Why do all love roasted vegetables so much? Perhaps it’s their sweetness, since the browned edges that roasting brings taste darkly sugary on the tongue, tipping the scale from the sometimes strong vegetal flavors of anything from the vine or earth. Roasted is the way I learned to love beets, and for this salad I encourage you to choose the candy-stripe or chioggia beets available at most farmer’s markets. Their lighter colors are wonderful—though red beets, while they color whatever they touch, are delicious, too. This salad is great on a buffet as well as a starter for a dressy, sit-down meal. Think of this delicious dressing as an option for other salads—potato salad perhaps, with smoked mussels or clams, or on shrimp cocktail.
- 2 cups Frontera Corn and Poblano Salsa
- ¼ cup fruity olive oil
- 5 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- Salt, about ¾ teaspoon, plus a little extra for the watercress
- 3 medium (10 ounces total) beets (I prefer golden or candy-strip here, though red are very good), scrubbed, roots trimmed off, each beet cut into 8 wedges
- 3 medium (about 12 ounces total) Yukon gold potatoes, scrubbed, each cut into 6 wedges
- 2 heads (1 pound total) fresh fennel, greens trimmed off, each cut into 8 wedges
- 3 bunches watercress, large stems cut off
- Crumbled queso fresco or salted farmer’s cheese, for garnish (optional)
- Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Combine half of the salsa with the olive oil, and 3 tablespoons of the lime juice. Taste and season with salt (it should be salty to season the vegetables as they roast). In another bowl, combine the beets and potatoes with the 2/3 of the salsa mixture.
- In a large roasting pan, toss the fennel with the remaining salsa mixture, spread into a single layer, cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes, until nearly tender when pierced with a fork.
- Uncover the roasting pan, add the beets and potatoes, spreading them into a single layer as much as possible, then re-cover and return to the oven for 15 minutes. Uncover and continue roasting, turning, stirring and basting all the vegetables every few minutes, until they are tender and browned, about 20 minutes.
- Toss the watercress with the remaining 2 tablespoons of lime juice mixed with a little salt, and divide between 6 salad plates. Arrange the vegetables beside the watercress, spoon a portion of the remaining 1 cup of salsa over and around them. Crumble the optional cheese on top and your salads are ready to serve.