Shimmy Shimmy Ya, Ooh Baby I Like It Raw. . . A Chopped Winter Salad Recipe

 

So this isn’t exactly my mother-in-law’s winter salad recipe and not just because I can’t make it without singing a bit of Ol’ Dirty Bastard. Mine is a little flashier. The flavours are brighter. The textures more varied. Nothing is grated. It also includes oven roasted nuts and goats cheese.

Each bite offers a lot of crunch and color as well as a good dose of sweet, sour, and savory. It’s a salad that’s as balanced as it is beautiful.

Ingredients:

1 carrot, peeled and roughly chopped

1/3 small red cabbage, chopped

1 tart apple, chopped (I prefer Cox. Say it again and laugh. It’s alright.)

1 bulb of fennel, chopped (fronds too)

the arils from half a pomegranate

1/2 cup pecans

1 tablespoon pumpkin seeds

1 tablespoon maple syrup

2 tablespoons goats cheese (I like Moody’s Rosary Ash from Waitrose)

1 1/2 teaspoon poppy seeds

meyer lemon vinaigrette = 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard emulsified with 2 tablespoons rapeseed oil + 1 teaspoon honey + 1 tablespoon meyer lemon juice

 

Method:

Preheat the oven to Gas 6/4000°F/200°C.

While you wait for it to warm, chop your vegetables and fruit. Squeeze some lemon on the chopped apple to prevent it from discoloring. Set the fruit and vegetables aside in a large bowl. Add the pomegranate, cheese, and poppy seeds.

When the oven is ready, place the pecans and pumpkin seeds on a baking tray. Pour the maple syrup on them and toss lightly to coat evenly. Salt and pepper them. Toast them for about five minutes.

Make the vinaigrette while the nuts roast. When the nuts are ready, remove them from the oven and add them to the other ingredients. Toss and serve.

 

Winter salad

Winter salad

 

 

 

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You Can Win Friends with Salad

Last week, the dreariness of January really got to me.  I was desperate for a taste of sunshine.  That’s why I made Lucas Hollweg’s Chicken and bulgar wheat Waldorf salad with dill and poppy seed yogurt that featured in the September issue of Waitrose Kitchen.  I made a few substitutions: quinoa for bulgar wheat, pecans for walnuts, and orange and lemon instead of just the latter.  This salad was exactly what  I wanted and needed.  Light, refreshing, and full of the promise of spring and sunny summer days.  More importantly, I proved Homer Simpson wrong.  You can too win friends with salad.  My family loved it, especially tiny and these days she doesn’t eat anything but chips.  I’ll be making this one again soon.

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No Uscita

Last Tuesday warm wafts of star jasmine and lavender welcomed me to Palermo.  Though it was 93º Farenheit, a cool breeze kept me from knowing it.  There was a beautiful level of moisture in the air.  The humidity didn’t swallow me whole and I never felt sticky.  My hair just had more bounce and body than normal.  Then again, so did I after a few good meals.

San Vito Lo Capo  

lavender

sicily

Our first supper in San Vito Lo Capo was outstanding.  I had busiate which is the local pasta in Trapani.  The dried noodles look like this:

busiate

I ordered them alla norma which is to say with roasted aubergine the consistency of silk and topped with salty ricotta.  Henry had his noodles with urchin or as he calls them, the truffles of the sea.  Next up was a dish called tonno saporito.  It was grilled tuna with sauteed capers, olives, onions, tomatoes, oranges, and toasted pistachios.  Of course all this had to end with cannoli and eventually a walk on the beach.  

cannoli   

In Giuseppe di Lampedusa’s The Leopard, he writes, “Tancredi, in an attempt to link gallantry with greed, tried to imagine himself tasting, in the aromatic forkfuls, the kisses of his neighbour Angelica, but he realised at once that the experiment was disgusting and suspended it, with a mental reserve about reviving this fantasy with the pudding.”  This cannoli invoked all of that for me.  As did the late afternoon post-nap cherries and peaches I consumed.

