Best Salad…. Evah!

Best Salad…. Evah!

Mom always told you to eat your veggies…once you roast them, you’ll see how right she was!

To prove it, I open with a photo of a nutritious rainbow on a cookie sheet. This dish is fun to work on with the grandkids, or as a solo project sometime when you want to make an extra healthy dinner. The recipe I’m about to share stands behind what I say on the Nana Network ALL THE TIME: “Eat a rainbow!” This is one of the best ways to do just that. The secret to perfectly roasted veggies, is to pre-cook them before you roast them. I use a microwave oven to do this, but placing the veggies into your steamer, or into boiling water and then an ice bath will work just as well. Cooking first guarantees that your roasted veggies will have a crunchy outside and a tender inside; the perfect bite!

Your veggies can grace any variety of lettuce or spinach you have on hand. There are so many robust winter varieties of lettuce, and Good Housekeeping has an excellent photo gallery of lettuces for the next prime pick at your local market.

But rainbows aside, I’ve always maintained that the real magic happens when it’s time to make the dressing. This recipe will leave you with extra dressing for salads throughout the week. I use Meyer lemons for an uber citrussy taste in this dish. These are becoming more readily available in your grocery store. They are slightly sweeter than regular lemons and add that little bit of tang needed to balance the heartiness of the veggies.

Use your favorite veggies to create a salad that your whole family will love – like I did here.

Roasted Veggie Winter Salad
With Meyer Lemon -Basil Vinaigrette
Serves a crowd
45 Minute Cuisine

For Roasted Vegetables:
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons Dijon style mustard
2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated, about ½ cup
3 whole beets, tops removed
1 bunch carrots, tops removed, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
12 new potatoes, cut into fourths
12 Brussels sprouts, cut in half
1 small butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes, about 3 cups
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon coarse black pepper

For salad:
1 large shallot, peeled and minced, about 2 tablespoons
1 tablespoon Dijon style mustard
Juice of 1 Meyer lemon, about ¼ cup
¼ cup white balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
½ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped, fresh basil
Six cups lettuce or spinach
2 ounces Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled, about ½ cup

Preheat the oven to 400°. Wrap the beets in aluminum foil and place into the oven. Roast the beets until soft, about 45 minutes. Drizzle 2 tablespoons olive oil into a large baking sheet with rim. Smear the mustard into the bottom of the baking sheet. Add the Parmesan cheese to the baking dish. Place the carrots into a microwave safe bowl. Add two tablespoons water. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Microwave on high for 4 minutes. Drain the carrots and place into the baking sheet. Repeat with the potatoes, Brussels sprouts and butternut squash. Use your hands to coat the vegies with the seasonings in the bottom of the baking sheet. Season with some of the salt and pepper. Roast until the vegetables are just beginning to turn golden, about 20 minutes. You can use a spatula to flip the veggies about halfway through cooking, if you like, but it’s not necessary. Remove the beets from the oven and cool. Peel the beets and cut into 1-inch pieces.

Place the shallots into a small bowl. Add the Dijon mustard, lemon juice, balsamic vinegar and honey. Drizzle in the oil, whisking to combine. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Whisk in the basil.

Lay the lettuce into a shallow bowl. Pour just enough vinaigrette over the leaves to just moisten them (don’t drown your lettuce!) Place the roasted veggies on top of the lettuce. Sprinkle the Gorgonzola cheese over top. Drizzle a little more vinaigrette over the top.

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