Satisfying Winter Salad Choices

Winter is not known as the season for great salad but it could be! It has been so cold here in PA I am longing for summer fruits so these winter salads can fill that bill when you are meal planning.

I am giving you two salads for this post plus variations for each. Try your own blends but it is best not to throw everything in the fridge in it.  Try to be selective and highlight one or two ingredients.  Simple salads I like have only three – five ingredients and I use my homemade vinaigrette dressing.   They are pretty healthy and probably fairly low in calories yet high in nutritional value.  These are basic recipes which you can tweak depending on the ingredients in your fridge and pantry.

Here are two versions of my winter salad.  This is a repost from my blog three years ago. I eat these salads all winter long and think you should too. Recently I bought a few blood oranges and used them in lieu of a navel orange; totally different look but pretty much the same flavor; fun!  Another change is I use cubed papaya in lieu of the orange.  Love that one too.

Super Winter Salad (serves 1)

½ an avocado

1 celery stalk

3-4 leaves of green loose leaf lettuce

2-3 tbsp. fresh pomegranate seeds

Or try this yummy winter salad which shows off citrus flavor and color:

s

Citrus Fennel Salad (serves 1)

1 inner stalk of celery cut in 1/3 inch rounds

1 navel orange

¼ cup fennel bulb, cut in ¼-1/3 inch slices

Peel the orange, either by hand or using a paring knife.  Cut across into rounds about ¼-1/3 inch across.  Cut again across into halves.

Fennel has a sweet crunch to it, faintly tasting of licorice, kinda sort of and it marries really well with citrus.  I also like to use blood orange or cara cara navel oranges in this recipe.  Even grapefruit slices are great.  Cara cara oranges have an interesting orange-pinkish cast to the fruit and a lovely sweet flavor.  The local Giant grocery store has them on display right now.  You can also mix two citrus in your salad; a navel and a blood orange.  Fantastic!

Finishing directions for both salads:

Place the salad ingredients in your salad dish; I have some very low sided ceramic bowls I got a long time ago that I love for salad. Then sprinkle the salad with vinaigrette which you just shook up one last time! Please don’t add too much salad dressing or you will have soggy salad, really not a good thing.

Margie’s Vinaigrette

I named this after my older sister who passed away several years ago.  She made fantastic vinaigrette.  Mine is not quite like hers but close enough to masquerade as it.  She would approve….

So, I like to use one of those Good Seasoning’s jars but add my own ingredients, use a pint jar if you like; the main thing is a tight fitting lid.  Fill it to the vinegar line with red wine vinegar, please don’t use the cheap store brand (skimpy 1/4 cup).  Then some filtered water to the water line (about 1/3 inch more or two tbsp.). Next I add ½ tsp Dijon mustard, ½ tsp sea salt, ¼ tsp dried oregano, a sprinkle of dried thyme, 1 tsp mayonnaise, ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper, ½ tsp sugar and [optional] one garlic clove (peeled and mashed down a bit to release flavor),. Then add extra virgin olive oil, stop a bit before the oil line and finish it with lighter olive oil (1/2 cup plus one Tbsp. of combined olive oils).  Shake it up really well. Then shake it some more, you need to get the mayo to blend in as completely as possible. It tastes best at room temperature and plan ahead – let it rest for at least an hour before you use it the first time.  Keep it in the refrigerator if there is any left over, lasts like a month in there. The mustard adds snap and the bit of mayo helps the dressing stay emulsified (fully blended) longer than it would without the mayo.  If your salad is delicate and you don’t want as much olive oil flavor use only mild olive oil and skip the EVOL.  If you chill the dressing you will need to let it warm up before using it; ten seconds in the microwave can help with that process.

Note: You could up the nutritional value with a few almonds or walnuts if you like nuts in your salad.

