Monday, February 7, 2011

Winter Salads

At this time of year, in order to keep myself sane, I need to work to find things that I like about winter. Some of those things are fires on cold nights, citrus, skiing, and winter salads. In fact, I might like winter salads better than summer salads, and it's really a relief that something is better in the winter than in the summer. I would say that the lack of bugs is another thing that's better in the winter, but there are currently stinkbugs in my house, so that one no longer applies.

Call me crazy, but winter salads tend to have a crunch, a bitterness, and a heartiness that's missing in the more delicate (dare I say wimpier) summer salads. I find them more interesting than salads made from wilty little green leaves because they have so much more character and personality. They're not always easy to get along with, but it's worth making the effort. 

After the holidays I really need to take a break from cookies and creamy things, and these flavor-packed salads get me wanting to eat salads, as opposed to eating them because I think I should because I'm a fatty. I recommend that you give these salads a try--their peppery bite just might add some needed brightness to your gray days. They work for me.

Radicchio Salad with Green Olives
(By Molly Watson of The Dinner Files)

Serves 2-4 
  • 1 head radicchio
  • 18 green olives
  • 1 teeny glove garlic
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice or sherry vinegar
  • A pinch of sugar
  • Salt to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Freshly grated Parmesan for garnish (optional)

Trim radicchio and cut or tear into bite-size pieces, and place in a large bowl. Mince the olives and garlic into a paste and mix with the lemon juice or vinegar, and the sugar, salt, and pepper. (I actually do all of this in a little food processor, and I don't add pepper because radicchio leaves are so peppery.)

Toss the radicchio with the dressing, and divide amongst the serving bowls. Top with Parmesan if you like. (I actually find that it's not necessary.)

Endive Salad with Walnuts
(By Molly Watson, of The Dinner Files)
Makes 4-6 Servings
  • 4 heads Belgian endive
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 3 tablespoons walnut oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice, cider vinegar, or white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon whole grain mustard
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Toast the walnuts in a toaster oven or a 350 degree oven. Trim the ends of the endives, and chop or slice them into bite-sized pieces.

In a large bowl, whisk together the oil, lemon juice or vinegar, and the mustards. Add salt and pepper to taste (I actually find that pepper is not necessary.) Add the endives and toss until thoroughly coated. Divide the salad into serving bowls and top with the toasted walnuts.

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