Winter is a time for indulging in stews, soups and other comforting foods that you wouldn’t want to eat in the heat of summer. But occasionally in winter, salads are the main course, especially after a shopping trip when a glance at the dressing room mirror is as scary as watching “The Exorcist.”
So here are a few of the salads I’ve been eating over the winter, in case you have the urge to try on some new blue jeans too. The salad in the photo above contains campari tomatoes (the only decent ones to be found here in the winter other than grape tomatoes), red onion, pea shoots, sugar snap peas, edamame beans, avocado, cilantro. My standard salad dressing is 2 parts olive oil, 1 part white balsamic vinegar, a bit of Dijon mustard, a small amount of honey, salt and pepper. Shake well and pour.
This salad is Molly Wizenberg’s celery root, fennel and apple salad. The recipe calls for hazelnut oil. It’s expensive, but the salad just wouldn’t taste the same with a substitute. I omitted the parmesan cheese it calls for because it overpowers the hazelnut oil flavor, but I added some toasted hazelnuts and that enhanced it.
For this salad, I used a mesclun mix, roasted red beets, cara cara oranges, red onion, and goat cheese – standard salad dressing as in first salad, but used sherry vinegar instead of white balsamic.
This is a lentil salad made by boiling the lentils in water for about 1/2 hour and draining. Add whatever you like as accompaniments – I used celery, green pepper, carrots, onions, tomatoes and parsley. If I’d had some canned artichoke hearts I’d have thrown those in. For the dressing, I used olive oil, but added some lemon juice in addition to white balsamic vinegar, as well as a small amount of ground cumin, salt and pepper. Serve over radicchio and Belgian endive.
This salad contains green beans, matchsticks of jicama, blood orange sections and slices of red onion. I used a blood-orange flavored olive oil from the Carter and Cavero store in Princeton, the juice of an orange instead of vinegar, salt, pepper and a squirt of honey, plus some salt and pepper.
I thought I’d pull out my oils and vinegars to give you an idea of the variety I use – olive oils can be peppery, mild, fruity, plus that hazelnut oil I mentioned, and some canola oil for deep frying. My standard olive oil is extra virgin olive oil from Casale Sonnino, a villa and agriturismo near Rome owned by friends of mine. I can feel confident in knowing what I’m getting since the olives are grown on their property, hand-picked and pressed with supervision from the owners. I can’t wait to try Joe of Italyville’s olive oil too, from his Tre Olive brand. It should be ready for shipping soon.
Vinegars range from plain old white distilled vinegar that’s great for cleaning as well as pickling, to red wine, white wine, sherry, and aged balsamic vinegar from Acetaia San Giacomo. I like fig vinegar occasionally too, but am all out of it for the photo.
I couldn’t finish this post without mentioning the catastrophic earthquake and tsunami that occurred in Japan on Friday. From our comfortable homes in the U.S. and elsewhere, it is terrifying to see the enormous devastation caused by these powerful forces of nature. Imagine being there. We cannot ignore the plight of those involved. Many organizations are accepting your donations. Be careful because scammers also come out in force during tragedies like this. Click on the following names of news organizations that have compiled lists of trustworthy places where you can donate: MSNBC, Time, AP.