Monday, March 2, 2009

Roasted Veggie Salad with Baked Cheese

In an effort to eat more sustainably, I've been shopping at the farmers market on a more regular basis. In fact, the bulk of my produce comes from the Mar Vista farmers market. I know a lot of people (my former self included) think farmers markets are too expensive and will end up costing them more than shopping at the supermarket. And depending on the supermarket they are referring to, they might be right. But the quality of the produce you get is so much higher, and its impact on the planet is so much lower. Not to mention you're supporting local farmers, and you actually get to interact with the people who grow your food. In my opinion, it's definitely worth it.

All of the produce featured in this meal came from my local farmers market. Spring has hit early this year, friends, and there is a wealth of amazing produce available right now. I owe my mother an apology, as she said she had bought wonderful asparagus recently and I pointed out that it's not in season yet. Well, lo and behold, our local farmers had gorgeous asparagus on Sunday, and I bought some. (Sorry, Mum.) I guess Puxatawney Phil didn't see his shadow...or whatever the one is that means spring is going to start.

This salad is simple, and showcases the natural flavor of the vegetables that develops when they are roasted. All the more reason to buy excellent quality produce at your local farmers market.

For the cheese, I used Gruyere. The original recipe called for goat cheese, which would be lovely as well. Just make sure you use a boldly flavored cheese to jazz up the salad a bit.

Roasted Veggie Salad with Baked Cheese
adapted from Everyday with Rachael Ray
serves 2


1/2 small head of cauliflower, florets cut into bite sized pieces
1 bunch slender asparagus, trimmed
2 large carrots, peeled
2 tablespoons EVOO
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup almonds, finely ground
about 4 ounces (give or take) of flavorful cheese, cut into reasonably sized chunks or rounds
1 orange, peel and pith discarded, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds
1 tablespoon quality balsamic vinegar


1. Preheat toaster oven (or oven) to 450. Place cauliflower, carrots, and asparagus on a foil-lined baking sheet. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon EVOO and season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat fairly evenly. Roast for 10 minutes, until asparagus is cooked and all veggies are starting to brown. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

2. Place ground almonds in a shallow bowl. Pour 1 tablespoon EVOO onto a plate. Coat each piece of cheese with EVOO (reserving whatever oil is left) and then the ground almonds, covering the cheese completely. Bake on a foil-lined baking sheet in the still-hot oven for 3-4 minutes. If cheese starts to melt, remove it as soon as it is warmed.

3. Divide roasted vegetables and orange rounds between two plates. Drizzle each plate with the reserved oil and 1/2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar. Top with the baked cheese pieces.

This is an elegant dish that even veggie skeptics should enjoy. And it is surprisingly filling.


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