Few cooks appreciate the food they prepare as much as the farmers who are growing the ingredients themselves.
That’s the idea behind Martha Holmberg’s book "Fresh Food Nation: Simple, Seasonal Recipes from America’s Farmers" (The Taunton Press, $22.95), which came out earlier this year. Holmberg reached out to farmers from coast to coast and asked them to submit their favorite dishes.
Max Elliott and Mike Evans, who oversee the three-acre Urban Roots farm in East Austin, shared this recipe for a roasted beet and carrot salad with an herb puree, which can be made with basil and cilantro, as suggested, or any fresh herbs, such as mint or parsley, you might have growing in your own garden.
Roasted Beet and Carrot Salad with Basil-Cilantro Puree
Root vegetables and roasting are a match made in vegetable heaven. The high oven temperature caramelizes the natural sugars in the roots and makes the texture tender on the inside, slightly chewy on the outside. But because root vegetables are naturally high in sugar, take care not to let them burn — check frequently during cooking and stir them around on the baking sheet.
For the Basil-Cilantro Purée:
1 cup lightly packed fresh basil leaves
1 cup lightly packed fresh cilantro
1 or 2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp. kosher salt; more as needed
Freshly ground black pepper
For the vegetables:
4 medium beets, peeled or scrubbed and cut into 1/2-inch dice
1/4 cup olive oil, divided
1 tsp. kosher salt, divided
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper, divided
4 large carrots, peeled or scrubbed and sliced into 1/2-inch rounds
To make the purée, put the basil, cilantro and garlic in a food processor and pulse a few times. With the motor running, pour in the oil and process until you have a nice purée, like a loose pesto. Add the salt and a few twists of pepper, pulse twice to blend, then taste and adjust the seasoning. Transfer to a small bowl, cover and chill.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Toss the beets with half of the olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and spread onto a baking sheet so that there is one even layer of beets. Do the same with the carrots on a separate baking sheet so that you can control cooking time for each vegetable. Roast the vegetables until tender and slightly browned, 15 to 20 minutes, stirring and shaking the pan once or twice as they cook so that they brown evenly. Let cool.
Toss the roasted beets and carrots together and arrange on a serving platter. Drizzle with the Basil-Cilantro Purée. Serve at room temperature or slightly chilled. Serves 4.
— From "Fresh Food Nation: Simple, Seasonal Recipes from America’s Farmers" (The Taunton Press, $22.95) by Martha Holmberg