Roasted Root Vegetable Salad with Balsamic-Date Dressing

Sometimes I’m pretty certain I look like a freak show — this morning I was 1,000% certain.

Let me fill you in: I got up at the crack of dawn to take the first flight out of DC and I was a a groggy hot mess (though I was actually cold in temperature, to be honest). It didn’t help that I got back from last night’s book event at 1AM or that I had to be at Dulles airport at 7AM. So, I stumbled into the shower, turned the hot water waaay too hot, and tried to steam myself awake. Which I found doesn’t work but rather makes my skin lobster red and my hair a big Dandelion-esque poof ball.

Anyway, I got to Dulles and felt like that cartoon cat or whatever it is who is props his eyelids open with toothpicks. (Anyone know what I’m talking about?) I could barely speak because my throat swelled up and my voice has all but quit on me. And despite downing a 20-ounce black coffee, I was still nodding off.

Then I scrolled through Spotify and I found it:  that song that instantly energized me. I’m kind of ashamed to admit what it is because it’s such a clubby song that I feel like I should still be in my 20s, should be in some MTV Beach House somewhere (do they even still do those things?), or at some foam-filled party. It’s Feel So Close by Calvin Harris and was playing over and over at my brother’s birthday party a few months ago – which was a debaucherous Sunday club thing that really did have foam and confetti (please see Instagram for visual confirmation). No matter how or why, this song has become my unofficial book tour anthem.

Roasted Root Vegetable Salad Recipe with Balsamic-Date Dressing

So, I was waiting on the jetway to board the flight, making like a human closet with all the layers of sweaters, scarves, and coat that I couldn’t fit in my luggage, sporting frizzed-out hair from that too early shower, and I started rocking out. I mean, I forgot where I was and, launched into a full-on 30-second dance party. No, not the kind you visualize as a sort-of internal dialogue, but an actual dance party wherein I was grooving on the jetway.

Luckily, all those people who looked at me like I have three heads, well, I don’t need to see them again. (Aside from the 5+ hour flight I’m currently on with all of them.) Luckily, I’m headed home where I can dance in my socks, sing at the top of my lungs, and listen to the clubiest music I please. I’ll only be home for a hot millisecond because tomorrow I head west for the Hawaii leg of the book tour, but tonight I can do as I please. And after lots of meals on the road, I want to play music, watch B-rated TV, snack too much and then try to make up for it with an easy, seasonal salad. So this roasted root vegetable salad with salty feta and sweet-tangy balsamic-date dressing is on the wish list. Though with all the laundry, bills, and dance parties I’ll have to tend to, I may not get around to it. In which case I might add it to the Thanksgiving spread.

Roasted Root Vegetable Salad with Balsamic-Date Dressing

Roasted Root Vegetable Salad with Balsamic-Date Dressing

  • Makes: 6 to 8 servings // About 1 1/2 cups dressing
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Hands-On Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • For the dressing:
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 8 large dates, pitted and coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • For the salad:
  • 3 tablespoons canola, grapeseed, or peanut oil, divided
  • 1 1/4 pounds carrots, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 pound parsnips, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
  • 12 ounces turnips, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 handful fresh thyme sprigs
  • 2 white onions, cut into 2-inch wedges
  • Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • 6 ounces baby spinach and/or mixed spicy greens
  • 3 ounces feta cheese, crumbled

Instructions

  • For the dressing:

Combine all ingredients in a blender and process until very smooth. Season to taste and set aside until ready to use.

      • For the salad:

Heat the oven to 400°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Meanwhile, divide the carrots, parsnips, and turnips between two rimmed baking sheets. Toss the vegetables in each pan with 1 tablespoon of the oil and half of the thyme. Arrange the onion wedges on the baking sheets, keeping them intact. Brush the onion wedges all over with the remaining 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil then season all the vegetables with salt and pepper.

Roast the vegetables until they’re knife tender and golden brown, about 45 minutes. Remove vegetables from the oven and let them cool slightly. To serve, divide greens among serving plates, top with roasted vegetables and cheese, drizzle each salad with dressing and pass more on the side.

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