Hearty winter greens and chicory are spread on the marble slab topped cabinet that sits beneath the south facing kitchen window. I’m flipping through last year’s library copies of Dwell, Martha Stewart Living, and O Magazine. A renovated Brooklyn brownstone plus heirloom apples and reviews of Wild (currently on my reading pile but am still smack in the middle of Day of Honey. Where do the hours go?). Between pages and bites of sweet bitter greens, I’m also snapping photos of radicchio, fennel fronds, and aging pomegranates.
You can probably guess where I’m going. More salad talk.
To be clear, I’m not usually this nauseatingly healthy by eating a daily salad for breakfast. Salad just happens to be around lately. You know how it is when you have a drawer of radicchio, frisee, spinach, kale, pomegranates, lemons, mint, and parsley threatening to wilt under your nose lest you make haste and find a way to properly slice, dress, and toss them in a bowl with a bit of other leftovers.
So another day passes with a crisp and perky salad that I need to tell you about. Hear me out though. This salad is the sort to part cloud draped days with bursts of summer sun. It’s true. I’ve seen it happen. One minute the sky is a set of heavy gray drapes and the next, blood orange, pomegranate, mint, and fennel shine through.
It’s so good that in the hierarchy of morning, this salad comes before the often sought after chocolate chip cookies dunked in coffee snack. New year, new cravings. Nutrient dense dishes highlighting iron, calcium, Vitamins A and C, potassium, protein, phosphorous. What can I say? Purity has little to do with this habit, since there will always be cookies later.
As titled, the recipe comes from a longing for a burst of summer amidst these cold but nonetheless stark and chipper winter days. I’ll leave you with photos of the variation I made today. To see my TV clip on Mass Appeal, click over to A Sunny Winter’s Day Salad.
Happy Salad Days! Um, yeah. I promise, my salad craze won’t last forever…scratch that, even if it lasts, I promise to change it up a little more.
A Sunny Winter’s Day Salad
makes 4 to 6 servings
For the honey-mustard dressing:
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar or fresh squeezed lemon juice
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons honey
1 garlic clove, finely minced
freshly ground black pepper
For the salad:
1/2 bunch Tuscan kale or spinach leaves (washed, dried, stems removed, and chopped into thin ribbons)
1/2 small head frisee, core removed, cut into thin ribbons
1/2 small head radicchio, tough outer leaves and core removed, chopped into thin ribbons
1 small fennel bulb, feathery stalks and core removed, chopped into half-moon slivers
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
1/2 cup toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped
1 cup cooked quinoa or quinoa pasta
1 cup cooked chickpeas
1 pomegranate (about 1/2 cup seeds)
1 blood orange
To make the dressing: combine all ingredients in an empty pint-size jar with a lid, cover tightly, and shake until the dressing is silky smooth (or whisk all ingredients together in a bowl); set aside.
Toss the prepared kale, frisee, radicchio, fennel, and mint together in a large salad bowl. Add 1/2 the dressing and gently rub the dressing into the greens. Next add the walnuts, quinoa or quinoa pasta, and chickpeas. Toss all the ingredients using your hands or with a wooden spoon, making sure that ll the leaves are evenly coated. If the salad seems dry, add an extra tablespoon of dressing at a time. For a heartier salad, feel free to bump up the quinoa and chickpea ratio.
To remove seeds from the pomegranate, cut it in half horizontally and smash the fruit onto a plate, cut side down. Most of the seeds will release from the skin. Use a spoon to remove the remaining ones. Add seeds to the salad and toss again.
Cut the top and bottom off the orange. Cut away strips of peel from end to end with a small paring knife, taking care to remove the peel all the way down to the bright flesh. Slice the oranges into 1/4-inch pinwheels. Arrange them on top of the salad, garnish with extra chopped mint, and serve.