:: We all have our little routines, those habitual practices we take comfort from in the fast-moving, ever-changing progression of life.
One of my favourite rituals is the early Saturday morning visit to my local farmers’ market, especially during the winter months.
Waking up with the dawn and the enthusiasm that only the weekend can bring, I’ll don boots and jacket against the chill morning air and set off, canvas shopping bags and chai latté from my local coffee nook in hand.
The green grass still sparkles with dew and the warming scents of brewing coffee and sizzling bacon-and-egg rolls waft over the small collection of market stalls.
Even at that early hour, the place is bustling with rugged up locals wending their way to their favoured vendors, canine companions greeting each other with cheerful barks and small children munching contentedly on various sweet treats from the patisserie.
I collect my weekly assortment of fruit and vegetables and then browse the tempting section of crusty bread loaves, homemade pies and quiches, golden bottles of freshly pressed olive oil and specialty stalls of potted herbs, chilli plants and heirloom tomatoes.
Finally, I’ll complete my little ritual by stopping in at the flower merchants to buy a long-stemmed bunch of beautiful, snowy calla lillies.
This vibrant dish uses the beautiful purple heirloom carrots, golden and candy-stripe beetroots I buy in winter from one of my favourite farm’s harvests.
It’s a quintessential winter salad, full of earthy, sweet roasted root vegetables, toasted walnuts and a punchy dressing of capers, raisins, herbs and warm undertones of chilli.
I could spend a few more paragraphs signing the praises of this symphony of flavours but all I’m going to say is, make this as soon as you can – you’ll thank me!
Adapted from Matt Wilkinson‘s heirloom vegetable recipe
1 bunch heirloom carrots, scrubbed 1 bunch heirloom beetroots, scrubbed and trimmed 1 bunch baby parsnips, scrubbed ¼ cup olive oil 1 tbsp honey ½ cup mint, roughly chopped ½ cup flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped ¼ cup walnuts, lightly toasted 50g Persian feta
dressing 1 tbsp capers, drained 1 tbsp raisins, soaked in warm water for 10 minutes & chopped 1 small clove garlic, finely sliced 5 basil leaves, roughly sliced 1 long red chilli, seeds removed & finely chopped ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar 2 tbsp lemon juice
Preheat your oven to 190°C.
Halve the carrots and parsnips, and quarter or divide the beetroots so that all vegetables are similar dimensions to ensure an even cooking time.
Toss the vegetables with two tablespoons of olive oil, season with sea salt and place on lined baking trays.
I separate the beetroots from the rest as sometimes they need extra cooking time and it also prevents them from staining the other vegetables.
Roast everything for 20 minutes or until just tender. Remove from the oven and transfer all vegetables to a bowl.
Toss with the honey and chopped herbs, then cool to room temperature.
Meanwhile, for the dressing, pound capers, raisins, garlic, basil and chilli to a coarse paste with a mortar and pestle. Stir in the oil, vinegar and lemon juice, and season to taste.
Add half the dressing to the cooled vegetables and toss gently to coat.
Divide among serving bowls, drizzle over the remaining dressing and top with toasted walnuts and crumbled feta.