Fresh Winter Salads

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I’m so longing for some fresh tasting salad after weeks of comforting stews and braises – I of-course love those but I’m now ready for some light crunchy winter vegetables with clean zingy dressings. I know one normally associates Spring and Summer with salads but cold weather vegetables make great salads too – chicory, fennel, celery, kale, romanesco, carrot, parsnip and the humble cabbage, both red and green, I must have six or eight cabbage salads in my repertoire and no doubt I’ll add a few more – and I’m not even counting the ubiquitous coleslaw.

Celery is of course available year round but like many vegetables it become sweeter if it gets a touch of frost, I use the outside leaves for the stock pot and the inner leaves for soups, stews and risottos, the tender little yellow heart has a particularly subtle taste and are good in salads or as a delicate element on a plate of crudités with aioli.

The several types of radicchio, mostly named after towns near Venice, Treviso, Chioggia, Tardivo have a clean bitter sweet flavour, an acquired taste but so cleansing after winter.

Chicory another slightly bitter vegetable is great in winter salads and partners well with apples, walnuts, rocket, blue cheese and of course pears.

On a recent trip to Copenhagen, a Danish cook and friend Camilla Plum made this delicious kale salad with a dressing of cream and lemon juice, reminiscent of what my grandmother used to make. Kale the most nutritious of all the brassicas is now much more widely available and this is a particularly appetising way to serve it.

I’ll also include my ‘other’ daughter-in-law Penny’s recipe for cabbage salad. We made it here at the school recently and the students couldn’t get enough of it, an inexpensive, nutritious and totally delicious salad for the weekend.

 

Sweet Winter Slaw

Taken from Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi published by Ebury Press

 

This salad will bring colour to your winter dinner table and liven up any meal. You can leave out the caramelized macadamias, if you like, or use roasted peanuts instead. Consider serving the slaw with Chard or roast chicken.

 

Serves 6

 

150g macadamia nuts

10g butter

2 tbsp sugar

½ tsp salt

½ tsp chilli flakes

7 inner leaves of Savoy cabbage (170g in total), finely shredded

½ red cabbage (270g), finely shredded

1 mango, cut into thin strips

1 papaya, cut into strips

1 fresh red chilli, deseeded and finely sliced

15g mint, leaves picked and roughly chopped

20g coriander, leaves picked and roughly chopped

 

Dressing

 

100ml lime juice

1 lemongrass stalk, chopped into small pieces

3 tbsp maple syrup

2 tbsp toasted sesame oil

1 tsp soy sauce

¼ tsp chilli flakes

4 tbsp light olive oil or sunflower oil

 

To make the dressing place all the ingredients, except the oil, in a small saucepan and reduce over a high heat for 5–10 minutes, or until thick and syrupy. Remove from the heat. Once cooled down, strain the sauce into a bowl and add the oil. Put aside for later. To caramelize the macadamias, place them in a frying pan and dry-roast for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, until they are lightly coloured on all sides. Add the butter. When it has melted add the sugar, salt and chilli flakes. Use a wooden spoon to stir constantly to coat the nuts in the sugar as it caramelizes. Watch carefully as it will only take 1–2 minutes and the sugar can burn quickly. Turn out onto a sheet of greaseproof paper. Cool the nuts, then roughly chop them. Place the shredded cabbages in a large mixing bowl with the rest of the salad ingredients, including the nuts. Add the dressing and toss together. Taste and add more salt if you need to, then serve.

 

Curly Kale Salad with Lemon and Cream

 

This is reminiscent of my grandmother’s dressing for lettuce, sounds a bit shocking but you are not going to eat the whole bowl yourself. Half natural yoghurt could be substituted for full cream.

 

Serves 10 – 12

 

450g (1lb) curly kale (225g (8oz) when destalked

lemon, finely grated zest and juice of one lemon

25g (1oz/1/8 cup) sugar

250ml (9oz) cream

Sea salt – scant teaspoon or to taste

 

Strip the kale off the stalks, chop the leaves very finely and toss into a bowl. Grate the zest of the lemon directly onto the salad. Add the freshly squeezed juice, a good sprinkling of sugar and some sea salt. Toss, pour over the cream and toss again.

Taste and add a little more seasoning if necessary – totally delicious.

 

Penny’s Cabbage Salad

 

This delicious recipe was given to me by my daughter-in-law Penny.

 

Serves 4

 

1/2 Savoy cabbage, finely shredded

1 fennel bulb (optional), finely shredded

2-4 tablespoons fresh herbs – parsley, chives, mint, finely chopped

 

Vinaigrette

2 tablespoons Forum vinegar

5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 heaped teaspoon grain mustard

1 large clove of garlic, crushed

1 tablespoon honey

Maldon Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

 

To make the salad.

Thinly slice the cabbage and fennel bulb is using.  Transfer to a roomy serving bowl and add the freshly chopped herbs and toss.

 

To make the vinaigrette.

Mix all the ingredients together in a jam jar and shake well before use.

 

To Serve

Drizzle the vinaigrette over the cabbage, fennel and herbs and mix gently.  Serve immediately.

