Thanksgiving is rapidly approaching! I’m beyond excited because I’m meeting my mother and brother for the holiday in London! Fish and chips with malt vinegar and many pub beers are on my holiday menu. But in case your Turkey Day isn’t completely figured out, I’ve got a salad for the table. A simple bed of greens with spicy roasted veggies that toast with the flavorful seeds all at once. Add to that a creamy yogurt dressing and you’ve got yourself a winning salad to accompany the big feast.
The true magic of this dish is the roasted veggies. I’ve used carrots and leeks. Let’s salivate over the secrets of roasting, shall we? Originally shared in this post. Another epic salad I recommend. Oh and don’t forget to check out the allium defenses appreciation post for some fun knowledge about the leeks here!
Roasting is one of the best things in the world and pretty fantastic from a food science point of view. In the oven at a high temperature, the water begins to evaporate and the flavors in the veggies get concentrated as water leaves. As that water escapes, the veggie environment becomes perfect for Maillard browning! The always-delicious pathway that leads to big, nutty flavors. Finally, near the end of the roasting process, the high temperature will cause some caramelization to occur. The larger, complex sugars break down to create sweeter veggies.
The temperature that you get with roasting in the oven is much higher than the temperature of boiling water which is the other preparation method with root vegetables like beets. That higher temperature is what allows complex flavor reactions like Maillard browning and caramelization to occur (this recipe uses 450⁰F for the oven temp—lower oven temps below 400 may not allow caramelization).
The roasted carrots and leeks get even more special here because we roast them with a couple secret ingredients. First up turmeric. It’s deliciously pungent and spicy. Second, we’ve got the seeds. Coriander, sesame, and cumin. They toast in the pan and release their lovely scent slowly. Then, when you’re eating, they become almost floral as they get intense all at once and bring it all together in each bite.
I’ve used a sturdier green here, baby kale, to stand up to the creamier dressing. But a flavorful, peppery green would work as well. This salad is a fabulous salad recipe to keep in your back pocket that could easily be beefed up with chicken and a bit more greens to make an entrée salad. You can also omit the greens altogether and eat the roasted veggies with the yogurt dressing alone. Divine!
I’m going to leave it there, short and sweet, because I’ve got some packing to do! Off to London tomorrow. Very excited to share my adventures with you! Coming sooooon And Happy Thanksgiving!
PS: If you’re looking for any other Thanksgiving menu options, be sure to check out the This Month page for ideas and recipe recommendations!
Turmeric-Roasted Carrots and Leeks with Baby Kale and Yogurt
Note: The veggies can be roasted ahead for an easy assembly right in the moment. You can either heat them up or eat them at room temperature with the salad when using them.
Adapted from Dining In (highly recommend BTW!)
Serves 4 as a side salad
1 pound small carrots, scrubbed, peeled, and tops trimmed
2 leeks, cleaned and cut into quarters, lengthwise
3 tablespoons olive oil
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
2 teaspoons coriander seeds
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
¾ cup Greek yogurt
1 garlic clove, freshly grated
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 cups baby kale or a spicy green such as arugula
- Preheat the oven to 450⁰ F. Line a sheet pan with a piece of parchment paper.
- Toss the carrots and leeks in the olive oil, turmeric, and seeds on the sheet pan. Cut any carrots in half that are larger. Season with salt and pepper. Roast in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally, or until the carrots are evenly browned and tender. Remove from the oven and set aside.
- Combine with yogurt, garlic, and 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper.
- Put the greens in a large bowl along with the remaining lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat. Transfer the dressed greens to the serving platter and dot the yogurt all over. Arrange the roasted veggies on top and scrape up the seeds and flavorful oil from the sheet pan as well.