Please take your computer screen–this may be tricky, if you have a laptop–and detach it from the base. Good. Now nail it to the wall with this post prominently featured because DANG, isn’t this salad that I made yesterday a work of art? I’m mighty proud of it. In fact, I’m so proud of it, maybe I don’t even want to tell you how I made it because then you may steal my thunder and tell people that YOU invented it, not me. Well, it’s not like I invented it, but you know what I mean. Ok, fine, you wore me down…here’s how this artful plate of food came into existence.
It begins with two words that, for many, are starting to sound obnoxious: “farmer’s market.”
Yes, I went to the farmer’s market on Sunday, it’s becoming a ritual for us here in Atwater (we can just stroll over) though this Sunday was so uncomfortably hot, we drove over. Anyway: on my walk through, I spied bunches of beets which I bought, as well as bright orange carrots. I think carrots are one of the best things you can buy at a farmer’s market because supermarket carrots can be really starchy and sad.
On Monday (which was yesterday, in case you’re lost in the space/time continuum), I dug up these ingredientses and decided to make lunch. First thing: roasting the beets. I preheated the oven to 425, lined a cookie sheet with foil, washed the beets and cut off the tops and bottoms but didn’t peel them. Then I made foil pouches of 3 beets each, drizzling each cluster with olive oil and sprinkling with salt and pepper, then closing up the pouch. I put the two pouches (each contained 3 beets) on to the sheet and into the oven and about 45 minutes later, when a knife went through easily, I took the sheet out and removed the pouches to a cutting board to cool.
Then on that same foil lined cookie sheet, I placed my carrots. The small carrots I just scraped with a knife (if you don’t peel them, and scrape them, they stay pretty); the large ones I cut in half vertically. Try to keep a little of the green on top. I tossed them all with olive oil, salt and pepper:
I pumped the oven up to 475 and separated the carrots out so they each had some room, then popped them in. I can’t give you an exact cooking time, but watch them as they cook—you want them to turn dark brown at the edges (you should flip them over at least once) and for a knife to go through easily. Here they are, all done:
On Sunday, when I bought all these ingredients, I also cooked a big pot of chickpeas which is probably going to be another post about cooking up a big pot of chickpeas so you have them for the week. I’m telling you this here, though, because the chickpeas figure in momentarily.
At this moment, I made a dressing by shaking some mustard, balsamic vinegar and olive oil in a jar. It was a thick dressing and I thought if I spooned the dressing over the carrots and beets, it would look gloppy and gross. So I got out my pastry brush (yes, I really did this) and PAINTED the carrots and the beets with the dressing. Laugh, if you must, but it actually worked really well. Everything got a nice dose of dressing and there weren’t gloppy pools on the plate. (Oh, I forgot to tell you how to peel the beets: just open up those packets, and rub the beets with paper towels and the skins slip right off. Then you can either cut them into quarters or slices, whichever is prettiest.)
To plate, lay down a few carrots, place down some of the beets, and scatter everything with some of the chickpeas (see: I told you those would come back), crumbled goat cheese and lightly chopped cilantro or parsley. Just before serving, drizzle a little more olive oil on top and grind some pepper over everything. Let’s look one more time, shall we?
If you have an urge to to dip this salad in Carbonite like Han Solo in Empire Strikes Back, to preserve it forever, I won’t blame you. Just try a beet before you do: they’re really good.