One thing that I really love about having a vegetable box delivered to my home is that I occasionally get to try out vegetables that I would not normally ever see in my local shops and in fact probably wouldn't ever see other than in photos unless I grew them myself. Lovely vegetables such as beautiful purple carrots, with deep purple skins and brilliantly orange centres . . . and heirloom beetroots, all lovely ruby and white striped . . .
I really don't know alot about heirloom vegetables, except that they go back to days or yore, before hybrids . . . these are the original vegetable varieties before man tampered with them I assume. Feel free to correct me if I am wrong. I just loved their beautiful colours, just like jewels. I decided to roast them, which I felt would enhance their natural sweetness. I added some fresh picked regular carrots from out own garden, which did abysmally horribly bad this year . . . and some red onions. I also added some fresh herbs from my herb garden, which we have finally managed to wrestle back from the slugs!
I had once tasted a salad which I had bought in M & S that I really, really liked . . . a salad composed of roasted butternut squash, red onions and rocket, along with Israeli Couscous and a spicy vinaigrette. It was quite delicious.
I thought the pretty jeweled colours of these lovely heirloom vegetables, and the sweetness which came from roasting them would be quite tasty in a salad. I was not wrong . . . the roasting brought out an incredible amount of flavour . . . lots of sweetness coming from those caramelized edges and curves . . . and the colours . . . well, they just beautiful.
I used Israeli couscous because it is robust and I felt it would stand up to the vegetables in this salad, as I wanted to leave them rather chunky . . . and visible. A smaller couscous would have gotten lost . . .
The dressing was a fabulous lemon and rosemary vinaigrette . . . created by infusing fresh lemon juice with the flavours of garlic and rosemary, and then whisking the infused and strained lemon juice together with some extra virgin olive oil, a bit of sugar to cut the edge of the lemon juice, and then then seasoned simply with some fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Served simply with some grilled marinated poussins, it was a lovely supper . . . much enjoyed by the both of us and something I would definitely repeat. I am sure it would taste just as fabulous with regular carrots and beetroot . . . but why not use the bejeweled ones if you have them.
Why not indeed . . .
*Roasted Roots Salad with a Lemon & Rosemary Vinaigrette*
I got some really pretty purple carrots and heirloom beetroots in a recent veggie box. I wanted to create a salad to show them of at their best. I think this does the trick.
For the vegetables:
4 heirloom beetroots
4 purple carrots
4 small orange carrots
2 red onions
1 TBS of light olive oil
1 sprig rosemary
a couple sprigs of fresh marjoram
a pinch each of coarse sea salt, ground black pepper and crushed sumac
For the salad:
150g of giant Israeli couscous
hot vegetable stock
a small handful of fresh flat leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
For the dressing:
1 clove of garlic, peeled and degermed
2 springs of rosemary, stems removed
1/2 tsp coarse sea salt
the juice of one lemon
75ml of extra virgin olive oil
1 heaped tsp of golden caster sugar
coarsely ground black pepper to taste
Preheat your oven to 200*C/400*f/ gas mark 5. Line a large baking sheet with some heavy duty foil. Peel your beetroots and cut into one inch wedges. Place in a bowl. Don't peel your carrots unless you have to. Cut them into bite size pieces, first cutting them in half lengthwise and then into about 2 inch lengths. Place them into the bowl with the beetroots. Peel your onions and cut into bite size wedges. Add them to the bowl as well. Pull the leaves off the rosemark and the marjoram. Toss them into the bowl along with the seasalt, pepper and sumac. Add the olive oil and toss to coat. (You may need more oil, but don't overdo it.) spread the coated vegetables out onto the baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes in the heated oven. Remove and flip them over and stir them around. Return to the oven and roast for a further 10 minutes. Rrepeat the tossing and stirring. Repeat this several more times, about 4 in all, roasting them for about 40 minutes, until they are knife tender and caramelized in spots.
While the vegetables are roasting cook your Israeli couscous. Bring the vegetable stock to the boil and then drop in the couscous. Boil for 6 to 8 minutes, until tender. Drain well and rinse. Place into a bowl. Add the roasted vegetables and give them all a good stir together. Set aside.
Place the garlic, roasemary leaves and sea salt into the bowl of a pestle and mortar. Bash really well with the pestle until you have a pasty mixture. The rosemary will not break down too much, but that's ok. Add the lemon juice. allow to sit and infuse for about 15 minutes. Strain the mixture into a bowl, discarding the solids. Whisk in the olive oil and sugar. Season to taste with some black pepper. Pour this mixture over the vegetables and couscous. Toss to mix and coat all with the dressing. Stir in the chopped parsley and serve.