Winter Greens and Beets with Balsamic Vinaigrette

beet salad Lynda BalslevMarinated Beets, Arugula, Spinach, Pistachios, Feta, Mint

Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean you can’t have a salad. In fact, winter is a great time to eat a bowl of healthy greens – chock full of vitamins, nutrients and fiber, a sure-fire way to keep the doctor away. While summer salads are often light and ethereal, winter salads have heft, laden with all sorts of goodies like nuts, cheese, and dried fruit.

winter greens

Winter Greens and Baby Beets with Balsamic Vinaigrette

This recipe is brimming with baby kale, spinach, radicchio, and chard, sprinkled with nuts and seeds, and sweetened with roasted beets. A rich and potent vinaigrette naps the leaves, taming and binding the bitter, nutty, earthy flavors. I make a dressing, with rich, sweet and viscous balsamic, and slightly thicken it with Dijon mustard, so the dressing is sure to cling to the leaves. Mix and match your favorite greens from what’s available in the farmers market. Be sure to include a combination of bitter and mild flavors as well as a variety of color and texture. For this salad I used spinach, chard, baby kale, radicchio, and arugula, and flowering broccolini as a garnish.

Vinaigrette:
1/4 cup aged balsamic vinegar
1 small garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Salad:
1/2 pound baby or small beets, roasted, peeled, cooled
8 cups assorted greens
1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese or feta (optional)
2 tablespoons chopped unsalted pistachios, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoon pepitas

Whisk the vinegar, garlic, mustard, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Add the oil in a steady stream, whisking constantly to emulsify.

Cut the beets into quarters or halves, depending on the size. Place the greens in a large bowl. Add half of the dressing and toss to thoroughly coat. Scatter the beets, pistachios, and pepitas over the salad. Drizzle with the remaining dressing to taste.

Shrimp and Feta Salad

Shrimp and Feta Salad

~ Mixed Greens, Shrimp, Feta, Tomatoes, Cured Olives ~

Shrimp and feta cheese make a perfect couple. The sharp salty cheese is a perfect complement to the briny sweet shrimp. I like to combine these two friends in rice or orzo dishes. I also enjoy baking them in a gratin with tomatoes and olives, drizzled with ouzo – which was my original intention for dinner tonight. However, time got the best of me, and for a super quick fix I tossed the shrimp in this salad instead. What would have been a simple green salad graciously accommodated sautéed shrimp and chunks of feta, transforming itself into a light and fresh main course. As for the ouzo, it was hardly bypassed, but turned into an apertif to launch our dinner. A very acceptable compromise, indeed.

Shrimp and Feta Salad

I also added red corn kernels to the salad, because I had them – and they looked so pretty with the shrimp. Serves 4.

For the vinaigrette:
1 small garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Whisk all of the ingredients except the oil together in a small bowl. Slowly whisk in the olive oil in a steady stream to emulsify. Set aside.

For the salad:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
16 medium shrimp, shelled with tails in tact, deveined
8 cups mixed greens, such as red oak, bibb, arugula
1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved if large
1/2 red pepper, seeded, membranes removed, thinly sliced
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
16 black olives (brine cured or kalamata)
6 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
Italian parsley leaves

Heat the oil and red pepper flakes in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add shrimp in one layer, without overcrowding the pan. Cook, turning once, until bright pink on both sides, about 1 minute each side. Transfer shrimp to a plate. Cool.
Combine the greens, tomatoes, red pepper and onion together in a large bowl. Drizzle 1/4 cup vinaigrette over the greens and toss to coat. Divide among plates. Scatter olives and feta over the salad. Arrange shrimp on top. Drizzle with additional vinaigrette to taste. Garnish with parsley. Serve with bread or pita.

Winter Greens Salad with Cranberries and Pistachios

Winter Greens Salad with Cranberries and Pistachios

As much as I like a warming winter stew, I also appreciate a fresh winter salad. In fact, they both go well together.  The crisp bitter greens are a nice palate cleanser and contrast to a rich, meaty stew. I made this salad the other night with a mix of seasonal greens: mizuna, arugula, beet greens and chicory. Feel free to tinker with the combination, depending on what’s in the fridge and market, but keep in mind a variety of leaves and colors for a pretty presentation. Dried cranberries and pistachios add chewy, crunchy substance to the greens as well as a touch of sweetness and salt. I happened to spot baby rainbow carrots at the farmers market that day, and tossed a few in for extra color and texture. Don’t throw out the carrot tops. If they are bright and fresh, they can join the greens.

Winter Greens Salad with Cranberries and Pistachios
Serves 4-6

8 cups mixed winter greens, such as frisée, arugula, mustard, beet greens, chicory, mizuna
2-3 baby carrots, green tops reserved, peeled and thinly sliced on the diagonal
1 handful fresh flat leaf parsley and/or cilantro sprigs
2 tablespoons dried cranberries
2 tablespoons shelled pistachios

Apple Cider Vinaigrette (recipe below)

Wash and dry the salad leaves. Place in a large bowl. Coarsely chop carrot greens if using. Scatter carrot greens,  carrots, parsley, cranberries and pistachios over the leaves. Pour dressing over salad and toss to combine. Serve immediately.

Apple Cider Vinaigrette:
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 small shallot, minced
1 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

Prepare vinaigrette. Combine vinegar, shallot, mustard, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Whisk in oil in a steady stream to emulsify.

Fall Market Salad: Figs and Greens with Honey Vinaigrette

Fall Market

This autumnal salad is insired by the fall palette on display at Sundays Farmer’s Market.

Figs and Greens with Blue Cheese and Walnuts
Serves 6

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons honey
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 small garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup (80 ml.) extra-virgin olive oil

8 cups mixed greens such as arugula, oak leaf, mâche
1 cup purple basil leaves
One medium fennel bulb with fronds, tips and end removed, thinly sliced
6 purple figs, quartered
1/2 cup halved walnuts
6 oz. (175 g.) blue cheese such as Roquefort or Forme d’Ambert, cut in 1″ pieces

Whisk red wine vinegar, honey, mustard, garlic, salt and pepper together in a small bowl.  Slowly whisk in olive oil in steady stream to emulsify.

Combine greens, basil and fennel in a large bowl.  Pour half the vinaigrette over, tossing with hands to combine well.  Arrange greens on serving plates.  Top with figs, walnuts and blue cheese.  Drizzle with remaining vinaigrette to taste.  Serve with baguette or pain paysan.