More thoughts: I make any number of salad combos.  Two of my favorite ingredient combinations are: shredded carrot, sliced radishes, chickpeas, romaine and half rounds of European cucumber or a mixture of torn kale leaves, shredded raw Brussels sprouts, scallion rounds and julienned raw summer squash.  Both mixtures are great with this vinaigrette.  Just don’t put more than say five things in any one salad or it will have a mixed up taste.

Last thoughts: I generally avoid tomatoes in winter although some grape tomatoes are pretty tasty; use them if you feel the need for tomatoes.

So, go get your healthy green on and enjoy a fruity salad, even in the winter.

Reposted from February 2015 with minor changes.

Figgy Salad

983D3402-BB56-4CBD-A5FE-8FBF39114F6EFigs in my salad? Yes, please! Just throw together a simple salad and add a few fresh figs cit in chunks. Delicious.

FiggySalad – for one

slice a dozen rounds of European burpless cucumber

1/2 cup fennel, thinly sliced

6 cherry or grape tomatoes

3-4 ripe brown turkey figs

a handful of fresh salad greens like arugula, frisse or butter gteens

Place the greens on salad plates. Top with cucumber slices, fennel slices, tomatoes and figs cut in halves or quarters depending on size.

Then sprinkle with your favorite vinaigrette salad dressing. Delightful!

 

 

 

 

 

Super Spring Salads

Early spring is not known as the season for great salad but it could be! I am giving you several salad options in this post. Try your own blends but it is best not to throw everything in the fridge in it.  Try to be selective and highlight only a couple ingredients.  Simple ones I enjoy have only three – five ingredients and I use my homemade vinaigrette dressing.   They are pretty healthy and probably fairly low in calories yet high in nutritional value.  These are basic recipes which you can tweak depending on the ingredients in your fridge

Avocado Celery Salad (serves 1)

½ an avocado

1 celery stalk

3-4 leaves of green loose leaf lettuce

2-3 tbsp. fresh pomegranate seeds (optional)

—————-

Or try this yummy salad which shows off citrus flavor and color:

Citrus Fennel Salad (serves one or two)

1 inner stalk of celery cut in 1/3 inch rounds

1 navel orange

1/2 cup fennel bulb, cut in ¼-1/3 inch slices

Peel the orange, either by hand or using a paring knife.  Cut across into rounds about ¼-1/3 inch across.  Cut again across into halves.

Fennel has a sweet crunch to it, faintly tasting of licorice, kinda sort of and it marries really well with citrus.  I also like to use tangerines, Clementines, blood orange or cara cara navel oranges in this recipe.  Even grapefruit slices are great.  Cara cara oranges have an interesting orange-pinkish cast to the fruit and a lovely sweet flavor. My local Giant grocery store has them on display right now.  You can also mix two citrus in your salad; a navel and a blood orange.  Fantastic!

I also make this same salad but instead of an orange I use a half to 3/4 cup of cubed fresh peeled ripe papaya; gives a lot of color and great flavor in this salad.

Finishing directions for these salads:

Place the salad ingredients in your salad dish; I have some very low sided ceramic bowls I got a long time ago that I love for salad. Then sprinkle the salad with vinaigrette which you just shook up one more time! Please don’t add too much salad dressing or you will have soggy salad.

Margie’s Vinaigrette

I named this after my older sister who passed away three years ago.  She made fantastic vinaigrette.  Mine is not quite like hers but close enough to masquerade as it.  She would approve….

