For the Creamy Sesame Dressing:
2/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons, divided unhulled sesame seeds
1 cup unsweetened soy, hemp or almond milk
2 tablespoons Rice vinegar
1 tablespoon raw cashew butter or 2 tablespoons raw cashews
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
5 dates, pitted
1 clove garlic, chopped
For the salad
2 medium beets, peeled and sliced 1/2 inch thick
1/2 cup water
8 ounces shiitake mushrooms, sliced
1 pound fresh asparagus, cut diagonally into 2 inch slices
1 tablespoon Mrs. Dash
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
1/2 cup sliced water chestnuts
4 cups watercress
Lightly toast 2 tablespoons of the sesame seeds in a pan over medium heat for 3 minutes, shaking the pan frequently. Set aside.
In a food processor or high powered blender, blend remaining 2/3 cup sesame seeds along with the other dressing ingredients, until smooth and creamy. Stir in toasted sesame seeds.
To make the salad, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place beets and water in a baking pan. Cover and roast for 20 minutes. Uncover and continue roasting until tender. If needed, add more water to keep beets from drying out. Set aside.
Meanwhile, water saute’ mushrooms over high heat for about 5 minutes, using only enough water to keep from scorching. When mushrooms are tender and juicy, add the asparagus and water saute’ until slightly tender but still crisp, about 5 minutes. Toss with Mrs. Dash and garlic powder. Remove from heat and toss with bell pepper and water chestnuts.
Place watercress on a plate and pile the vegetable mixture on top.