Ashley Reese’s epicurean creations are striking enough to frame and hang on any wall, including one of her favorites: Roasted Baby Beet & Fig Salad.

“I was inspired in creating this dish, as there are a lot of ingredients that I enjoy myself—from great sources—and once put together, it looks like a work of art,” Reese said. “This dish is one that sets a tone for the beginning of the meal. It captures your attention by how it’s presented, since people often eat with sight first, followed by sweetness in the roasted vegetables, creaminess from the goat cheese, pepper from the watermelon radish and also a crunchy, salty accent from the pistachios.”

Her advice for building healthier food habits at home?”

“Start small but just start and don’t be afraid to make changes in daily habits,” she said. “Choose little things, such as reading labels and understanding the ingredients you are buying. Prep a day ahead, like washing produce and pre-cutting items to help save time for preparing healthy meals.”  

Ingredients:

• Baby red, golden and candy stripe beets

• Fresh figs, cut in half

• Watermelon radish

• Watercress

• Fiore di Capra goat cheese

• Baby carrots

• Roasted pecans, chopped

• Olive oil

• IP8 vinegar

1. Roast baby beets at 325 degrees for about 25 to 35 minutes or until soft. Cool slightly to clean and peel, keeping part of the stems attached for aesthetics.

2. Roast baby carrots at 325 degrees for about 12 to 15 minutes or until a little soft, depending on preferred texture.  

3. Peel and shave watermelon radish, slice thin on mandolin and keep in cold water to remain crisp.

4. Pick watercress and keep in ice-cold water to remain crisp.

5. Bring goat cheese to room temperature to soften slightly to be able to whip either with a tablespoon or two of water or cream until smooth and spreadable. You can add orange zest and a teaspoon of honey to enhance the flavor as well.

6. For presentation, place a tablespoon of goat cheese spread across the plate like a swoosh.

7. Build the salad with the baby beets using about one to two of each color across the goat cheese. Place two halves of fig leaning against a beet on both sides of plate. Garnish and fill in gaps with watercress sprigs and shaved watermelon radish, and sprinkle pecans on two corners of the goat cheese spread.

8. Finish salad with drizzle of olive oil, spritz of IP8 vinegar (or red wine or balsamic) and cracked black pepper. Enjoy!