Winter doesn’t seem to have plans of leaving us any time soon. Even the South has been experiencing cold temperatures and ice and snow. This frigid weather makes me want to stay in my kitchen and keep cranking out warm and cozy food. Like this roasted root vegetable and farro salad.
The beauty of this salad is that it’s warm, and hearty, and gorgeous, and healthy. And, it’s one of those one bowl wonders that you can just snuggle up with on your couch; bowl in one hand, TV remote in the other. Snow and cold be damned!
The majority of this colorful dish is made in the oven. First you roast the beets, then the white sweet potatoes, carrots, and finally, the red onion. Red, white, orange, and purple. The colors of summer flowers, close your eyes and imagine.
Why did I use white sweet potatoes instead of the typical orange? Because I saw them at Whole Foods and I was intrigued. They’re supposed to be less starchy than the orange ones. I don’t know, they tasted similar to me. But, they do puff up a little more when you roast them, like pretty little pillows of flavor.
While you’re roasting the root vegetables, you can cook the farro – one of my favorite ancient grains. It’s so hearty and satisfying, and I love its nutty texture. It’s really the perfect grain to pair with root vegetables.
The spinach – I know, it’s not a root vegetable, but I thought this needed some green – and garlic add a nice contrast to the larger, sturdier vegetables. If I had my way I’d put spinach in everything. Who am I, Popeye?
Each individual ingredient in this roasted root vegetable and farro salad was chosen for a reason. I wanted to balance the color, the textures, and the flavors. So let’s break this down.
Beets – Sweet and earthy. Jewel toned. Soft, yet firm.
White sweet potato – Savory. Golden and neutral. Crisp on the outside and soft on the inside.
Carrots – Slightly sweet and savory. Bright and vibrant. Firm.
Red onion – Sharp. Purple and translucent. Meaty.
Spinach – Slightly bitter. Emerald green. Soft.
Farro – Nutty and earthy. Neutral. Chewy.
Balsamic reduction – Tart and sweet. Dark and inky. Wet.
As you can see, this dish is sweet, savory, sharp, slightly bitter, nutty, earthy, and tart. The textures are soft, firm, crispy, meaty, chewy, and wet. And the colors are like something you’d find in a jewel box; red, bright, purple, translucent, emerald green, neutral, and dark. You can’t ask for more than this.
Since it’s Monday, and it’s winter, you should make this roasted root vegetable and farro salad for dinner. It feeds four people, or if you’re dining solo, you’ll have enough left over for a beautiful lunch and dinner ready to go for tomorrow.