them. I think they make a beautiful presentation for a spring inspired salad (especially the pink and white easter radishes). I love how quick this dish is to prepare. You don't have to bother peeling the baby beets either, since their skins are so delicate. That means no stained hands and no threat of dropping the little buggers and watching them roll across the kitchen floor into the dog's mouth. Sorry poocher.
You can certainly use whatever green(s) you prefer, but to keep with the spring theme, I like the use of mache or watercress. These superior little greens elevate the salad and give it a sense of elegance (when really it's nothing but simple roasted veggies). A quick and easy salad fit enough for company!
SPRING ROOT VEGETABLE SALAD WITH CHEVRE
For the salad:
1 bunch easter or plain radishes, unpeeled
2 bunches baby beets, scrubbed and washed, unpeeled
5-6 small carrots, peeled and cut on the bias into 1 1/2-inch pieces
2 cloves garlic, unpeeled and smashed
A handful of fresh thyme
1/4 cup olive oil
2 generous splashes sherry vinegar (about 2 tbsp.)
Salt and pepper
5 oz. mache lettuce or watercress
About 3 oz. Chevre or Farmer's cheese
For the dressing:
1/2 cup olive oil
3 to 4 tbsp. sherry vinegar
1 tsp. dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp. minced shallot
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. In a 9x13 oven-proof baking dish, combine the radishes, beets, carrots, and garlic. Drizzle the vegetables with olive oil and 2 splashes of vinegar. Season with salt and pepper and stir the vegetables until evenly coated in oil. Toss in the thyme. Roast the vegetables for 20 to 25 minutes, or until tender and beginning to brown.
While the vegetables are roasting, make the dressing: in a small jar with a tight fitting lid, combine all of the dressing ingredients. Shake well to combine. Taste to adjust seasonings, adding more vinegar if necessary.
Let the vegetables rest for a few minutes after roasting before tossing with the mache lettuce. Drizzle on the dressing and toss to combine. Garnish with chevre or farmer's cheese (alternatively, you can portion the lettuce on each plate accordingly and toss on the roasted veggies and garnish with the cheese. Drizzle the dressing on each plate).
Yield: 2 main-course servings, 4 first-course servings