Every day we were by the sea, I made sure to eat something from it.  Fish, octopus, squid, lobster, shrimp, you name it.  Then when we travelled south to Marsala and inland for a few days at a gorgeous baglio amongst the grillo vines, I ate scaloppine di vitello al marsala or al limone.  I snacked on olives and almonds from orchards I could see from our room.  I had prosciutto, melons, and blood orange juice at breakfast followed by espresso and chocolate muffins baked with roasted peanuts on top.

pesce

baglio pool vineyard

I watched England lose to Uruguay whilst sipping an aperol spritz and Italy to Costa Rica with a bottle of chilled frappato so evocative of pomegrante and blueberry I could hardly tell it wasn’t juice instead of wine.

I ate gelati like a school girl.

nocciola

I also wore respectable dresses when visiting churches and bared some cleavage when I wasn’t.

respectable

Madonna

outside the church

Sicily is full of magic.  It’s the kind of place where stray dogs and tiny street cats appear out of nowhere and lavish you with love for a few hours.  Crazy men passionate about life will let you sample their private stash of wine that tastes just as it would have when the English first discovered it centuries ago and thought we can manufacture this into something fortified and call it marsala.  Butterflies will land on your shoulder.  The sun will shine where you’re sitting.  And even when multiple road signs point in different directions but supposedly for the same place, you will find your way.  When you get there, there will probably even be a perfect scoop of coconut ice cream with your name on it.

I did lots of things in Sicily.  More than anything, I just sat in the sand or on a breezy hilltop and enjoyed my husband.  Five years and a demanding toddler later, we still like each other.  We still slow dance without any music when no one is looking.  And we still find the other fascinating and funny and still have things to say.  I know five years isn’t a long time but at home in London, a beloved spouse’s words are sometimes lost in the noise of everyday life.  It’s hard to hear over the din of a two year old.  But in Sicily the summer wind blew our distractions away.  All we could notice and revel in was each other (and the amazing food and drink, obviously).

beach hair

wine Tomasi

piccolo

honeymooners

Below is a recipe for a salad I made this evening when we needed a little Sicilian calm.  I followed it up with a chilli and crab risotto of Nigella Lawson’s I’ve come to love.  I hope you do too.

Sicilian Summer Salad    

Ingredients:

2 fennel bulbs, sliced

2 oranges, chopped

1/2 a ruby grapefruit, chopped

a handful of green Sicilian olives (I used Nocellara because they’re my favorite)

1 jar of the best tuna you can find (I like tuna in olive oil best even though I drain the oil)

a handful of fresh chopped mint

Method:  Drain the tuna and set it aside.  Chop/slice your produce and put it in a large dish.  Add the tuna.  Garnish with mint.  That’s it.  Sweet like the citrus groves and briny like the sea.  This is a salad that would be a pleasing side dish for any Phoenician queen.

tuna lid tuna

sicilian salad salad salad close up

 

Beet Greens Salad

Some people love beetroot.  I am not one of them.  Though I have always loved a good borscht, I have never loved beets.  In fact there was a time when I wouldn’t even eat them.  Not until I was 25 and my kid sister’s nanny always made them for her–roasted and served with balsamic vinegar, was I able to eat them without grimacing or furtively giving them to the dog under the table.  But what I have always loved are beet greens.  Sweet and delicious and packed full of antioxidants, fiber, vitamins, and protein.  They’re also really pretty with bright purple veins running throughout.  It’s a shame but most supermarkets sell beetroot without the greens attached.  To get them go to a farmer’s market or just grow them yourself.  You won’t regret it.

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Ingredients:

1 bunch of beet greens, washed and chopped

a bunch of dill, chopped

1/4 cup toasted chopped almonds

the juice of 1 lemon

a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil

salt & pepper

 

Method:  Put all the ingredients into a large dish, toss ,and serve.

