Last summer our family of five traveled to Arizona along the I-5 corridor making a surprise stop in Disneyland. I still remember the thrill in our daughter's eyes when we woke up in a hotel to reveal our surprise of entering Disneyland that day. After an "let's cram it all in" sort of day, we hit our pillows hard to welcome a day of relaxation in southern California.
As an Arizona native, I always felt a duel citizenship with California as we traveled to San Diego every Christmas and various holidays to spend with our extended family. Since my dad was born and raised, it was only natural a part of me grew up there with the stories I heard and the sights I had experienced. I still remember the curvature of I-8 when leaving El Cajon and burgeoning San Diego appeared. The highway signs boasting "Beaches" always foreign, and forever magical to me.
In my freshman year of high school I moved with dad and brothers to one of the adjoining cities in Orange County called Fountain Valley. The temperature always pleasant, and if you were hot you could literally go upstairs to Willy's room to stand in front of the open window to feel the breeze waft in from the ocean (and we were still 15 minutes away). With San Diego beaches forever on my mind, I would come to love and appreciate Huntington Beach.
Our family would bring hot dogs to roast, and my dad's obligatory 'Pork & Beans,' with the lid opened and cooked right over the flames. I hadn't returned to this little spot in ages. So, as we traveled to La Lima where our townhouse resided I texted Willy & Andrew a picture asking if they recognized the place. They both knew. I showed Ben and the girls my high school, the 711 where I stood aimlessly as Willy played the new Mortal Combat game, and of course, Huntington Beach.
It's interesting how an image of a place can either be spot on when you return, or completely different. In this instance it was different with more shops and traffic than I remember. As we pilled out of the van, the smell of sunscreen and salt filled the air. Breath in deep and there I was, 14 again.
We walked into a little restaurant, which promised unique flavors, a splash of hipster and a decent drink menu. Ben and Cadence ordered the burger on a brioche bun, big slabs of bacon & cheddar cheese. Veronica ordered a variation of a croque-monsieur. I wanted to stick with a salad, and the one with sliced root vegetables of beets, radishes, carrots, & fennel, topped with gorgonzola and an orange vinaigrette sounded light, yet refreshing. Plus, I wanted to order their boozy butterscotch milkshake, so priorities in calories--yes?!
The shake arrived and fulfilled all my expectations of rum, vanilla ice cream and butterscotch drizzled around. Then, the salad in all it's glory piled high with shaved vegetables, walnuts & gorgonzola promised a taste truly divine. Upon first bite, it fell flat. Upon second bite, hoping for something, it was evident this salad although gorgeous suffered from lack luster. This meant one thing, I was determined to recreate this salad at home bursting with flavor.
And so, this summer medley of sliced fennel, red & golden beets, radishes, and carrots topped with gouda & macadamia nuts serves up a more well-rounded flavor profile. The macadamia nuts lend a salty buttery fat and the gouda a creaminess, both needed to strengthen the cleanness of the vegetables. I needed the vinaigrette to punch up the garden flavors, which comes through in the apple cider vinegar & a splash of orange to brighten it up. After eating this salad your body will thank you.
Summer Medley: Raw Sliced Root Vegetables (Fennel, Radish, Carrot, Beet with Macadamia Nuts & Gouda) PRINTABLE RECIPE
You really need a mandoline to make this salad, in order to get perfectly sliced vegetables. I have this one. If you would like to make this vegan, simply omit the cheese and sub the honey with agave nectar.
1 bunch of Radishes
2- Fennel bulbs
3-4 Yellow beets
3-4 Red beets
4 Carrots, medium size
small handful of chives
1/4 cup of macadamia nuts
1/3-1/2 cup gouda
1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar (I use raw from Bragg's)
1/4 tsp salt
1 Tb raw honey (you can use non-raw honey)
1 orange, fresh squeezed orange juice 2-4 Tb to taste to likeness
Prepare all your vegetables, by scrubbing them clean. Peel your carrots & beets. When peeling your red beets, be sure to put them in a separate spot to avoid staining everything else.
Using a mandolin, slice all your veggies. Begin with radishes, then fennel, carrots, yellow beets and lastly the red beets. You will want a 1/8 to 1/16th inch slice, depending on how small your mandolin goes. If it doesn't give you measurements, then simply use the smallest setting.
Get bowls for each sliced veggie to store them while you make the vinaigrette.
In a measuring cup, add the oil, ACV, salt & honey and whisk together with a fork. Taste, then add the orange juice tablespoon by tablespoon for taste. Set aside.
Once you are done with the vinaigrette, fill the bowls with ice cold water. You will immerse them into the cold water to keep them crisp. Keep the veggies in the water for about one minute.
Dump out the ice cold water from each veggie bowl. Place each veggie in a salad spinner to remove excess water. Do this in order of light colored veggies to darker ones (fennel, radishes, carrots, yellow beets, red beets). Put the veggies back in their separate bowls. Now, add 1 - 1 1/2 Tb of vinaigrette to each bowl of vegetables. With your hands, lightly coat the vegetables. Allow the vegetables to sit while you cut the gouda into 1/4 inch cubes.
Layer the vegetables in a large shallow bowl beginning with the red beets, then yellow beets, then carrots, then radishes and lastly fennel. Add the rest of the vinaigrette to the vegetables. With light hands, gently toss the vegetables with the vinaigrette. Add the cubed gouda around the salad along with macadamia nuts. Using kitchen shears, or a chef knife, snip/cut the chives into 1/8 inches and garnish the salad.
Serve right away, or allow to sit to further absorb the flavor into the vegetables. This will store just fine in the fridge for a couple days. The only thing is the red beets will also bleed it's color turning the salad more pink.
You could prepare this in advance and store in fridge, just keep red beets separately and wait till serving to add nuts, cheese, and chives.