Meatless Monday: Eats Roots and Leaves Salad With Blueberry Balsamic Vinaigrette

And flowers, and fruits.

Yes, I named the salad we ate tonight as a play on the famous book on punctuation by Lynn Truss, Eats, Shoots & Leaves. It’s because I used the first two carrots and the first beet that Kat pulled out of our garden plot. The carrots as you can see in the photo above, were yellow with purple skins, and the beet–well, it looks like some sort of psychedelic cross between a regular red beet, a golden beet and one of those striped white and red Italian “Chioggia” beets.

Kat not only was very proud of her two big carrots and big beet, she helped eat them, too.

There is nothing better to get a kid to eat their vegetables than to have them intimately involved in the planting, care and harvesting of said vegetables. I’m sure that’s part of why I was an enthusiastic vegetable-muncher as a child–I helped Grandma and Grandpa with every aspect of growing them. I knew how to plant seeds, weed, transplant seedlings, weed, harvest and weed by the time I was three.

I did a lot of weeding. I think it’s because Grandma and Grandpa had more trouble getting down among the weeds than I did by that time. Being three, young and short, made me a very good weeder. I was especially valuable among the strawberry bed and the turnip patch, where quick little eyes and quicker fingers could spot a blade of grass coming up between thickly planted berries and snag it from the ground before an older person even noticed it from way up where their eyes were.

But, I digress, as is often the case.

What about the leaves in this salad? Well, they are a mixture of the last of lettuces, some delicious fresh baby spinach (“Regatta” and “Bordeaux”–the former resists bolting really well and the latter is both delicious and very pretty with its arrowhead shaped emerald green leaves and fuchsia red veins and stems), baby bok choi and purple mizuna. When I say the last of the lettuces, what I mean is the last of the lettuces planted in our raised bed. I have a planter of the lettuces nearly ready to harvest up on our deck as well–they should be ready in about a week or so. The lettuces in our bed, which I planted in April, have finally started going to seed–which means they’ve started to send up flower shoots, and that makes them bitter. When you cut your lettuce leaves or heads right above the soil line and a white, milky juice flows out, you know its gone bitter.

I still have plenty of beautiful lettuces in that bed, but fear not–they shall not be wasted. Morganna is braising a rabbit tonight and tomorrow, she said she’d cut the rest of the lettuces down, and then braise them like the French do in the leftover rabbit stock. What a clever girl I have raised!

As for the flowers and fruit–well, the nasturtiums and violet colored violas were picked out of our garden plot today, and the blueberries came from the Farmer’s Market this weekend.

The dressing is super-simple–a balsamic vinaigrette that uses a locally produced blueberry syrup in place of half of the balsamic vinegar. This gives a fruitier flavor than my usual balsamic dressings, and in the context of this salad, it just tasted like the essence of summer.

Which is what this salad is–the colors, flavors and scents of summer on a plate. Or in a bowl. And it provides most of your full day’s supply of vitamins, minerals, leafy greens, fruits and vegetables.

Eats Roots and Leaves Salad With Blueberry Balsamic Vinaigrette

1 beet of whatever color you like (and if you can get a psychedelic one like ours, all the better)
4 cups of mixed summer salad greens, washed and dried. Use as many colors and textures you can.
2 large sweet carrots of whatever color(s) you can find
1 4 radish, thinly sliced
1/2 cup fresh blueberries, washed and dried
handful of viola blossoms
3-5 nasturtium blossoms–mix and match colors if you can!
1/2 cup cilantro leaves
1/4 cup lovage leaves
1/8 cup balsamic vinegar
1/8 cup real blueberry syrup, or blueberry juice
3/4 cup good extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon honey (or to taste)
1 teaspoon soy sauce (or to taste)


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Wash beet well, scrubbing all dirt from the skin. Trim the beet leaves to 1/4″ and reserve leaves for another recipe. Trim any long root from the other end of the beet. Wrap up loosely in a square of foil and toss the beet directly on the oven rack and bake for 40-50 minutes, or until a fork pierces it easily.

Rinse in cold water to cool beet.

While beet roasts, wash and dry the greens, then peel the carrots and cut them into 1/4 inch thick slices on a slight diagonal. The slices should be oval shaped when you are done.

When beet is cool, peel it, and cut into slices of whatever shape you like. You can also dice the beet. I tend to cut beets in half and then cut each half into slices.

Arrange the salad greens in a chilled bowl, and sprinkle the carrot slices, radish slices, beets and berries evenly over the top of the leaves. Arrange the herb leaves and then the flowers over the top of the salad, and let salad sit in the fridge while you make the vinaigrette.

Put all ingredients to the vinaigrette into a bottle and shake until emulsified. Drizzle as much as you like over the salad, toss and serve immediately.


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  1. What gorgeous colors! I am not fond of beets but this salad is a prize winner of colors & textures.

    Comment by Maureen — June 27, 2011 #

  2. Wow! What a colorful salad! I’d love to grow beets like that! And that dressing sounds fantastic! I’ve been wanting to take a shot at making my own, but I’ve never gotten around to it. I’d love to see some of your other dressing ideas if you get the chance.
    ~Nancy Lewis~

    Comment by Recipe Club — June 28, 2011 #

  3. I have been reading your food blog and have really enjoyed it. As a fellow foodie, I have a blog about my quest for the ultimate hamburger, I wanted to share this link and project that I have been following as I think they have an very interesting idea for a short film that will appeal to foodies.

    A team of documentary short film makers is making a film about the regional foods which are disappearing from our grocery store shelves. Once, the grocery store reflected the foods and culinary heritage of each region of our country. There was a time that Coors beer was not sold east of the Mississippi River, and Moon Pies only existed in the South. Small regional food companies are being bumped from the store shelves, and we are losing these food traditions.

    These are those foods that maybe your grandparents had in their pantry and you refused to eat. Things (and these are real) like mudfish in a jar, sauerkraut juice, and canned snake. They are looking for input on regional foods in your area, like those strange food items on the top shelf that you have no idea how they are used or what to cook with them.

    The film will include calling the makers of these unique foods and learning the history and reason behind why mudfish is available in a jar. Then they will have a big food tasting offering volunteers the chance to taste these items and give their feedback.
    I hope you can suggest possible regional foods or ask your readers. You can learn more about the project on their website

    Comment by Oxford Burger Blog — June 28, 2011 #

  4. Nancy–maybe I’ll write a post with just various vinaigrette ideas on it in the near future–homemade dressing makes salads really sparkle and the dressings taste so much better than bottled.

    OBB–thanks for suggesting the film. I’ll see what I can do to suggest regional foods.

    Comment by Barbara — July 1, 2011 #

  5. My lettuce is starting to go bitter as well, but the U of I extension service (check it out, it’s very useful) notes a neat trick on their website: you can wash and store the lettuce in the fridge for a day or two, and most of the bitterness will go away!

    Comment by Louise — July 8, 2011 #

  6. Thank you for the tip Louise–I’ll try it!

    Comment by Barbara — July 9, 2011 #

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