Happy New Year, my friend!
Since my last writing, I’ve gotten out my Thrive magazines, pulled up the Forks Over Knives website, thumbed through my Salad Samurai cookbook and many of my other favorite plant-based resources in search of the absolute best (read: unique, delicious and in-season) salads for the new year.
Winter salads have to get creative with grilled winter squash, subtle and sturdy fruits, and hearty grains. In the absence of vine-ripened tomatoes, tender berries, and many other fruits and vegetables that grow beyond the garden fence, we get a chance to explore beautiful foods that offer us important nutrients during these short winter days.
Keep in mind these 5 tips for a fantastic winter salad:
- Look for interesting grains. Each has their own flavor and texture indicating their best use. <Quinoa is a powerhouse protein, light and fluffy. Barley and Farro are dense, nutty and chewy. Bulgur and millet, light and with subtle flavor. Spelt and einkhorn can be interchanged with farro. Buckwheat and teff flours are superb for baking. Click here for more grain ideas and how to use them.>
- 40% grains:60% everything else. Don’t overload your bowl with grains. They should be simply the foundation to add bulk (and texture) and the rest of the ingredients will add flavor and interest.
- Choose in-season produce. A fruit or vegetable that travels thousands of miles to reach its destination store will be picked hugely underripe. Its flavor potential will never be able to catch up and will fall short of what it’d be if it was harvested ripe closer to your region.
- Texture, texture, texture. Combine crunch with chewy, juicy with dry. Consider adding broken up crackers, roasted seeds and nuts, and toasted ramen noodles in combination with the chew of roasted butternut squash or grilled apples. Pomegranate arils and sectioned citrus juice up pears, avocados, and other drier fruits.
- Always dress the salad before serving. But lightly. Adding a light splash of your dressing and working it through all the ingredients will begin to soften the salad greens (if any) and incorporate flavors before the first bite.
Years ago, when I was a new mom rocking for hours with my sweet babe-in-arms, I came across Gimmesomeoven, a veritable treasure trove of mostly vegetarian recipes — all spot-on and super easy to replicate at home. In fact, Ali is responsible for my family’s all-time favorite – and most kid-requested – salad. After browsing her recent salad posts, I whipped up the one below, an inspired combination of crisp and juicy fruit set off with a tang of lime and a pop of mint.
Easy Pomegranate Pear Winter Salad
Serves 4 as a side dish
- 2 pears (I used Green Anjou but any will do), cored and chopped
- 2 oranges, peeled and chopped
- 1 pomegranate
- juice of half a lime
- 6-8 fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
- (optional) honey to taste
To remove the pomegranate “seeds” or arils, first place a small bowl in the sink and have a wooden spoon (any large spoon will work) nearby. You will be heavily whacking so prepare for a red mess!
On a cutting board, cut the pomegranate in half. Taking one half of the fruit, hold it cut-side down in one hand above the bowl. With the wooden spoon in the other hand, give it a good whack. If no arils fall into your hand, you’ll have to to hit it harder. Kids love this part! Allow the juice and arils to fall into the bowl. Continue until most of the arils have come out – you can pick out the few remaining with your fingers. They’re so good, don’t leave any! Take the other half and do the same.
In a serving bowl, add the chopped pears and oranges, followed by the lime juice (and optional honey). Gently turn fruits to mix. Scatter the pomegranate arils throughout the fruit mix. Top with mint shreds.
Serve for breakfast alongside your favorite scones or for dinner with a healthy slice of quiche or frittata. Enjoy!
Do you do New Year’s resolutions? If so, I’d love to hear. <One of mine: to remember to invite my kids more often to cook with me. We always enjoy it, that is, if I can get into a good, slow mess.>
These sound like my kind of resolutions.
One of the best Instagram accounts for this time of year.