Beet and Carrot Salad with Fennel Pollen

This may be the best beet salad I've made! Fennel pollen adds a licoricey note, with an interesting little bit of umami. I also threw in some celery leaves and fennel fronds because I had them around; celery leaves add great flavor without having to commit to the texture of actual celery stalks.

One of Bon Appetit's predictions for this year's food trends is salads without the greens, consisting of all kinds of shaved vegetables. That's particularly timely because the recent cold snap in California and here in New Mexico has wiped out a lot of the winter greens crop, making the prices for what greens did survive sky-high. Our CSA, Skarsgard Farms, just happened to bet on root crops this year instead of greens, which I guess is fortunate. So let's make the most of the root vegetables we have!

3/4 lb beets
3/4 lb carrots
1/3 cup olive oil
2 Tbs sherry vinegar
1 tsp honey
1 tsp Dijon mustard
Small pinch fennel pollen (a little goes a long way)
2 Tbs chopped celery leaves, fennel fronds, or parsley

Using a mandoline, slice beets and carrots as thinly as possible. Heat a large pot with a steamer and a little water, toss in the pile of veggies, and steam until just tender. People say if you slice beets thin enough, you don't have to cook them, but I like to cook them lightly to take off that slight astringent edge.

Whisk oil, vinegar, honey and Dijon together in a medium bowl. Add vegetables and toss thoroughly. It's great either warm or cold, but it's good to let it marinate a little bit. Sprinkle in the fennel pollen and herbs, and toss some more. Serves 6 or more as a side.


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