So, I like to use one of those Good Seasoning’s jars but add my own ingredients, use a pint jar if you like; the main thing is a tight fitting lid.  Fill it to the vinegar line with red wine vinegar, not the cheap store brand (skimpy 1/4 cup).  Then some filtered water to the water line (about 1/3 inch more or two tbsp.). Next I add 1 tsp Dijon mustard, ½ tsp sea salt, ¼ tsp dried oregano or dried thyme, one garlic clove (peeled and mashed down a bit to release flavor), 1 tsp mayonnaise, ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper and ½ tsp sugar. Then add extra virgin olive oil, stop a bit before the oil line and finish it with lighter olive oil (1/2 cup plus one tbsp of combined olive oils).  Shake it up really well. Then shake it some more, you need to get the mayo to blend in as completely as possible. It tastes best at room temperature and plan ahead – let it rest for at least an hour before you use it the first time.  Keep it in the refrigerator if there is any left over, lasts like a month in there. The mustard adds snap and the bit of mayo helps the dressing stay emulsified (fully blended) longer than it would without the mayo.  If your salad is delicate and you don’t want as much olive oil flavor use only mild olive oil and skip the EVOL.  If you chill the dressing you will need to let it warm up before using it; ten seconds in the microwave can help with that process.

Note: You could up the nutritional value with a few almonds or walnuts if you like nuts in your salad.

More ideas: I make any number of salad combos depending on what is in my fridge.  Two of my favorite ingredient combinations are: shredded carrot, sliced radishes, chickpeas, romaine and half rounds of European cucumber or a mixture of torn kale leaves, shredded raw Brussels sprouts, scallion rounds and julienned raw summer squash.  Both mixtures are great with this vinaigrette.

Last thought: I avoid tomatoes in winter or spring although some of the grape tomatoes are decent in flavor; use them if you feel the need for tomatoes. One last note: I don’t use tomatoes with citrus or papaya; sort of weird together.

So, go get your healthy green on and enjoy a fruity salad anytime of the year.

Green Summer Soup – Kermit Would Approve!

I have been enjoying a cook book called “Feel Good Food” by Giada de Laurentiis of Food Network fame.  This soup recipe just jumped out at me; my fridge or garden contained all the veggies in it, it sounded interesting and so I had to try it.   Here is a picture I took of a bowl of it.  Doesn’t do it justice at all; it is brighter in color and lighter on the palate.  Refreshing when cold too!Image

My mom loves soup so I took her some and it disappeared rapidly.  Simple to make, healthy, tasty and my mom liked it! Home run.

I used loose leaf garden lettuce in my version.  Great way to use up an excess of garden lettuce before it can bolt!  The original uses a head of Bibb lettuce.  I wouldn’t suggest iceberg or romaine but any soft lettuce should work.  I skipped the topping of fennel fronds she suggests; up to you on that issue.  An alternative topping might be a few sprigs of finely chopped garden lettuce.  And if you are a vegetarian I am sure you can easily substitute veggie broth for the chicken broth. It is tasty both warm and cold which I like.   Image

A note on shallots.  They are excellent in many recipes; more subtle than onions so I suggest you try it with shallots if at all possible. I get them fairly cheap at Valley Farm Markets in Bethlehem. I am positive Wegmans carries them too.  Image

Green Pea, Fennel and Lettuce Soup

 

3 tbsp butter

1 medium fennel bulb chopped; about 2 cups

2 large shallots

1 medium head Bibb or Boston Lettuce, chopped (about 4 cups)

1 ten ounce bag petite peas, frozen (I weighted that out from a pound bag of peas)

1 ½ cup chicken broth

¾ tsp. fennel seeds

½ tsp kosher salt

½ tsp. fresh ground black pepper

Melt butter in a big heavy bottomed sauce pan.  Add fennel and shallots.  Cover and cook, stirring occasionally until they soften 6-7 minutes.  Add he lettuce and stir until wilted; 1-2 minutes. Mix in broth, peas and a cup of water, bring to point of boiling, lower heat, cover and simmer for 6 minutes.  Let cool partially.  Image

Puree in blender in 3 batches adding ¼ tsp fennel seeds to each batch.  Place in bowl and return all soup to sauce pan, add salt and pepper, reheat and serve warm but not hot.  Might need to thin with water.  Also yummy chilled.

This is naturally gluten free and will keep in your fridge for a few days, if it lasts that long.  I call it “green soup” for short and it is nourishing and tasty for lunch on a hot summer day.  This recipe is a keeper for me and I hope the same is true for you.