I must admit, winter is not my favorite season when it comes to fresh vegetables. I miss summer, where all the produce seems to smell and taste so much fresher, and is crying out to picked and eaten as-is. Winter veggies require a little more time and patience. They need to be slow roasted, until they become tender and caramelized, making them much richer in flavor and texture.
And so, roasting becomes my go-to preparation for vegetables in the winter time. It's great for almost anything, squashes, brussel sprouts, and any root vegetable all get even tastier when roasted in the oven. I especially love sweet potatoes and acorn squash. Tossed with a little bit of olive oil and salt and pepper and then cooked in the oven, they are absolutely delicious. But after a while, I'm looking for new ways to roast and not get bored.
Which is why I loved this Warm Winter-Vegetable Salad recipe. The technique is the same, but simply adding in some toasted nuts, a sprinkling of cheese, and a light yet flavorful vinaigrette made it seem like something I had never eaten before.
I loved the crunch factor that the pecans added, and a bite of feta cheese here and there made this dish seem decadent without it really being so. What I think I loved most however, is that I can make this dish over and over with so many different variations that I won't get tired of it quickly. For example, the vegetables can be switched up depending on what's in season, on sale etc. Same goes for the cheese and nuts. I would love to try this with maybe some pine nuts, chevre and basil, or maybe some walnuts and blue cheese.
Look at this recipe simply as a starting point for endless different variations. Don't like brussel sprouts? Substitute in another veggie that's your favorite. What's great about home cooking is that you get to make things that taste good to you. So pick and choose what you like best and make something that knocks your socks off.
Warm Winter Vegetable Salad
Adapted From Food and Wine, March 2010
1 small red onion, cut into 1/2-inch wedges
1 small sweet potato (about 8 ounces), cut into 1-inch pieces
3 carrot, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch pieces
3 red skinned potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch pieces
½ lb brussel sprouts, trimmed and cut in half
1 bunch asparagus, ends trimmed
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup walnuts
1 1/2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 ounce feta, crumbled (1/4 cup)
Preheat the oven to 425°. In a medium roasting pan, toss the onion, sweet potato, carrots, red skinned potatoes, and brussel sprouts with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Season the vegetables with salt and pepper and roast for about 30 minutes, stirring once or twice. Add the asparagus and roast for another 15 minutes more, until all the veggies are tender and lightly browned in spots.
Meanwhile, spread the walnuts in a pie plate and toast until golden, about 6 minutes. Transfer the walnuts to a work surface and coarsely chop.
In a large bowl, whisk the vinegar with the lemon juice, mustard and the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil and fold in the parsley. Season with salt and pepper. Add the vegetables and walnuts to the dressing and toss. Top the salad with the feta and serve warm or at room temperature.
The roasted winter vegetables and dressing can be refrigerated separately overnight. Rewarm the roasted vegetables before serving.