I have a love affair with most veggies, which is why I love being vegan but there are a few shining gems in the pile of plant-based picks that really charm my taste buds. Beets rock my vegan world and if you love beets like me, this dish will knock your vegan socks off! Inspired by a party that I threw for a friend who was leaving for the Congo to do a volunteer project building schools, this dish is like nothing I had tasted before. This is a Congolese dish that I served alongside my Lentil Banana Salad and was a complete crowd pleaser. Grounded in earthy flavors thanks to the beet and carrot combo, my carrot and beet salad had a hint of exoticism thanks to the mint, cumin and paprika in the dressing. This dish sits well and can be made in advance and travels really well for a colorful lunch or a fun picnic. Beets are full of carbs and low on fat so it is a great choice for energy boosting and will fill you up without slowing you down. I pair this salad with Couscous with Caramelized Onions and Raisins and Pecan Crusted Tofu for a complete dinner. If you haven't worked with beets before, be aware of the fact that beet juice can stain so be sure to wear an apron! *
Makes 6-8 servings
About 3 1/2 pounds of beets
4-6 carrots, quartered length ways
3 tablespoons olive oil
For the dressing:
1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 bunch chives, chopped
1 small bunch of mint, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon paprika
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 teaspoon honey (or agave if you prefer to omit honey)
Salt and Pepper to taste
1. Preheat oven to 350°F
2. Roasting veggies usually entails rubbing the veggies with olive oil and tossing in salt and pepper. It is just that simple. So go ahead and wash your beets and if the greens are still there, chop off the greens. You can save them for juicing or you can simply sauté them later for a tasty side dish. Make sure your beets are nice and clean and rid of dirt. Dry well. Lightly rub with olive oil and add a dash of salt and pepper. Roast times for beets will vary depending on the size. Small beets will begin to be tender after 25 minutes, larger ones can take up to an hour. Half way through the roasting time, give them a toss to ensure even roasting. Larger beets will need to be turned over. Your beets are ready when they are fork tender.
3. While the beets roast, in a separate pan, roast carrots the same way. Carrots will take 30 to 45 minutes. Remember to toss halfway and ensure even coating of olive oil so they do not dry out.
4. When veggies are ready, remove from oven and allow to cool.
5. In a small bowl, mix together all the ingredients for the dressing and whisk together to emulsify. Add salt and pepper to taste.
6. When the beets have cooled, removed the skins and cut into bite-sized wedges.
7. In a medium bowl, add the carrots, beets, and dressing. Toss to coat. Place salad in the refrigerator for an hour if you plan to serve cold, or serve immediately of you plan to serve hot. Garnish with a fresh sprig of mint for added color.
* Beets have a beautiful and non-toxic color. Use beet juice instead of red food coloring, blot beet juice on lips and cheeks for all natural color