One thing I love about winter produce is that much of it readily lends itself to advance meal prep. Instead of delicate herbs and greens that bruise if handled too much or too soon, winter produce is generally heartier and perfectly content with being chopped up or roasted days in advance of being eaten. This (at least for me) makes it infinitely easier to plan and prep the week's meals in advance because I can set aside a few hours on Sunday afternoon or even Monday morning and chop, roast, and prep away, and suddenly that week's meals are done, save for perhaps some reheating or tossing things together.
Beets are a perfect example. Roast a few on Sunday afternoon, and they're ready to toss into salads, puree into hummus, or just snack on if that's your jam. They're packed with all kinds of amazing nutrients like folate, manganese, potassium, iron, vitamins A and C, and fiber, and they add an earthy sweetness to any dish. I love playing off that sweetness by using roasted beets in salads with a tangy dressing, like the one below. The sweet and tart combination just works for me, and I also love the little bit of a kick you get at the end from the cayenne in my Ras el Hanout spice blend.
Check it out for yourself, and let me know what you think!
Roasted Beet and Carrot Salad with Ras el Hanout Dressing
Makes 8 servings
4 medium size red beets
4 large orange carrots
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon Ras el Hanout
2 large garlic cloves
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Carrot tops, for serving (Optional, but the color pop is fantastic. Fresh minced parsley works great as well if your carrots don't have greens.)
Lightly roasted walnuts, for serving (optional but great for adding a little texture)
Preheat oven to 400 F and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Scrub the beets and cut off the root end. Wrap each beet in a small rectangle of aluminum foil and place on the prepared baking sheet. Roast, turning occasionally, until the beets feel soft when squeezed, about 40-45 minutes.
When you put the beets in the oven, peel and cut off the ends of the carrots. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil and a pinch of kosher salt and toss to coat. Add carrots to the baking sheet when the beets have another 25 minutes or so to roast. Turn the carrots halfway through their 25 minutes of roasting time.
While the vegetables are roasting, blend together the Ras el Hanout, garlic, vinegar, and mustard in a blender or food processor. With the blender/processor running, add the 1/2 cup olive oil in a slow stream and blend until smooth. Season to taste with salt.
Remove beets and carrots from the oven and allow to cool enough to handle. Remove aluminum foil from beets and, using a paper towel, rub the skins off the beets so that they are nice and shiny. Cut the beets into small wedges or bite-sized pieces and set aside. Cut the carrots into similar sized pieces.
Arrange beets and carrots on a serving platter or individual plates and drizzle with dressing. Sprinkle with minced carrot greens, if desired.
Make ahead: This salad is equally delicious whether it's warm, room temperature, or cold. If you decide to make it ahead, store the roasted beets and carrots separately so that the carrots maintain their orange color.