Root Vegetable Salad with Maple Cinnamon Vinaigrette

by Gena on October 2, 2009

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Ah, autumn.

Season of cider and squash. Of pumpkins and pies. Of nubby sweaters and boots and wool jackets. Of chilly mornings on country porches, sipping hot coffee tea. Of jack o’ lanterns and roast turkeys root veggies.

In spite of the fact that I’m a warm weather girl, fall is my favorite season. I love the clothes (cozy sweaters, vintage boots, corderoys) the seasonal produce (root veggies, brussels sprouts, broccoli, and greens galore), the movies (have I mentioned that I’m a horror movie fanatic? Yeah. Thank god for Halloween), the return of concerts and opera and dance to a culture-parched New York City. I even like the early sundown; for homebodies like me, this simply means all the more reason to curl up with a good book.

Right up at the top of list of reasons to love fall is the appearance of root vegetables at the farmer’s market. Yes, my friends, it’s the little things. Give me a pile of carrots, parsnips (a very underrated veggie, in my opinion), yams, squash and turnips, and I’m gleeful. I eat these vegetables both raw and cooked; I prefer most winter squash baked or steamed, but I sometimes forgo cooking and slice them into salads or slaws. Carrots, beets, and parsnips usually get the raw treatment, whether blended into raw soups, tossed into salads, or simply sliced and marinated.

Since you guys have seen plenty of cooked root veggies on the blog already, I figured this was a good time for me to share a raw root vegetable recipe with you. And this one happens to be just about my favorite. It’s a medley of my beloved root veggies, dressed in a sweet, cinnamony vinaigrette. Best of all, it features a vegetable that I seldom eat, but should eat more often: the sunchoke.

What are sunchokes? Also known as Jerusalem artichokes, these guys are actually related to the sunflower family, and thus to artichokes—whose taste they mimic pretty closely. Cooked, their flesh is sort of a potato-like consistency. Raw, they have a slightly sweet, slightly nutty flavor, which I personally don’t find appealing in large quantities, but do enjoy when they’re shaved into salads. So I eat these guys raw and cooked, and I try to pick them up whenever I see them. They’re a great source of potassium and iron, and—note to my soup loving chefs—their creamy flesh makes them great for thickening and lending richness to blended soups in place of dairy (in season one of Top Chef, Harold Dieterle impressed a room full of classically trained chefs when he thickened a sauce with sunchokes in place of cream).

In this salad, sunchokes come together with parsnips, carrots (I used two carrot varieties, orange and red—the latter is more mild-tasting), sweet potatoes, and dried cranberries. Beets would make a great addition, too! You could also shred in some butternut squash, or even some non root veggies, like zucchini.

It’s probably clear by now that I’m a huge fan of adding sweet flavors to savory dishes. What makes this recipe shine is its sweet maple cinnamon vinaigrette. It couldn’t be more simple, but it’s highly delicious, and it could double as a marinade for roast vegetables, too.

Maple Cinnamon Vinaigrette (yields about 1 cup)

Ingredients:

½ cup oil of choice (I used a mix of olive and flax)
2-3 tbsps balsamic vinegar (start with two; if you like acid, like me, add another at the end)
¼ cup grade B maple syrup or yacon syrup (I used the latter, and it was great)
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsps Dijon mustard
3 tbsps water
¼ tsp salt
Pepper to taste

Directions:

Blend all ingredients in a blender, magic bullet, or food processor until rich and emulsified. Thin with additional water if you need to, but only if. You can also mix this dressing by hand, though it will take a minute for the syrup to break down.

I highly recommend doubling the recipe if you’ve got more than one person in your living space, cause it goes fast! But be sure to preserve some for:

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Raw Root Vegetable Salad with Maple Cinnamon Vinaigrette (serves 1 very generously)

Ingredients:

1/3 cup raw carrots, shredded (use two colors for variety, if you like)
¼ cup raw parsnip, shredded
¼ cup raw sweet potato, shredded
¼ cup raw sunchokes, peeled and very thinly sliced
¼ cup dried cranberries (try really hard to find an unsulphered, unsweetened variety)
3 tbsps-1/4 cup maple cinnamon vinaigrette

Directions:

Toss all of the vegetables and the cranberries together. Dress with three tablespoons or a quarter cup of the vinaigrette—adjust to taste—and savor!

This salad is full of crunch, but shredding the vegetables adequately ensures that it doesn’t make for a frightening first experience with raw roots. In fact, this would be a terrific addition to any fall dinner party menu or Thanksgiving table. It’s sweet and familiar, and it showcases the season’s best produce. Best of all, it’s tremendously nourishing: thanks to all of the tasty roots, it’s high in vitamins A and C, potassium, iron, and a whole lotta fiber.

