Roasted carrots and a spinach, roasted carrot, and fennel salad

It's the time of the year to start thinking less about casseroles and cookies, and more about vegetables and salads. Roast up some seasoned carrots for a side dish and use the leftovers in a crunchy salad for lunch the next day.

Beyond the Peel
You get three recipes for the price of one in this blog post. Roasted carrots are great as a side, but also work on a salad topped with homemade citrus dressing.

This month I plan to focus on delicious winter salads using some easily accessible winter vegetables that are not only nutritious but delicious. After several weeks of eating rich or sugary foods, or attending one to many parties, most of us are trying to get back on track and eat better.

Salads are a great way of getting more veggies in, but they don’t have to be of the iceberg lettuce variety. They can be exciting, bold and hold up to dressings overnight in the fridge and get packed up easily for lunch the next day.

Today I wanted to share this flavorful side dish that turns into a delicious salad the next day. I love leftovers that don’t look like the way they did the day before. It makes me feel like I get to eat something special and new.

The kitchen notes offers some suggestions on how to make this same dish several ways using different herbs, so you can make it every week without it tasting like the “same old” carrots again.

This recipe serves 2 for dinner, but double accordingly if you have more mouths to feed or you’d like to have the lunch salad tomorrow.

Roasted Carrots

4 carrots

1 medium shallot, sliced approximately a 1/4 cup

1/2 teaspoon fennel seed, crushed

1 tablespoon each olive oil and fresh orange juice

salt and pepper

green onions sliced on the bias or chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish (optional)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Toss all the ingredients in a large bowl and toss until well coated. Place the carrots into a baking dish and bake uncovered for 30 minutes or until tender. If you like, you can broil them for the last 5 minutes of the cooking time to develop the caramelized flavor of the carrots and onions.

Tip: If you are making the salad with leftovers tomorrow, now is a great time to toast 1/2 cup of walnuts or nuts of choice.

Kitchen Notes:

If you’re in a hurry, there’s no reason why these carrots couldn’t be baked at 425 degrees F for less time. The look of this dish can easily be varied by simply changing the way the carrots are sliced.

Substitute fresh dill or tarragon for the fennel seeds or try it with tossing the carrots with a tablespoon of honey (substitute maple syrup or agave for vegans) and 1/4 cup of toasted almonds.

If you’d like a more exotic taste, add a 1/2 teaspoon crushed cumin seeds to the fennel seeds and sprinkle the carrots with 1/2 teaspoon dried chilies and  1/4 cup of raisins before baking. Top with fresh cut cilantro before serving and a side of raita. Add quinoa or millet for a flavorful vegetarian meal (skip the raita for a vegan meal).

Spinach and Roasted Carrot and Fennel Salad
Per person

2 cups of spinach

1 cup of roasted carrots with fennel (recipe above)

toasted walnuts

1 tablespoon goat cheese (optional)

citrus dressing (below)

salt and pepper to taste

Top the spinach with the carrots. Add the walnuts, goat cheese and dressing. If you'd like to make this ahead of time to bring for lunch tomorrow, add the dressing right before serving to assure the spinach doesn’t wilt. If you like you can even serve this with orange segments.

Citrus Dressing

1 tablespoon fresh orange juice

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

Whisk the ingredients together and season with salt and pepper.

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