a winter’s salad
When I’m cooking for one I generally like to create some kind of extravagant salad. I pop in the market on my way home and pick up some hearts of palm or briny olives (things that don’t necessarily appeal to everyone) and a bit of pungent cheese, perhaps with a handful of herbs mixed in. I get out the fancy olive oil (the one reserved for drizzling over pasta or for sauces) and I toss in whatever else I find lurking in the kitchen.
This type of cooking is to me, the most luxurious. With no one to cater to but yourself the playing field is wide open and the time to experiment is never better.
During wintertime a cold meal loses its appeal. After trudging home in the frigid dark (it gets dark here at 4 pm now!) I want something hot to warm me up but the continual rotation of soup gets a bit dull and in spite of the indulgence all around me often I yearn for something virtuous. In this case I turn to a warm salad, the best of both worlds really. There’s something so pleasing about the way the warm ingredients gently wilt the lettuces. The dish becomes more whole somehow, warmer and fuller. I roasted fennel, eggplant and a handful of baby potatoes under high heat until the potatoes were tender, the eggplant had charred slightly and the fennel lay in caramelized ribbons. I tossed this with a mustardy vinaigrette, fresh mint, some romaine and chopped endive.
It tasted amazing but lacked punch. To brighten it up I added citrus, grapefruit wedges to be exact. The bitterness of the grapefruit plays nicely with the sweet fennel and eggplant here. It’s interesting and flavorful, the perfect one bowl winter salad.
In addition, I think this salad would also be wonderful with roasted zucchini or squash. The world is your oyster, or so they say, and you should definitely have your way with this salad.
Winter Salad with Roasted Vegetables (for one)
Recipe can easily be multiplied to serve a crowd
1 heart romaine, roughly chopped
1 heart endive, roughly chopped
1 eggplant, chopped into cubes
1 fennel bulb, sliced thinly
handful of small yellow potatoes, skins on, sliced thinly
1 grapefruit, cut into wedges
3 T extra-virgin olive oil
1 T white balsamic vinegar
1 t Dijon mustard
fresh mint, for garnish
Begin by roasting the vegetables. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, 200 degrees Celsius. Toss eggplant, potatoes and fennel on a lined baking sheet with 1-2 T olive oil (not the high quality stuff). Sprinkle with salt and pepper and then roast for 25-35 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
While the vegetables are roasting, make the dressing. Whisk the extra-virgin olive oil, vinegar and mustard together in a medium sized bowl. Dressing should be thick and creamy. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
When the vegetables have finished roasting remove from oven and while still hot, toss with the vinaigrette. Taste for seasoning. Next add the lettuces and mint. Toss to combine.
Serve salad on a large plate and top with the grapefruit wedges. Garnish with more mint if you desire. Eat alone, happily, on the couch tucked under a blanket. This is healthful gluttony at its best.