Meatless Monday: Roasted Spring Vegetable Salad

By: Patty Lee
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Meatless Monday is a global movement, a way of life. It’s not a campaign to turn everyone in the world vegetarian or vegan; in fact, many involved are meat-lovers. Eating less meat has been proven to reduce the risk of disease, curb obesity and has important environmental impacts, too. Will you join us in giving up meat, just for one day a week?

If a massive Easter feast has you feeling sluggish, reboot with this vibrant warm spring salad. Roasting the vegetables — a colorful tangle of mushrooms, asparagus, radishes and carrots — brings out their juicy, sweet notes; salty miso butter, rice wine vinegar and grated ginger balance the flavor. Top the lot with a poached egg and wisps of frisee for a meal hearty enough to stand in for dinner, but without any risk of a post-dinner food coma like yesterday's holiday ham.

3 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup yellow miso paste (or more to taste)
1 1/2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon peeled and grated fresh ginger (about 1/2-inch piece)
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

12 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, sliced into 1/2-inch pieces

8 ounces pencil asparagus, trimmed and sliced in half crosswise on the diagonal

8 ounces radishes, quartered lengthwise

2 bunches baby carrots, scrubbed clean and halved lengthwise (8 ounces)

1/3 cup olive oil
4 large eggs, cold
1 large head frisee lettuce
Toasted sesame oil, for drizzling, optional

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and set the racks in the middle and upper positions. Fill a wide saucepot with water 1 1/2 inches deep and bring to a gentle simmer over medium heat. Add in the white vinegar. Fill a large bowl with lots of ice and some water.

Mix the butter, miso, rice wine vinegar and ginger together in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

Toss the mushrooms, asparagus, radishes and carrots with the olive oil and some salt and pepper. Spread them evenly over 2 baking sheets. Place them in the oven to roast until they are softened, 10 minutes. Then rotate the baking sheets' position and cook until just starting to slightly brown around the edges, another 10 minutes.

Crack the eggs into 4 separate dishes. Using a spoon, stir the simmering water to create an eddy effect. Gently drop the eggs into the center of the eddy, recreating it after each one if necessary. Let the water do the work and cook the eggs until the whites have set, 3 to 4 minutes each. Once the eggs are set, use a slotted spoon to remove the eggs and place into the ice bath to stop the cooking. Keep the poaching liquid warm and at the ready. This can be done up to 1 hour ahead.

When the vegetables are finished roasting, add them to the bowl with the miso butter and toss. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

Place a pile of frisee on 4 salad plates and top with the roasted vegetables. Drop the eggs back into the warm poaching liquid to take the chill off and place your perfectly poached egg on top of your veggies. Drizzle each egg with some toasted sesame if desired and sprinkle with some salt and pepper.

Cook's Note: If you can't find pencil asparagus for this dish, just use regular asparagus. Use the top 3 to 4 inches and quarter them lengthwise. The same goes for the baby carrots; just peel and slice regular carrots in half lengthwise and then in half crosswise on a diagonal.

More Meatless recipes featuring spring vegetables:

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