I know that I go on and on about the Goshen Community Market on this blog. You’d think I never went anywhere else in town. There are, however, other community events in Edwardsville that are favorites of mine—especially St. Andrews Church Used Book Fair. It happens four times a year, has thousands of books at incredible prices and it is the main source (come to think of it nearly the only source) of my ever-growing cookbook collection.
Cookbooks are not cheap, even paperbacks. And I’m a sucker for those splashy hardbacks—oversized, full of color and inspiration. And truly, I could little afford them, if it were not for other people’s boredom with what they are lucky enough to own and the hard work of the volunteers who hold the sale. So I often splurge, buying as many as three or four at a time. There’s always something to read in my house…and a new recipe to try.
One of my favorite finds is Monet’s Table: The Cooking Journals of Claude Monet. It is a gorgeous trip back in time to Monet’s house in Giverny, through his famous gardens, and into his private kitchen. He was quite the cook! Complete with prints of his most recognizable paintings and his own scrumptious recipes, the book is more than a cookbook, more than an art book; it is a journey back to a sunny afternoon in France, with your own place at Monet’s table…in the garden, of course.
Inspired by this favorite book, I decided to do a warm salad of roasted roots, good cheese and red wine vinaigrette. Spring really has some amazing vegetables, and trips to the farmers market widens the choices. Before shopping directly from local farmers, I had no clue what kohlrabi was; I had never met a garlic scape, nor did I realize you can roast radishes and make them creamy and sweet. I’m smarter now.
A while back I posted about some of these roasted delicacies, explaining how roasting caramelized their surface and sweetened up their interiors. I took all this a step further recently, adding in the herbs from my garden—just like Monet! With all the spring showers, the herbs are growing like gangbusters. So why not take advantage? I wanted to create the French Countryside in a bowl. And I did. And you can, too. Follow along this pebbled path beside the waterlily pond to the painted wooden table dappled in sunlight….
- One-half cup red wine vinegar
- Three tablespoons good-quality grainy Dijon mustard
- One tablespoon each, fresh tarragon, fresh chives, fresh thyme, all minced
- One-half teaspoon garlic powder, no salt added
- Big pinch coarse sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- One-half cup olive oil
- Five to six cups root vegetables cut in large chunks such as kohlrabi, garlic scapes (whole), carrots, new potatoes, radishes (whole), and fennel bulb
- A bit extra olive oil and sea salt for roasting
- Parmigiano reggiano, a small wedge, the very best you can afford.
- Preheat the oven to 400 for a convection oven, 450 for a conventional oven.
- Toss the prepared vegetables with olive oil and sea salt. Spread out evenly, with plenty of room between pieces, on a parchment-lined, rimmed baking sheet. Do not crowd or the vegetables will steam, not roast. Depending on your vegetable choices and your oven, the vegetables should take between 40 to 50 minutes. Stir once midway.
- While the vegetables roast, make the dressing by whisking the vinegar, mustard, herbs and seasonings together in a small bowl. Slowly whisk in the olive oil until the dressing emulsifies. Set Aside.
- Once the vegetables are done, remove them from the baking sheet to a big pretty bowl and immediately pour on the dressing. If the dressing has separated a bit, re-whisk first. Then, using a vegetable peeler, shave the Parmigiano reggiano in large strips onto the vegetables.
- Toss all together and allow the dish to set for five minutes—the vegetables will soak up the dressing and the cheese will melt slightly. Perfection.
Note: This recipe is flexible and will accommodate any vegetable that can be roasted—think beyond roots to crucifers, pattypan squash and garlic bulbs. Amounts are estimates—you can roast fewer or more vegetables to suit your gathering, as long as you have enough dressing to drench the bowl. If you really like fennel, consider adding a minced frond to the dressing along with the other herbs.
Thinking About Tomorrow?
While you could have some of these vegetables as leftovers the next day and maybe nestle them in a bed of bitter greens, they will be best served immediately after roasting so that the dressing penetrates and the cheese melts. If you do try leftovers, bring everything to room temperature for a couple of hours first.