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Whole Wheat Israeli Couscous Salad with Turmeric Vinaigrette

Despite being from Los Angeles, I am not a health nut.  Sure I drank juice elixirs laden with spirulina during my teen years, but I did so because they tasted nice.  That and you try ordering juice in Southern California that doesn’t already come with added super foods.  It’s damn near impossible.

My reason for using whole wheat Israeli or pearl couscous as it is also known is not health related.  Though it’s true whole wheat has more fiber and iron than the regular stuff, I really don’t care.  Its nutritional value is just an added bonus.  The reason I use it is because it tastes better.  I love its nutty flavor.  I also prefer its size as I think big grains are better in salads.

Given the grain’s natural nuttiness, I thought the salad should be decidedly nutty.  Which is why I added toasted almonds and hazelnuts.  They’re my favorite nuts but you should use what you like.  Same with the herbs.  Experiment.  Discover a combination you like best.

 

Ingredients:

150 grams whole wheat Israeli or pearl couscous

1/4 cup fresh chopped herbs (dill and flat leaf parsley)

1/4 cup toasted roughly chopped hazelnuts

1/4 cup toasted slivered almonds

1 sweet red Ramiro pepper, diced

Turmeric vinaigrette: 1 tablespoon dijon mustard, 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, 1/4 cup cyder vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon turmeric, salt and pepper to taste

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Method:

First, boil the coucous for about 6 minutes.  Make sure there is still a tiny bit of chew when you take it off.  Strain it and rinse with cold water to prevent further cooking.  Set this aside.

Next, toast your nuts over a low flame.  Sorry, the 9 year old in me can’t stop laughing over that last sentence.  But seriously, toast your nuts over a low flame.  Make sure they do not burn.    You only want them slightly browned.  Generally, I use my nose to tell me when they’re done. The moment you can smell warm hazelnuts and almonds, they’re probably ready.

Now chop your herbs and dice your red pepper.

Add all ingredients to a large bowl and gently mix.  Be sure not to smash your couscous.  Spoon over the vinaigrette.  I do this a tablespoon at a time so as to not get too much dressing on your salad.  A soggy salad is never good.  Season to taste and serve.

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Orange and Purple Summer Salad

Summer happened overnight.  Which is really rude when you consider how unready I am for summer clothes.  All I’m saying is perhaps a milder spring could have cajoled me into running around Greenwich Park a few more times before it became so hot you just want to walk around with as little on as possible without getting arrested for indecent exposure.  No matter.  All this heat and humidity will make me sweat my way to my target weight in no time.

That said, Sunday lunch needed adjusting.  A traditional roast just ceased to be weather appropriate.  So after I finished my first run of the season, my family and I headed to our local Farmers’ Market and bought the makings of a proper summer lunch.  A dressed crab (we named him Jeff on the walk home), avocados, a German seeded loaf, and the ingredients for my favorite salad–red cabbage, carrots, ginger, and sesame seeds.  While I fixed the salad, Helena enjoyed a homemade blueberry banana popsicle and played with a bucket of water on our balcony, as children with no pool do.  Henry read with his feet up in the shade.

playing in water popsicle smile

Below is my salad recipe.  It’s so simple and incredibly fresh.  I especially like the palate cleansing ginger.  Really nice with something like crab.  It’s also a really pretty salad, provided you like purple and orange.

 

Ingredients:

3 carrots

1/2 head of a small red cabbage

3 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds

3 tablespoons Chinese rice vinegar

1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

2 teaspoons honey

1/2 teaspoon grated ginger

Method:

In a large bowl, grate the carrots and cabbage together.  Next, toast your sesame seeds over a low flame just until their oils release.  Add those to your vegetables.  Finally, mix the last 4 ingredients together in a small bowl.  Flavor to your taste.  Pour over the salad, toss, and serve.

salad lunch

laughing jeff the crab horned snakey