Patriotic Composed Vegetable Salad is a scrumptious and healthy July 4th side dish. Prepare it ahead of time and enjoy the festivities with your guests. The resemblance to an American flag is impressionistic perhaps. But if you use your imagination…
I’m not usually creative with food in a crafty sort of way. I don’t know how to draw cute pictures on food like my online pal The Decorated Cookie. And although I have dreams about making cute fruit and vegetable creatures, I can’t seem to do it as well as Joost Elffers.
Still, I just had to play with food for this month’s Progressive Eats. The theme is “July 4th Barbecue – Something red, white, and blue or simply your favorite dish for celebrating all things USA!!” As soon as the image of a flag came to mind, I just had to figure out how to make it happen.
If I’d been smart I would have stuck to fruit. Blueberries, cherries, and banana or apple. Simple. But noooo!!! I needed the challenge of doing a composed vegetable salad. Honestly, what is it with me and challenges?
Have you ever tried to find a blue vegetable? There are purple vegetables. And vegetables that are blue or dark purple on the outside. But to find a vegetable that is blue on the inside? Not easy. I finally found blue potatoes, but a few small ones, mixed with red bliss and yellow in a bag that cost a small fortune. Alas, I couldn’t give up on my idea, so I bought the bag and began experimenting.
It turns out that some blue potatoes lose some of their color when boiled. So although I boiled this batch, I might roast them in the future to try and retain a more uniform color. Anyway, a few stayed blue enough for my purposes.
Cauliflower, blue potatoes and beets are all you need for the vegetable flag, plus a bit of oil, salt and pepper. I used a small cookie sheet (10-inches x 14 1/2 -inches), covered in parchment as the platter. Obviously, the amount of vegetables you will need depends on the size platter you use. This platter would feed 4-6 people, and maybe 8 if there are other vegetable side dishes.
I added a beet and yogurt dip too because, after all, who puts out a composed vegetable salad without dressing or dip?
Roasted cauliflower does not retain its pure white color. Still, the flavor is infinitely better than boiled or steamed cauliflower. Cutting the cauliflower into bite-sized pieces before roasting cuts down on the cooking time. Save the bits of the florets that fall off as you cut. They will be the stars on the background of blue potato slices.
Wrapping the beets in foil (as I do for my toaster oven version of roasted beets) keeps them from staining the other vegetables during roasting even if you use a single, large pan. Still, the beet juices will color the cauliflower whenever those two vegetables come into contact as you start to lay them on the platter. Just keep in mind that this is just supposed to be fun. Getting a bit of red on the cauliflower is not the end of the world as my mother would say.
To make the flag, I drew the basic outline on the parchment first. Next, I put down the blue potato slices in the upper left corner and sprinkled them with the cauliflower “stars.”. Then I laid out alternating rows of slices of beets and pieces of cauliflower. You can make the flag pieces hours ahead of time and refrigerate the roasted vegetables, ready for assembly later.
The beet and yogurt dip is easy to make with a small food processor or immersion blender.
Patriotic Composed Vegetable Salad - A Red, White, & Blue Vegetable Flag with Red Dip
Cauliflower, beets and blue potatoes make a fun red, white & blue composted vegetable salad in the shape of an American flag. The beet and yogurt dip adds a tasty finish.
Composed Vegetable Salad (in the shape of an American Flag)
- 4 medium beets, peeled and halved
- 4 blue potatoes (small), peeled
- 1 cauliflower, cut into bite-sized florets. Reserve the tiny bits of cauliflower that fall off the florets for the "stars" on the flag.
- 2-3 tablespoons oil I use canola for the cauliflower and potatoes and olive for the beets (because the latter are encased in foil)
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
- freshly ground pepper to taste
- 1/2 navel orange, sliced and each slice cut in half
- 1/4-1/3 cup cooked beets, diced (small pieces)
- 1 cup yogurt
- 2 tablespoons shallot, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/4 cup sour cream (optional)
Composed Vegetable Salad (in the shape of an American flag)
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Put a slice of orange between the beet halves, add a drop of oil and a bit of salt and pepper. Wrap each beet in foil. Drizzle oil on the cauliflower florets and small blue potatoes and sprinkle them with salt and pepper. Put all the vegetables on a large cookie sheet and roast. roast. After about 15 minutes, turn the vegetables. The potatoes may get done first - in general, the beets and cauliflower florets should take about 30 minutes.
Take the vegetables off the hot cookie sheet and let them cool down. Gently slice the potatoes. Slice three of the beets and half of the fourth. Cut each slice in half so it has a flat side and a round side. (Reserve the uncut part of the fourth beet.)
Line a small cookie sheet with 1 or 2 layers of parchment. Using a photo of a flag as a guide if necessary, draw a rectangle in the upper left and lines to guide the red and white stripes. Put the blue potato slices in the rectangle and sprinkle the reserved cauliflower bits on top for the stars. Then lay down the stripes of cauliflower pieces and beet slices.
Dice the reserved half of the fourth beet. Add to it the yogurt, minced shallot, salt, pepper, mustard, olive oil, and (optional) sour cream. Blend in a food processor or with an immersion blender. Chill.
The exact number of beets required for the red stripes will vary depending on the size of the beets, how thick you cut them, and the size platter you use. If you have leftovers, make a simple salad with beet cubes, feta, arugula and vinaigrette or a small serving of roasted beet tahini dip.
You can always stretch the cauliflower pieces to make more stripes by putting them a bit further apart.
Welcome to Progressive Eats, our virtual version of a Progressive Dinner Party. Our menu this month features a cocktail and dishes perfect for your 4th of July bash! We’ve got a great mix from appetizer to desserts; and yes, we have multiple desserts perfect for this summer holiday! Hosting this month is Barb from Creative Culinary.
If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, a progressive dinner involves going from house to house, enjoying a different course at each location. With Progressive Eats, a theme is chosen each month, members share recipes suitable for a delicious meal or party, and you can hop from blog to blog to check them out.
July 4th Picnic
- Red, White and Blue Pina Colada from Spice Roots
- Grilled Patriotic Pizza from Pastry Chef Online
- Patriotic Composed Vegetable Salad from Mother Would Know
- Hydrating Fruit Salad from Healthy Delicious
- Dessert Ice Cream Sundaes with Homemade Blueberry Sauce from The Heritage Cook
- Dessert Stars and Stripes Patriotic Berry Pie from That Skinny Chick Can Bake
- Red, White and Blue Shortcake with Lemon Pound Cake from Creative Culinary