another great find from the farmers market last weekend were these beautiful beets. i got home, super excited by their perfect size and fresh greens, already making plans to roast them and store the greens to use later in the week. halfway through the oven pre-heating, considering it was at least 30 degrees outside, i realized i should have been making a raw salad or slaw. but hindsight is always 20/20 and i can never resist the sweet, earthy flavour of a perfectly roasted beet. sweating in the apartment for an hour afterwards was totally worth it.
i think i decided i was going to make a salad while strolling through the farmers market, and i think somewhere in the back of my mind, i’ve been wanting to cook with fennel for a bit (i’ve really wanted to make a roasted fennel dip, maybe that’s what triggered it?). fennel is one of those vegetables i never liked growing up. i remember at family dinners my nona would always have some sliced at the table, and everyone would snack on it, loving the slightly sweet, faint anise flavour. i was never a truly picky eater but something about a vegetable that tasted oddly like liquorice rubbed me the wrong way. once i got older and started pairing it with things such as apples, or sprinkling it with parmesan (but really, what doesn’t taste amazing covered in cheese), i grew to love it.
what really kept this salad summery was a bright grapefruit dressing. one of the best things i’ve learned cooking in the last couple of years is how to make salad dressings. it always seemed like such a daunting task, and i can’t remember why considering how easy it actually is. i was never satisfied with store-bought dressings. not enough of one ingredient, too much of another, always tasting kind of blah. my tastebuds are high maintenance! and i mean, how many times in your life should you really be dumping something called “zesty italian” on your veggies. i started making customized dressings for every salad and have never looked back.**
i also added some toasted walnuts and chopped fennel fronds as garnishes, which were a great addition to texture. goat cheese would be another amazing addition- the creamy tanginess complimenting the sweet flavour of the beets and acidity of the grapefruit dressing.
**i know i sound like a slight food snob with the salad dressing rant – and i promise you i really really am not. i am a not-so-secret lover of most things processed (KD, pogos, maybe even a frozen pie crust here or there). home-made dressings just taste infinitely better than store-bought. try this recipe and i promise you’ll be converted!
Roasted Beet & Fennel Salad with Grapefruit Vinaigrette
1 bunch beets
1 bulb of fennel
handful toasted, crushed walnuts
1/4 grapefruit, peeled (whole sections)
1/3 cup good olive oil
1 teaspoon grainy dijon mustard
2 teaspoons honey
salt & peppa to taste
heat oven to 400 degrees. wash and trim beets, leaving some water on the skin. wrap them individually in tinfoil and roast for about an hour or until easily pierced with a knife. once beets are roasted, let them cool until able to handle and peel. the skin should just slide off easily.
using a mandolin if you have one, thinly slice the fennel and beets and arrange on a plate.
to make the dressing, add all ingredients to a magic bullet or small blender and blend until combined. pour the dressing onto the fennel and beets, garnishing with fennel fronds and chopped toasted walnuts.