 

 

Bittersweet Salad

Taken from Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi published by Ebury Press

 

I don’t usually celebrate Valentine’s Day. This is due to cowardly cynicism, combined with a firm belief that you cannot just create a momentous intimate occasion, especially when millions of other couples are trying to do exactly the same. It just feels a bit claustrophobic. But if you twisted my arm and forced me to, I guess I would choose this salad to celebrate the day, representing the more realistic flavours of love: bitter and sweet. The theme here is red. For this salad I’d go out of my way to find an exciting combination of red leaves and herbs. I love the long, twisted red leaves of some varieties of radicchio di Treviso. Red orach, purple basil, red amaranth and bull’s blood (red) chard are also stunning leaves. Some tiny sprouting varieties, such as radish or purple basil, will also add character.

 

Serves 2 (of course)

 

2 blood oranges (or plain oranges)

blood orange juice as needed

20ml lemon juice

60ml maple syrup

½ tsp orange blossom water

½ small radicchio

1 small red endive (red chicory), leaves

separated

1 tbsp olive oil

handful of small red leaves

150g good-quality ricotta

20g pine nuts, toasted

100g pomegranate seeds (1 small pomegranate)

coarse sea salt and black pepper

 

Start by making the orange syrup. Take each of the blood oranges in turn and use a small sharp knife to slice off the top and base. Now cut down the side of the orange, following its natural curve, to remove the skin and white pith. Over a small bowl, cut in between the membranes to remove the individual segments into the bowl. Squeeze all the juice from the membrane and skin into a small saucepan. Make up the juice in the pan to 110ml with extra blood orange juice. Add the lemon juice, maple syrup and a pinch of salt and bring to a light simmer. Leave to reduce for 20–25 minutes, or until you are left with about 3 tablespoons of thick syrup. Strain it through a fine sieve and allow to cool down, then stir in the orange blossom water. Pull apart
the radicchio leaves and tear them roughly into large pieces. Put into a mixing bowl. Add the endive leaves, oil and some salt and pepper, and toss gently. Divide the salad leaves between two serving plates. Dot with the orange segments, small red leaves and spoonfuls of ricotta, building the salad up. Drizzle with the orange syrup and finish with pine nuts and pomegranate seeds.

 

 

Celeriac and Lentils with Hazelnut and Mint

Taken from Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi published by Ebury Press

 

Celeriac is probably my favourite root. It is delicate, yet very nutty, and has an elegant oily smoothness. Like all good vegetables, it is marvellous simply with a bit of olive oil. Here it works with the lentils and nuts to create a hearty autumn main course. Serve it warm, with a radish, cucumber and dill salad dressed with soured cream and olive oil. Or, allow it to cool down, then take it to work for lunch or on a picnic.

 

Serves 4

 

60g whole hazelnuts (skin on)

200g Puy lentils

700ml water

2 bay leaves

4 thyme sprigs

1 small celeriac (650g), peeled and cut into 1cm chips

4 tbsp olive oil

3 tbsp hazelnut oil

3 tbsp good-quality red wine vinegar

4 tbsp chopped mint

salt and black pepper

 

Preheat the oven to 140°C/Gas Mark 1. Scatter the hazelnuts on a small baking sheet and roast in the oven for 15 minutes. Let them cool down, then chop roughly. Combine the lentils, water, bay leaves and thyme in a small saucepan. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 15–20 minutes, or until al dente. Drain in a sieve.

Meanwhile, in a separate saucepan, cook the celeriac in plenty of boiling salted water for 8–12 minutes, or until just tender. Drain. In a large bowl mix the hot lentils (if they have cooled down they won’t soak up all the flavours) with the olive oil, 2 tablespoons of the hazelnut oil, the vinegar, some black pepper and plenty of salt. Add the celeriac and stir well. Taste and adjust the seasoning. To serve straight away, stir in half the mint and half the hazelnuts. Pile onto a serving dish or in a bowl and drizzle the remaining hazelnut oil on top. Garnish with the rest of the mint and hazelnuts. To serve cold, wait for the lentils and celeriac to cool down before finally adjusting the seasoning and possibly adding some more vinegar, if you like. Add hazelnut oil, mint and nuts in the same way as when serving hot.

 

Pheasant, Radicchio, Chestnut, Chicory and Pomegranate Salad

 

Serves 6

 

1 pheasant freshly roasted

sprig of thyme

½ oz (10g) butter

chestnuts

½ pomegranate

I head of chicory

½ to 1 head of radicchio

1 bunch watercress

 

Dressing

 

1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses

5 – 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon honey

Salt and freshly ground pepper

 

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Mark 6. Tuck a sprig of thyme into the cavity of the pheasant and slather the breast and legs of the bird with butter. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Roast for 35 minutes in the preheated oven add the quartered chestnut to the roasting tin, toss in the juices and allow to rest for a further 10 minutes.

Meanwhile remove the pomegranate seeds and save. Slice the radicchio and put into a large bowl. Add the sliced chicory and watercress sprigs. Next make the dressing, mix the pomegranate molasses or white wine vinegar, honey and extra virgin olive oil. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper, whisk to emulsify. Carve the pheasant, divide the breast into 3 or 4 pieces, and separate the drum stick from the thigh. Put back into the roasting tin and toss gently in the cooking juices with the chestnuts.

 

To Serve

 

Shake the dressing once again, sprinkle over the salad, toss gently and turn out on a serving platter, distribute the pheasant and chestnuts over the top, sprinkle with pomegranate seeds and serve as soon as possible, best while the pheasant is still warm.

 

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Darina Allen
By Darina Allen

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