I was asked to bring "something green" to a neighbor's dinner party for 10. I was thinking roasted asparagus and red peppers with lemon garlic vinaigrette; but, alas, no decent asparagus could be had in this small town. Plan B was spinach salad, but I wanted something more. Spending time on the internet gave me ideas, but no recipe. The "more" was beets and fresh raspberries, though any fresh berry would work here. And I had to work to create my own recipe.
It seems everyone lately is using the baby beets: gold, yellow and red. I could only find one store with them, and the price was eyebrow raising; so I opted to use regular old plain beets. Beets are a very underused vegetable, one that I've not ignored. I love to grate them raw over a green salad. So the thought of roasting them interested me. Surely the flavor will be enhanced I thought. Not true. They still tasted like plain old beets -- not distasteful, mind you, just not different. So I marinated them in the raspberry vinaigrette for a few hours and it upped the flavors.
This salad was really to die for. The raspberry vinaigrette was so amazing and had a perfect blend of flavors -- just sweet enough to complement the vegetables without overpowering them.
Everyone enjoyed the salad and I had no leftovers to take home. Try this recipe and you won't be disappointed; but remember to come back and leave a comment (just click on the comment link at the end of any post.)
Roasted Beet and Spinach Salad with Raspberry Vinaigrette
10 large fresh mushrooms, wiped with damp cloth and thinly sliced
5-6 thin slices of a largeVidalia onion
8-10 oz. pre-washed baby spinach
1 large or 2 medium red beets, roasted,*
1/2 pint fresh raspberries, rinsed and drained on paper toweling
1/2 cup toasted sliced almonds
*Roasted Red Beets: Scrub beets; trim; place on glass baking dish or pie plate and roast in preheated 400F oven for about 45 minutes - 1 hour, depending on their size. Check them at 45 minutes by piercing with a fork -- if it goes in easily, they are done. Cool beets till they can be handled, about 1/2 hour, then peel and cut into 1/4" matchsticks. Place them in a resealable container and pour about 1/4 cup raspberry vinaigrette over them. Refrigerate several hours.
**Raspberry Vinaigrette: In a medium bowl, whisk together the following --
1-1/2 tsp. fresh minced garlic
1/4 tsp. fresh minced thyme
2 Tbsp. raspberry jam (I used the kind sweetened by fruit juices only.)
1/4 cup crushed fresh raspberries (you can do this in a resealable sandwich bag.)
1 Tbsp. mild honey, such as clover
1/4 cup Raspberry Balsamic Vinegar
1/2 tsp. sea salt
big pinch black pepper
Continue to whisk while slowly drizzling in about 2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil. Whisk until mixture emulsifies. Refrigerate.
In a large mixing bowl, combine mushrooms, onions and spinach and lightly toss to distribute ingredients evenly. Pour about 1/3 cup dressing over the salad and again lightly toss till dressing is evenly distributed. Lightly spoon salad onto a large platter. Place the beet matchsticks(and any remaining juices) on top of the salad, spreading them out. Sprinkle the almonds and raspberries over all. Serves 8-10
NOTE: Turn this into an entree by adding grilled salmon, tuna or chicken. Change it up by subbing arugula or other greens for the spinach; walnuts or pecans for the almonds. Use whatever berries are available.