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Yum.

For dinner a few nights ago, I served the root veggie salad alongside a giant kale salad. I adorned the plate with some of my leftover sunchokes, which I steamed, and topped the salad with some sunflower seeds.

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The verdict? Autumnal comfort food. Raw style. What an awesome way to begin Vegan Mofo!

Hope you’re all cooking up some amazing vegan food for October already. And thanks for the great response to the return of Raw Wednesday! I can’t wait for next week.

Happy Friday!

xo

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{ 36 comments… read them below or add one }

VeggieGirl October 2, 2009 at 7:02 pm

The vinaigrette is a PERFECT topping for root vegetables and that kale salad. Root vegetables deserve more praise, no? ;)

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Rawmazing October 2, 2009 at 7:12 pm

Looks wonderful! I am going to have to try that one!

Susan

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Sarah @ The Foodie Diaries October 2, 2009 at 7:21 pm

I also love the sweet and savory combo. Your vinaigrette sounds incredible; I’ll have to try it out!

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erica October 2, 2009 at 7:28 pm

Oh man, this salad is right up my alley! I’m in love with incorporating sweet flavors into savory dishes, so this one is perfect!

I already know what I’m making for dinner tomorrow night. ;)

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Jamie October 2, 2009 at 7:30 pm

Hey Gena, What type of mandolin did you use/do you recommend?
It looks like you used one to cut those veggies like matchsticks.
This would probably be especially good marinated I bet (it is nice to be able to make things ahead of time once in a while). Usually doesn’t happen when I eat salads most of the time!

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Gena October 3, 2009 at 9:05 am

Hey Jamie!

Really, any mandolin with a shredding setting will work just fine. And marinating it would be ideal!

Gena

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Teresa October 2, 2009 at 7:52 pm

If only I had read this post an hour ago… before I made my root veggie dinner. Your sauce looks much, much, more rich and comforting than mine turned out. I guess I’ll just have to try out this vinaigrette asap. I’ve been enjoying sunchokes for the past couple of weeks sliced raw in my salads, but I’m excited to try them out in a raw soup. Thanks for that tip!

Keep the comfort coming- it really does seem important in fall and the return of cool weather!

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Diana (Soap & Chocolate) October 2, 2009 at 8:01 pm

How very autumnal of you! And the cinnamon is a very healthy spice to boot. Sunchokes are still very mysterious to me – I’ve only ever had them in restaurants, but the tidbit about them being useful for thickening is very interesting. I still don’t know what it would look like whole! I like how all the root veggies are shredded, though – definitely makes it less of a task for those of us who have only ever had them cooked!

Since I’m unedumacated, I think you should make me a sunchoke. From thin air. Readysetgo.

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Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga) October 2, 2009 at 8:02 pm

Ooohhh I love the maple cinny vinaigrette! I make a sweet dressing nightly for my salads…usually agave and OJ as the base, and then I add other seasonings like cumin, sometimes ginger, black pepper, and have done cinnamon in the past but this is a great memory jogger for how much I love cinnamon and maple together…on greens! I also do dry ground mustard seed rather than prepared mustard in dressings too. Basically you’ve combined all my fave flaves in one, can’t wait to test drive it!

Oh ventured in the kelp noodle realm the past few nights. I am blogging bout them over the weekend. I still love my zuke noodles more but they are easy, fast and good.

And sunchokes? I woefully admit I have never sampled. Might be high time to do so :)

xoxo
Enjoy your weekend!

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Lindsay October 2, 2009 at 8:42 pm

That looks fantastic!

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BroccoliHut October 2, 2009 at 9:23 pm

What a perfectly autumnal salad! Thank you not only for the recipe but also for enlightening me on the true identity of sunchokes–I see them at WF all the time but never knew what they were until now.

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Erin October 2, 2009 at 10:25 pm

Another glorious Gena creation. I love parsnips too! I’m already searching for yacon syrup online :) Thanks for sharing such simple and beautiful recipes.

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Shelby October 3, 2009 at 5:03 am

Mmm, perfect dressing! I can’t wait to try it over sweet potatoes :)

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leslie October 3, 2009 at 5:32 am

oh, gena, this looks heavenly! i love parsnips, but i’ve never tried them raw. this recipe just got me very excited. thanks for sharing with us!

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Jordan October 3, 2009 at 5:33 am

Holy crap, that looks amazing, woman! I don’t even eat raw and I’m drooling. I love autumn foods. Numnum.

