Sunday, July 13, 2008


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
Raspberry Vinaigrette**
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.


Katrina said...

Your pictures look good to me. It probably is the camera though. I have finally learned to take pictures of the food, but used to wait for my husband to be home and have him do it. When I show him some amazing photos, like at Bake or Break, or Closet Cooking, he says it's all about the camera and that they must have really good, nice, expensive ones. (which he longs for) Ours is a FujiFilm S5000 (whatever that means)
Your salad looks amazing! I love fruit with a salad (my husband doesn't think fruit should be on a salad. I even have some beets right now, and I think I'll make this with dinner tonight. (Minus the raspberries--kinda bummed, because I had some and just finished eating them with my lunch. But yum! Thanks for the recipe.

Katrina said...

My husband also said besides using a good camera that it's all about the lighting. I do get better pictures with the lights on and near a window.
I made your yummy vinaigrette and am posting about it on my blog. It was GREAT. Had it for dinner last night and more salad for lunch today. Thanks!

Judy said...

Katrina, Thanks so much for the tips on photo taking. I have a lot to learn, so I need all the help I can get. Glad you liked the vinaigrette!

Anonymous said...

"Your pictures look good to me. It probably is the camera though."

I'm a photographer and that comment is akin to saying to a chef: " Hey your food tasted good to me, it probably is the oven though."

Do you think it would be taken as a compliment?

Someone who knows how to frame, compose and light a shot can overcome the limitations of a camera and someone (many people, actually) with a great camera can take awful shots despite its price tag. That's because of the widespread belief that you indicated in your post.

Judy said...

Anonymous - You are right, of course. I had asked Katrina what kind of camera she used because her photos are so much better than mine. I am the world's worst when it comes to photos, always have been. She was just sharing her experiences.