Have you read this article in the New York Times? Recently I told Dan I’d like to gain some more confidence in the kitchen and perfect more basics and “weeknight” type meals. My interest in cooking and baking was first piqued by reading other food blogs, most of which (like mine) focus on recipes.
I’m good at following instructions and I think I have a good sense of what will work well together and turn out tasty. But often I lean on recipes like too much of a crutch, following instructions and ingredients to the tee, mainly through fear of messing something up should I go astray. This is the primary reason I like simple recipes. They allow for some variation and adaptation without fear of anything collapsing, burning, or blowing up.
What this article talks about though, is something that really speaks to me and that is ditching recipes and instead familiarizing yourself with basic techniques and skills. If, like me, you didn’t grow up around parents who cooked from scratch at every opportunity then there’s a high likelihood that conjuring up a great meal after one glance in the fridge as if by magic doesn’t really work for you.
So I give you this salad in the spirit of simplifying life and ditching recipes every now and then in favour of spending less time thinking about food and more time just enjoying it.
I started with some fresh arugula (rocket, in the UK. A much cooler name, incidentally.) and then found a selection of root vegetables (choose whatever is in season where you are – carrots, parsnips, potatoes, beets, sweet potatoes, turnips – see what you find). I always find roasting vegetables to be the simplest way to bring out their delicious flavour. (You know my feelings on roasted broccoli.)
What really does the trick here though, is the dressing. It’s very simple but it just elevates this into proper salad territory. Red wine vinegar (balsamic would be good too), lemon juice, salt and pepper, mustard, fresh parsley. Bam. Throw some tangy feta cheese on top and you. are. golden.
Roasted Winter Vegetable Salad
- 2 handfuls arugula (rocket)
- 2 carrots, cut into 3/4 inch pieces
- 2 parsnips, cut into 3/4 inch pieces
- 1 beet, cut into 1 inch pieces
- 1 small sweet potato, cut into 1 inch pieces
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1/4 cup walnuts
- 1 1/2 tsp red wine vinegar
- 1 1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice
- salt and pepper
- 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
- 2 tbsp flat leaf parsley, chopped
- 1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled
- Preheat your oven to 400F. Toss chopped parsnips, carrots, beets, and sweet potato in a roasting pan and drizzle with 2 tbsp olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast , shaking and turning occasionally for about 30-45 minutes.
- While those are roasting, add walnuts to a baking sheet and toast in the oven for about 6-10 minutes, keeping an eye on them to make sure they don’t burn. Remove from the oven and chop them into small pieces.
- Next make your dressing: get a big bowl and whisk together the red wine vinegar, lemon juice, remaining olive oil and mustard. Season with salt and pepper. Fold in the chopped parsley. Add the vegetables, walnuts, and arugula to the dressing and toss. Sprinkle with crumbled feta cheese and serve with a nice hunk of bread.