Posted by: Part-Time Audiophile | March 2, 2009

Salad of Roasted Beets with a Cranberry Pecan Vinaigrette

I adapted this recipe from one I found in Cooks Illustrated. I say “adapted” b/c I didn’t have a primary ingredient (watercress) and due to my wild rice failing to cook in anything like a reasonable time, I had some extra pilaf “stuff” on hand. I tossed it all in to the bowl, and who knew? It worked. 😉

1 lb beets , peeled, large dice (3/4″ squares)
1 lb carrots , peeled, large dice
3 T extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon sugar
2 T white wine (or sherry) vinegar
1 teaspoon honey (optional)
1 medium shallot , minced (about 3 tablespoons)
~4 oz fresh parsley, washed and trimmed, chopped
1/2 c pecan halves (chopped is fine too)
1/2 c dried cranberries (sweetened or not)
Table salt and ground black pepper


Note: Original recipe calls for watercress, which would probably be way better than parsley. But since I didn’t have any watercress, I used parsley. Worked great. However, if you do have watercress, use it. And double it.

Note: About the dice. You’re going to roast these, so they’re going to shrink. Avoid the temptation (if you have one) to julienne these. While pretty prior to roasting, they look like crap after. Ditto the “small dice” — they’ll shrink to nothing. I would probably go no smaller than 1/2″. If you want to dress it up, cut everything on a bias.

1. Adjust oven rack to lowest position, place large rimmed baking sheet on rack, and heat oven to 500 degrees.

2. Toss beets and carrots with 2 tablespoons oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and sugar in large bowl.

3. Remove baking sheet from oven and, working quickly, carefully transfer beets and carrots to sheet and spread in even layer.

4. Roast until vegetables are tender and well-browned on one side, 20 to 25 minutes (do not stir during roasting).

FWIW, I didn’t have an oven available at this point, so I used a 5qt saute pan (anything with a large enough bottom to spread the veg out in a somewhat even layer will work great), over low heat, partially covered. I let that go, turning once to ensure the veg was browning. Whole thing takes about an hour. Worked fine, but the oven roasting would have been preferable. Either way, you’re “done” when the beets are cooked — that is, they provide no resistance to a knife (kinda like a potato). Crispy on the outside, creamy-ish on the inside, that’s the goal.

5. Meanwhile, whisk remaining 1 tablespoon oil, vinegar, honey, shallots, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper in your now-empty bowl. Note, no matter how hard you whisk this, it isn’t going to emulsify, so don’t sweat it. Maybe you’ll have better luck in a food processor?

6. Put pecans into small saucepan, over med-hi heat. You want to toast them, which is warming them up and putting a VERY little bit of color on them (if any of them turn black, stop!). This’ll get the pecan oil out of the nut (a bit), and make ’em smell awesome. Flip these around while the pan heats up. Do not leave these alone — they’ll burn fast once they hit that requisite temp. When you think they’re about done, toss in the cranberries just to warm them up a bit.

6. When roasted vegetables are finished, toss hot vegetables with vinaigrette. You want to let this cool a bit, then toss in pecans, cranberries, and parsley. Adjust seasoning and serve.

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