Monday, March 7, 2011

Meatless Monday: Beet & Carrot Salad

Last weekend the Boy, my father and I went to the Brickworks Farmer's Market.  It was the first time we had been, even though it's been on my list of things to check out for quite sometime.  First because I love Farmer's Markets but also because it takes place year round.  There aren't many winter farmer's markets in these parts and the fact that this one was in the East End made it even more appealing.

The vibe at the farmer's market was great.  It was cold outside and so warm in the building where the market took place.  Full of families and fellow foodies, there not only for some great food to bring home but also for Saturday morning coffee & breakfast.  The boy got some belgian waffles with crunchy caramelized sugar on the edges and apple beignets. I had the best crepe I've ever had in my life from Clement's Crepes. The All-Day Breakfast Crepe had eggs, maple smoked ham, green onion, mozzarella cheese and hollandaise.  Clement does this fancy thing with the cheese, called a hangover, where he lets it hang over the edge of the crepe onto the grill and it gets all crispy and brown.  The hangover is a great name because I'm sure this filling and savory crepe with that little bit of crunch would cure whatever ails you the morning after. Dad got freshly fried French Fries sprinkled with fresh thyme with sides of  homemade ketchup and cilantro & lime mayonnaise.  This was all in the very first room!  Had we continued on we would have found ooey gooey cinnamon rolls (I did buy one for later even though I was obnoxiously stuffed from my crepe), pies from the Canadian Pie Company, various sandwiches and soups and a vendor selling Ethiopian food.  Luckily we were more than happy with our choices, but a return trip is definitely in order, though I'm not sure I'll even make it past Clement's Crepes.

Since it was a winter market in Toronto, the vegetable offering mainly consisted of various root veggies and some greenhouse produced greens.  This was great for the Boy, a lover of beets and just about every root vegetable.  I'm the first to admit that I'm not a fan of beets.  They are often bought with all of my best intentions to do something fun with them but then, I'm embarrassed to say, end up going to waste. Regardless of this we picked up a bunch of little red beets. I was determined that these lovely little roots wouldn't go to waste, even if I just roasted them to put on salads for the Boy, I would use them somehow.  There were some awesome looking ugly carrots from the same vendor that we had to get, one looked like a 3-fingered hand. We also picked up some organic grass fed pork (stay tuned for some of that later this week), smoked dried tomatoes and local honey.

But back to those beets.  What could I do with them?  I started to think that maybe there was something I would be able to do with both the carrots and the beets together.  They sat for a few days as I cooked other things and thought about what to do.  With no clear idea, I turned to my ever faithful Google and googled carrots and beets.  Quite a few different recipes came up but the one that stood out was for a salad of sorts from Chocolate & Zucchini.  It required very little prep or ingredients beyond the beets and carrots and sounded really delicious to me, something which never happens with beets.

Grated Carrot & Beet Salad
from Chocolate & Zucchini
serves 6

1 lb carrots
1 lb uncooked beets - the small young ones are best
2 cloves garlic - pressed or finely minced
1 Tbsp hazelnut oil
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp strong Dijon mustard
Tabasco sauce, to taste
Sea Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp lightly toasted sesame seeds

1. Trim peel and grate the carrots & beets, I used my food processor and it went so quickly.  Place the next 7 ingredients, everything except the sesame seeds in a large salad bowl.  Add in the grated carrots and beets and toss until well combined.  Add in the sesame seeds and toss.
2.  Taste and adjust seasoning, let stand for 30 minutes before serving.  If you don't have the time to wait add a dash of lemon or other citrus juice to help render the juices from the carrots and beets.  I also served over a nice salda of mache & radicchio.

NOTE: The ingredients and directions above are how I put the salad together, make sure to check out Chocolate & Zucchini's recipe for a variety of add-ins and different flavor combinations.

I am a huge fan of the salad!  First because with my food processor it's ridiculously easy to assemble, but also because it's got great flavors and is a nice crunchy fresh salad for the winter months.  Something you don't necessarily expect to have with winter veggies, especially root ones that are so often roasted and while delicious, sometimes you just want a nice crunchy salad.  We had it as a side with a few meals last week and I'm planning on putting in a spelt crepe tonight with feta cheese, spinach and maybe some egg for a lovely Meatless Monday dinner.  All that being said it's delicious on it's own and with the addition of some nuts or cheese you'll get all the protein you need for a delicious main.

Is there a vegetable that you don't like but buy anyway hoping you'll use it?  Or am I alone in this one?


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