Just when I was getting excited about fall in Los Angeles, the weather spikes to 85 degrees! Everyone says that you can’t beat the weather in Southern California, but sometimes, especially during the fall and winter, I miss the chilly nights and snowy mornings I used to enjoy in Boston.
Too hot for a stew, I decided to make another fall salad but this time with various root vegetables and quinoa to make this completely vegetarian. If you need your meat, feel free to add grilled shrimp, chicken, steaks, fish, or any protein of your desire.
**Helpful tips and common mistakes
Beets are one of those root vegetables that are completely underrated. Beets are known to have a strong earthy taste but when prepared in certain ways, the beets have a sweetness that really shines. Beets can be pickled, steamed, grilled, boiled, or eaten raw, but my favorite method is to roast them. Roasting the beets in sherry vinegar allows the root vegetable to absorb the flavor of the vinegar. You can even cook the leafy greens on top or serve them raw with the salad as they are completely edible.
When peeling the beets, simply rub the skin off with a paper towel. The skin should easily come off without resistance. Wear gloves if you want to prevent your hands from turning red.
Carrots are another root vegetable that I believe is underrated. Raw carrots are fresh and crunchy but once cooked, the sweetness really comes through. I’m not a huge fan of cooked carrots unless they are roasted. I purchased baby imperator carrots which are long thin carrots. I like to keep the tips of the stems attached for visual appeal. Cut the carrots in half or on a bias if they are too long. You can also roast purple and yellow carrots to make the salad even more colorful.
Tossing the kale in the basil vinaigrette allows the leaves to soften. Drizzling the vinaigrette last minute instead of massaging it into the kale will yield tough and bitter kale.
Although this salad seems so simple, the contrasting flavors will argue otherwise. The creamy goat cheese complements the sweet roasted carrots and mildly earthy beets while the sunflower seeds add the needed crunch factor. The basil vinaigrette is one of my favorite dressings as it has just the right amount of spice, tart, and sweetness. The quinoa already provides protein for this salad but next time I might add grilled shrimp just to please my meat-loving appetite. Light and delicious all around!
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