I credit my momma for my love of vegetables; for some reason I’ve always preferred veggies over meat, and she (and her parents) were abundant in their love and attention to them as well. I learned the sweet pleasure of beets early on, and other root vegetables followed soon thereafter. While beets and parsnips may not seem like warm-weather foods, served at room temperature or chilled with bright herbs and sitting atop crisp, sharp greens, they make a hearty and colorful contrast to summer’s zucchini and cucumber abundance.
This was one of last week’s starter salads on my menu, and one that I stole a teeny tiny bowl of to keep myself fortified after a long day of cooking on my feet. It’s sweet, bright, fresh and the perfect start to an end-of-day meal.
Beet, Parsnip and Mint Salad
Serves 4 as a starter
- 3 large beets, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
- 3 large parsnips, peels and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
- 2 Tbsp chopped mint leaves, plus more for garnishing
- Kosher salt or fleur de sel (or your favorite rockin salt)
- Freshly cracked pepper
- Awesome, nutty olive oil
- 6 cups mixed greens or arugula
- 1/2 cup raw walnuts
- 2 tsp mild honey
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 cup soft goat cheese
Heat oven to 400°. Place beets and parsnips separately on one large or two small baking sheets. Drizzle with oil to just coat, and toss on salt. Bake for 40 minutes until very roasted and slightly shriveled. Cool completely. Combine in a large bowl and toss with mint.
Meanwhile, heat a small saucepan over medium heat. Add walnuts and toast, tossing occasionally, until fragrant, about 5 minutes (watch the stove so they don’t burn!) Add honey and cinnamon, stir to coat quickly. Spread walnuts on cutting board to cool, then roughly chop into smaller pieces.
To serve, divide greens on four serving plates, making a well in the center. Divide beet/parsnips between, piling in the center.
Crumble goat cheese equally around each pile. Sprinkle with walnuts and remaining mint. Grind pepper straight on top. If desired, drizzle balsamic vinegar and a touch of oil around sides onto greens before serving.