Is it surprising that a killer recipe was discovered in wine country? No, I’m not talking about Michelin star studded Napa. I’m talking about Washington state, down in the southeast corner in a little agricultural town called Walla Walla. “W2” is definitely on THE map when it comes to wine (and if it’s not on your map, now’s a really good time to google-research it and get on that bandwagon). And as many of you know, we are partners in a juicy venture there (full story on that HERE), which means we need/get to travel to W2 periodically for business reasons like…pouring lots of wine.
So, “there we were.” It was early May, and Spring Release Weekend in W2. Dave and I had traveled up to represent for Proper and share our latest vintage with our estate Syrah loving fans. We had a tasting event lined up, time in The Rocks with our vineyard managers, and other important to-dos, all of which are too much fun for us to technically call them “work” but still require a ton of energy. What is that saying? All work and no play makes Stephanie a very dull girl. Doesn’t it go like that? Well, don’t worry, we make sure we enjoy ourselves. Dave and I are huge fans of several wines being made in W2 by wineries such as Gramercy Cellars, Kerloo Cellars, Maison Bleue, and Rotie Cellars to name a few. Which is why we were at Gramercy’s release party one night, sampling Greg Harrington’s liquid art. The team at Gramercy always puts together a really fun yet casual party which makes for a relaxing atmosphere to just enjoy the wines being poured, but never forgetting that wine is made to accompany great food. This time there was some succulent BBQ, but honestly, I can’t even remember what, because once I clamped eyes on the roasted vegetables mounded beautifully on the table, I was sold out. Beets! Carrots! And fennel! Well, this roasted combination was so delicious that I had several helpings, and found out that the woman who was responsible for this fabulous concoction was the lovely Elisa Hope, friend of winemaker Greg Harrington and wife to Brian Hope, pastor of Mission Church in W2. Elisa was not only helping Greg throw a great party, but she also volunteered to help us pour wine the next day too. She graciously said she’d share her “recipe” with me, though it was intended for a party of 80 plus people, and even gave me permission to share it with all of YOU.
I did some testing this summer and found proportions to serve 6 to 8 people, and had some fun pairing this as a side with whole grilled fish and other grilled meats, and as a roasted salad served over pea shoots and other baby greens. The layers of flavor are so delicious from the roasted veggies, to the crunch of the fennel fronds and delicate leaves. It’s one of those recipes that works well with so many dishes or can stand alone, and a definite favorite which I will continue to make through the fall and winter months.
Maple Roasted Beets, Carrots & Fennel
recipe by Elisa Hope of W2, adapted by Stephanie Kunstle
Note: This recipe is brilliant because you can do so much of the prep and roasting the day before you want to serve it. Combine the veggies with the vinaigrette just before serving, top with fresh fennel frond slices and their leaves and you’re good to go. Once the weather turns cold, I may just combine these veggies and dress them while they are still hot. See what floats your boat and enjoy!
- 14 small to medium carrots
- 6 beets
- 3 fennel bulbs (fronds and leaves attached)
- 3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 1 Tbsp. maple syrup
- salt and pepper
- 1 clove smashed garlic
- 1 and 1/2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 3/4 Tbsp. maple syrup
- 3/4 Tbsp. orange juice (freshly squeezed is best)
- 1 tsp. whole grain mustard OR Dijon if you like a little zing!
- 1 tsp. sea salt
- 1-2 fennel fronds, to taste, cleaned and sliced
- about 1 heaping Tbsp. fennel leaves, torn or just barely chopped to break them up a bit
- Preheat oven to 400ºF
- Peel carrots and beets, keeping them separate to keep the colors true (if you let those beets near anything, all will be red!) and slice carrots lengthwise and then in half or thirds, and cut beets into 1 inch strips
- Trim fennel bulbs off fronds, peel off rough outer layer and slice into about 1/4-inch thick slices in whichever direction you prefer, reserve the fronds and leaves in the fridge for later on
- Combine the sliced carrots and fennel bulbs in a large bowl
- Place beets in a separate bowl
- Whisk together the 3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil and 1 Tbsp. maple syrup and pour 2/3 of the mixture over the carrots/fennel and the remaining 1/3 over the beets, stirring each bowl to coat the veggies well. Spread the beets onto a large baking sheet and the carrots/fennel onto another large baking sheet. Sprinkle generously with sea salt and some freshly cracked black pepper.
- Roast the beets and carrots/fennel separately at 400ºF for about 30 minutes. Let them cool and then chill the roasted veggies (still taking care to keep the beets separate) until cold or overnight.
- Combine vinaigrette ingredients and toss ALL the veggies together with the vinaigrette. Top with sliced fennel fronds and scatter with fresh fennel leaves. Serve cold or at room temperature as a side, or over baby greens (pea shoots, anyone?) as a salad.