Here in Florida, our winters are worth a laugh, but for those of us who are born and raised in the Sunshine State, the cold weather is right around the corner.
Most people think of soups and stews for the winter, but we often forget about our colorful friends from the Earth, those who have deep roots, with lots of nutrients and give us that extra glow during the dessert season -- yes I'm speaking of veggies.
Just because its cool outside doesn't mean we have to feel weighted down, instead of a bowl of chili, how about a nice warm salad. Growing up, beets and carrots were two of my favorite things, and I remember them showing up around Christmas, the aroma of rosemary and garlic filled the house, those beautiful root vegetables have many cousins that love to be embraced by warm leaves of spinach or wilted peppery aromas of arugula.
In culinary school, I took a special liking to making vinaigrettes, so much so that I started selling jars of them while in school, so I have paired a bountiful warm root vegetable salad with one of my tasty condiments, a roasted almond vinaigrette that will surely warm your tummy and make you feel bright and cheery for the holidays.
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ROASTED ROOT VEGETABLES, SWEET POTATO AND BARLEY WITH WILTED ARUGULA
¾ cup pearl barley
Kosher salt and pepper
½ lb medium sweet potatoes (about 1), cut into large dice
¼ lb parsnips (about 2)
¼ lb beets (about 2)
4 ½ Tbsp olive oil
1 small red onion, very thin sliced
¼ cup apple cidar vinegar
¼ cup toasted sliced almonds (chopped fine)
6 cups arugula
½ cup fresh mint, roughly chopped.
Crumbled feta for serving
Heat oven to 450 degrees. In a saucepan, combine the barley, 2½ cups of water and ½ tsp salt and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until barley is tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Drain off any remaining water in the pan and spread barley on baking sheet to cool.
Meanwhile, on a second baking sheet, toss the sweet potatoes, parsnips, and beets with 3 Tbsp of oil, ½ tsp cumin and ½ tsp of salt and pepper. Roast until golden brown and tender, 15 to 18 minutes.
In a large bowl, whisk together the vinegar, remaining oil, ¼ tsp salt, and almonds
Add the barley to the bowl and toss. Gently fold in the roasted vegetables (including the arugula) and mint. Serve while warm and garnish with a little feta.
Jamie Gregorich, Manatee County schools culinary instructor and department chair, can be contacted at email@example.com.