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Lauren October 3, 2009 at 6:34 am

I love sunchokes!! And fall is by far my favorite time of year! :) I am a big fan of Halloween, but not of scary movies (weird, right?).

Love the idea of making root veggie into a raw slaw! Although, I am a savory person! :) Have a lovely weekend!

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Katie October 3, 2009 at 6:53 am

That looks supa fab and SUPA comforting. And now, as the proud owner of a food processor, I can make your recipes SUPA SUPA fast!

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elise October 3, 2009 at 9:07 am

i have ALWAYS wondered what those are?! as a loyal top chef watcher, i have heard the phrase so many times…thanks for spotlighting them!!

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Alison October 3, 2009 at 9:29 am

That vinaigrette looks wonderful! How do you think it would taste with regular maple syrup – I don’t have Grade B.

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Shannon October 3, 2009 at 9:55 am

this looks incredible!! i’ve never tried sunchokes, but i’ve seen them occasionally… guess i’ll have to pick them up next time :)

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Earth Mother – In The Raw October 3, 2009 at 10:25 am

Before you even said it, I thought “I’m adding this to my Thanksgiving menu this year!”

Yum + gorgeous colors + crunch, works for me! :D

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melissa October 3, 2009 at 10:51 am

looks delish, love the intro, I actually meant to start a post with a little ode to autumn, but never got around to it.

The recipe looks divine. I saw a new brand of packaged unsulphered dried fruit the other day and I should have written down the name since it’s a rarity.

Oh, and horror? that is so funny! I have always wanted to see the midnight rocky horror picture showing, since it’s such a new yorky thing to do.

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birdy27 October 3, 2009 at 10:55 am

always glad to find more raw recipes! wanted 2 do some yams raw for sure, but a painful memory of chopping them a few years ago has stopped me. (same reason i abandoned the yummy carrot “tuna” recipe i found.) but this makes me want to try again. if i finally get a spiral slicer, will that work? or is the mandolin the key?

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nic - the auspicious squirrel October 3, 2009 at 11:32 am

I’ve been reading your blog for some time now, and decided to de-lurk…

That salad looks and sounds amazing, I will definitely have to try it. I will most definitely be trying that vinaigrette on my winter squashes! :)

Oh, and thank you for your post on pro-biotics and enzymes… I purchased udo’s enzymes shortly after and feel much better. I’ve been embarking on ‘green smoothies’ and eating more gas-causing veggies lately, the enzymes seem to be helping out alot. Thanks again, your posts are always so informative, yet friendly and comfortable.

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Heather McD (Heather Eats Almond Butter) October 3, 2009 at 12:41 pm

My bookmarked Gena recipes are starting to get out of control. Seriously…will you please just publish a cookbook? ;)

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Michal October 3, 2009 at 1:43 pm

This looks delicious as usual :)
A great way to start off vegan mofo indeed!

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Jennyjen October 3, 2009 at 3:00 pm

YUM!

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Abby (Abby's VeGaN Eats) October 3, 2009 at 3:06 pm

Delicious!! I just had kale with din! Nothing beats seasonal veggies. What a great way to start off the month :)

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Dori October 3, 2009 at 3:31 pm

That dressing recipe sounds perfect and one that I could and would actually make — hopefully very soon! Just need to get some dijon mustard. Do you recommend any particular brand?

I have never found unsweetend cranberries anywhere except on the internet where they were ridiculously expensive!

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Emily October 4, 2009 at 2:25 am

Gena, this sounds heavenly! Thank you for deciding my Sunday night supper :)

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Travel Raw October 4, 2009 at 7:36 am

Gena, the picture itself looks good enough to eat! Thanks for sharing. Also, I made your guacamole recipe the other day and it was fantastic!!

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Casey October 4, 2009 at 8:17 am

Your recipes are always so wonderful Gena! Thanks for sharing the yummy love :) xxx

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Christine October 4, 2009 at 8:28 am

Thanks, can’t wait to try this!

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Chelsea October 4, 2009 at 9:37 am

Oh, this looks fabulous! I’m a bit weary to try raw root vegetables, though. But, this might just be the recipe to get me to try them!

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Iris October 4, 2009 at 5:55 pm

Hey Gena! You inspired me to try and eat raw today. It wasn’t 100% raw, but it was definitely fun to challenge myself and learn some new ways to eat!

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Julia October 13, 2009 at 12:30 pm

Hey Gena,

I JUST tried this recipe (noshing on it as I write, actually) and it’s delicious! Now, I know you don’t like onions, but I just wanted to let you know that this recipe goes great with them! Something about the tangy bite of the onions, balanced by the sweetness of the dressing and the cranberries works really well. Thanks for the inspiration!

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