Winter Salad

Keep it Bright: Blanching Vegetables

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The weather's gorgeous and no one wants to be indoors cooking for hours. Hence, blanching is the perfect vegetable technique for Spring. Many vegetables can be blanched in a pot full of boiling water until crisp and slightly under-done. Drain the vegetables and immediately plunge into a bath of ice water to stop the cooking and retain the bright color. You can cook several night’s worth of vegetables this way and store them in the fridge in containers lined with paper towel to capture the moisture. 

To use, sauté vegetables in good oil or butter just until warmed through or toss them into a salad. Mix vegetables that are grown in the same season; they naturally taste delicious together. 

Here’s a list of vegetables to use for blanching and fun combinations for sautéing. The italicised vegetables should not be blanched.

Asparagus, snow peas or sugar snap peas with:

  • Green onion, shaved fennel and slivered ham or prosciutto
  • Salted cashews
  • Sugar snap peas and frozen petite peas, lemon zest
  • Sesame seeds sautéd in sesame oil

Carrots with:

  • Green onion, lime juice, and chopped cashews
  • Ghee or coconut oil with cardamom, cinnamon, black pepper
  • Cauliflower, mint & preserved lemon

Broccolini with:

  • Garlic, olive oil and chili flakes
  • Capers, toasted hazelnuts or pine nuts 

Green beans with:

  • Bacon and toasted walnuts or pecans
  • Diced tomatoes, garlic and nicoise or black olives

Carrots with:

  • Caraway seeds
  • Chick peas, Moroccan spices

Broccoli, cauliflower with:

  • Garlic, crumbled (leftover) Italian sausage
  • Raisins soaked in hot water then sautéed, blue cheese crumbles, pine-nuts
  • Cauliflower with curry and raisins
  • Sautéd mushrooms, shallots, basil, Pecorino 
  • Brown butter, pumpkin seeds, cumin

Blanched Spring Vegetables with Arugula, Olive Oil, Lemon & Cheese

Here's a quick, delicious, and very detoxifying salad that I love to make-

In a bowl, add a large handful of arugula per person along with a handful of blanched vegetables per person.  Note that in the photo, I've used asparagus, snap peas and fava beans. Toss with just enough good quality olive oil to coat the leaves with no oil puddling at the bottom of the bowl. Squeeze fresh lemon juice to taste and toss with a spoonful of capers. Cover with a blanket of freshly grated Parmesan. Enjoy!

 

Roasted Beet & Delicate Salad, Pomegranate Molasses, Blue Cheese and Walnuts

Serves 4-6

Salads shouldn’t be a science project; amounts are flexible. Sometimes recipes are so exacting, they become intimidating. Go will your gut here and taste, taste, taste. This salad is such an explosion of bright Fall colors and flavors with sweet, salty and bitter blended together. You just can’t mess it up!

Serves 4-6

  • Good quality olive oil and balsamic vinegar 
  • 4 small beets, I like yellow and/or striped Chioggia
  • 1 Delicata squash, washed, halved lengthwise, seeded and sliced into half moons
  • 2 bunches or 1 bag arugula, washed and spun dry
  • 2 to 4 ounces good quality creamy blue cheese
  • pomegranate molasses
  • coarsely chopped walnuts, about 1/2 cup

Preheat oven to oven to 425°F or better yet, roast beets while the oven is on for something else. The temperature isn’t crucial, just adjust the cooking time. 

Slice off both ends of the beets, the tip and top just enough to expose the flesh. Scrub to remove dirt and wrap them loosely in foil. Beets of the same size can be wrapped together. If you have one or two larger beets, cut them in half so they are about the same thickness as the smaller beets. Place the foil packages a baking sheet and roast for 30 to 40 minutes for small beets.  

To roast the Delicata squash, place the half moons on a parchment-lined cookie sheet with just enough olive oil to moisten and barely be noticeable. Add to the oven and roast 15-20 minutes or until tender. Remove from the oven and cool.

Check the beets every 20 minutes or so. Beets are done when a sharp knife or skewer slides easily to the middle of the beet. Cool enough to handle and peel the beets with a sharp knife or by rubbing the skin away with a paper towel. Slice beets into wedges, place in a bowl and sprinkle with just enough balsamic vinegar to bathe the beets without a puddle at the bottom of the bowl

When ready to serve, toss the arugula in a bowl with just enough olive oil to lightly coat the leaves. Add a small splash of balsamic (you can always add more) and a sprinkle of salt. Toss and taste. If it’s perfect, add the beats and squash and toss to coat. Place in a serving bowl and drizzle sparingly with the pomegranate molasses. Sprinkle with the nuts and small blobs of cheese and serve.

  • For and entrée salad, add grilled chicken or serve with roast or grilled pork tenderloin brushed with more pomegranate molasses.
  • I like to roast vegetables when the oven is on anyway. Roast whatever you’ve got, onions, winter squash, broccoli, until just tender. Cool and refrigerate. They can then be used to toss with pasta, add to frittata or soups and used in salads as below.
  • Roast beets this way, tossing in balsamic and store them in the fridge to use throughout the week.