Inspired by the moans heard all the way from Scotland's Traveler's Lunchbox, my Dad and I set out on a glorious fall day in search of banh mi and found, well, St. Louis' very own Banh Mi. We soon understood for ourselves the simple pleasure of one of many incarnations of this Vietnamese sandwich along with a lemon grass noodle soup.
But when the few tables around us cleared, more fascinating still was the connection that formed between my Dad and the Vietnam-born owner, only ten years apart in age yet veterans of wars separated by three decades. In the quiet empty room, the two spoke the language of old soldiers, hampered by hearing loss and thick accent but built on respect for honor, duty and human communion.
Home, I moved to the kitchen inspired by the lovely root vegetables at Soulard Market and by the mind picture of StephenCooks' marinated root vegetable salad. For reasons of timing and inclination, my own salad veered considerably from Stephen's; still, they remain much the same in spirit, simple celebrations of fall root vegetables.
Call it a lovely day, a lovely supper.
- Try to dice the vegetables about the same size; at about about 1/3 inch square, these cooked evenly, none too dark nor too raw.
- This was a filling main dish salad but with a smaller portion, could also be a warm side salad. In my book, it definitely qualifies as "company food".
- I added pancetta but without it, this would make a great vegetarian (vegan, even) dish that most will enjoy.
- I thought about sprinkling with toasted pecans for crunch, maybe cheese for contrast. The feta on hand somehow seemed too 'summery'; a gorgonzola would have been perfect.
FROM THE ARCHIVES Did you know? There are so many ways to roast vegetables.
WARM ROOT SALAD in HORSERADISH VINAIGRETTE
Hands-on time: 35 minutes
Time to table: 90 minutes
Serves 4 as main dish, 8 as side dish
This is a "concept" recipe ~ it begs for your own changes and inspiration. Allow about 2 cups unroasted vegetables per serving for a main dish, about 1 cup per serving as a side dish.
2 medium purple-topped turnips, ends trimmed, peeled with a carrot peeler, cut cross-wise about 1/3" thick, then diced
2 kohlrabi, ends and knobs strimmed, peeled with a paring knife, cut cross-wise about 1/3" thick, then diced
1 sweet potato, peeled with a carrot peeler, cut cross-wise about 1/3 " thick, then diced
2 small potatoes, skins on, cut cross-wise about 1/3" thick, then diced
1/2 celeriac, peeled with a paring knife, cut cross-wise about 1/3" thick, then diced
3 parsnips, ends trimmed, peeled with a paring knife, quartered lengthwise, woody cores removed and discarded, then diced
3 carrots, ends trimmed, thick ends halved or quartered with carrot left intact, then cut cross-wise
[red onion would have been good]
1 ounce pancetta, diced small
About 2 tablespoons good olive oil
Salt & pepper
Preheat oven to 400F. Prep vegetables. Toss in a bowl with olive oil. Place in a single layer on two baking sheets, season generously with salt and pepper. Roast for 60 minutes, stirring well after 30 minutes, stirring well and adding pancetta after 45 minutes.
About 4 tablespoons olive oil
About 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar (next time I'd use 6 - 8 tablespoons for considerably more contrast to the creamy-oily vegetables)
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons horseradish (to taste, this was a mild home-grown horseradish from my Dad's friend's garden; if you like horseradish, use more than you think is needed just tasting the vinaigrette for any bright spark will be moderated by the rooty starchy vegetables)
Salt & pepper to taste
Whisk together vinaigrette ingredients in a large bowl. Fold in the roasted vegetables, taste and adjust seasonings. Serve over lettuce greens (no need to dress the greens, the horseradish vinaigrette will be enough) with good bread and butter.
Four Main Dish Servings, Per Serving: 333 Cal (57% from Fat, 7% from Protein, 36% from Carb); 6 g Protein; 22 g Tot Fat; 3 g Sat Fat; 31 g Carb; 7 g Fiber; NetCarb24; 86 mg Calcium; 2 mg Iron; 356 mg Sodium; 1 mg Cholesterol; Weight Watchers 7 points
Eight Side Dish Servings, Per Serving: 166 Cal (57% from Fat, 7% from Protein, 36% from Carb); 3 g Protein; 11 g Tot Fat; 2 g Sat Fat; 16 g Carb; 4 g Fiber; NetCarb 12; 43 mg Calcium; 1 mg Iron; 178 mg Sodium; 1 mg Cholesterol; Weight Watchers 3 points