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Detoxifying Basil & Roasted Beet Salad with Black Pepper Strawberry Vinaigrette

appetizerbasilbeetsblack pepperdetoxifyingdilldinnersaladstrawberriessummer

Roasted Beet Salad

One of my best friends just moved to London, and before she left, we grabbed a final dinner at ABC Cocina, which is quickly becoming one of my favorite restaurants in Manhattan.  As part of trying not to think about how much I was going to miss her, I stuffed my face, and the roasted beet salad, which I ordered almost as an afterthought (seriously – the waitress was already walking away), was simply a revelation.  The beets were tossed with micro basil, which I’ve never before paired with beets, but hoo-boy, is it a perfect counterpoint (almost perfect enough to distract from my best friend leaving me.  Did I mention my sadness about this yet??).

Roasted Beet SaladRoasted Beet Salad

If you’re one of those people who doesn’t eat beets because they’re too earthy or too grassy, I behoove you to try them roasted.  The sugars caramelize and the inside becomes almost buttery.  They’re sweet and vegetal and incredibly delicious, especially when brought to life by a peppery, strawberry vinaigrette and cut through by the fresh, bright basil.  They’re also incredibly good for you.  Let’s talk about their health benefits for a second, shall we?

Roasted Beet Salad

Beets

While it’s not universally true, in general the stronger the pigment of a fruit or vegetable is, the more health benefits it has.  You can tell by beets’ propensity to stain everything in site that they’re rich in something – in this case, phytonutrients called betalains.  These are rich in antioxidants, anti-inflammatory, and generally immune boosting.  They’ve been shown in studies to lessen the growth of tumors, and they support your body’s own detoxification processes, specifically helping bind with toxins in your cells so you can pee them out (kind of awesome, huh?).

Because I’m not a fancy restaurant owner and because I get my groceries from a combination of a tiny farmer’s market and an even tinier bodega, I didn’t use micro basil (although if you are fancy and you can find it, by all means pull up your golden chair and use it!).  You can simply rough chop normal basil, or, if you worship at the alter of aesthetics like me, you can hunt through for the tiniest of basil leaves and use those.

Roasted Beet Salad

You can use this strawberry black pepper vinaigrette on basically anything – after you make it once, you’ll be hooked.  I used frozen strawberries because every. single. time. I buy strawberries, they go moldy before I can use them.  If you have non-moldy fresh strawberries, use them.  If you don’t, frozen works just as well, and makes this recipe the type you can enjoy long into winter.  You basically cook them in a small saucepan until they release their juices, and then you blend ’em up with heart-healthy olive oil, gut-healing apple cider vinegar, and a veritable crap ton of black pepper.

Roasted Beet SaladRoasted Beet SaladRoasted Beet Salad

In the mood for more basil?  Check out this Thai Pesto Pasta, or this Cherry Basil Chia Fresca, or these White Chocolate Basil Popsicles (ah, I’m drooling – if you make any of these, please send them to me post haste!).

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Detoxifying Basil & Roasted Beet Salad with Black Pepper Strawberry Vinaigrette


Scale

Ingredients

Roasted Beet Salad

  • 45 medium beets
  • Large handful of fresh basil leaves, rough chopped if they’re large and left as is if small
  • 1 tablespoon fresh dill, stems removed and rough chopped

Black Pepper Strawberry Vinaigrette

  • 8 oz frozen strawberries (can sub 1 cup of hulled fresh strawberries, in which case you can skip the heating step and just blend)
  • 1 tablespoon honey (can sub maple syrup, coconut syrup or agave if vegan)
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

Instructions

Roasted Beet Salad

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. You can either peel the beets or simply scrub them well, then trim the ends off and wrap them. I wrap them in parchment paper inside foil (see the image earlier in the post), because I prefer foil not to touch my food, but you can just use foil as well. Place them on a baking sheet and roast for 30 – 45 minutes, or until a fork easily slides in. Unwrap and let cool completely, then chop into small chunks. Toss with vinaigrette and dill and basil, then serve.

Black Pepper Strawberry Vinaigrette

  1. Add strawberries to a small saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally and mashing with a wooden spoon until the juices release (see image in the post). Let cool until warm to touch, then blend with all remaining ingredients until very smooth (if using fresh strawberries, skip the first step and simply blend all ingredients until very smooth).
  2. Salad & vinaigrette keep for 4 – 5 days in the fridge; see notes for best serving strategy.

Notes

The beet salad can be made ahead of time; simply dress it and add the dill, but wait until just before serving to add fresh basil leaves.

 

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