Salads. Let’s be honest, most of us avoid them at all costs. It’s hard to imagine a salad as comfort food, and without bacon, can feel like a throw away at the dinner table. Most salads tend to have the same old ingredients of Romaine lettuce (let’s not even get started on iceberg lettuce), tomatoes and maybe some onions.
Yet, despite this, salads may be one of the most underrated dishes on our tables. With the right ingredients and proper treatment of those ingredients, the boring salad may just become the star of the show, or at least a great supporting role for an entree.
One overlooked trick to salads is roasting the vegetables ahead of time. Here, we are sharing two salads that are great for any occasion. First up, an arugula and fennel salad that can complement great seafood. We served this with our Lobster Boil to great success.
The second salad features roasted beets and watermelon radishes. The roasting of these vegetables provides a depth of flavor that is lacking in their raw or pickled forms, providing for a sweet, earthy taste that can ground any salad. For this salad, we used a simple lemon vinaigrette.
Roasted Fennel & Arugula Salad
- 1 large fennel bulb
- Olive oil
- 3 cups arugula
- 1 large tomato, chopped
- 2 tbsp crumbled goat cheese (optional)
- Shallot vinaigrette (recipe follows)
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. While the oven is preheating, cut off the top of the fennel bulb and remove any tough outer layers (you can reserve the tops and use them to make an amazing stock).
- Slice the fennel in half, lengthwise and then slice half moons out of the two fennel halves.
- Place on a baking sheet and toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper.
- Place in the oven for 55-60 minutes, or until fennel is tender with no resistance and fragrant.
- Take the roasted fennel out of the oven and allow to cool. These steps can be done a day or two ahead of time.
- In a large bowl, add the arugula, tomato, roasted fennel and goat cheese. Toss together gently to incorporate well.
- Take the dressing and with a spoon, pour some along the edge of the bowl all the way around. This will allow the dressing to also seep into the bottom to lead to a better dressed salad. Add another teaspoon or two over the center of the salad.
- Toss gently to dress the salad. Serve immediately.
- One small shallot, diced
- 2 tbsp vinegar of your choice (we used a citrus champagne vinegar)
- 6 tbsp olive oil
- Place the shallots and vinegar in a small bowl with a pinch of salt and pepper.
- While whisking, slowly drizzle in the olive oil to emulsify the mixture.
- Dress your salad or save for later in the fridge.
Beet & Watermelon Radish Salad
- 3 medium beets
- 1 large watermelon radish, sliced into half-moons.
- 3 cups arugula
- ¼ cup parsley, chopped
- Lemon vinaigrette
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Meanwhile, place the beats onto a foil packet and lightly coat with olive oil. Close the packet up tightly. On a sheet tray, place the watermelon radish slices and coat with olive oil, salt, and pepper.
- Place both the beets and radishes into the oven (they can be on the same sheet tray), and roast for 55-60 minutes. Cook until the beets and radishes have no resistance when tested with a knife. The radishes may be done after 45 minutes depending on how large the slices are and varying oven temperatures.
- Once cooked, take out of the oven and allow the vegetables to cool. Once the beets are cool to the touch, peel them. The outer layer should come out easily now. Once peeled, slice the beets into half-moons. Steps 1 through 3 may be done a day or two ahead of time.
- In a large bowl, combine the beets, radishes, arugula and parsley. Toss gently. Add the lemon vinaigrette and toss gently again until well incorporated. Serve immediately.