Sunday, March 16, 2014

Roasted Beet and Butternut Salad with Fennel and Greens

 Peel and dice a butternut squash.  Or, buy the already prepped kind at the market.  Toss with slivered shallots, minced garlic, diced fennel bulb, your favorite savory herbs (I think I used thyme, sage, mint, maybe something else.  I was pulling from unlabeled baggies in my fridge), sea salt or kosher salt and pepper, and a tiny bit of olive oil.  Put in a small pan and roast at 400F for about 45 minutes, or until browning at the edges.

Separately, peel and dice a beetroot, setting aside the beet greens for later.  Toss the beets with a tiny bit of oil, salt and pepper.  Roast alongside but in a separate pan from the squash--or the beets will discolor the squash.  Also, I found that the beets roasted more quickly than the squash.

Remove from the oven, loosen from the pan while hot (or it'll stick like mad and the shape of the pieces will be lost), and let cool.

Julienne the beet greens, kale, and spinach.  (That means slice it into little ribbony bits.)  For greater fennel flavor, sliver additional fennel bulb, and add the feathery fennel fronds from the top of the bulb.  Toss all the ingredients together in a large bowl and add a handful of dried cranberries. An additional tiny drizzle of oil (hazelnut would be yummy) adds richness and more depth of flavor; a pinch of fresh orange or lemon zest will bring brightness.

Optional additions:  toasted pecans or pine nuts, shredded cooked chicken, fresh pomegranate arils.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Greek Salad with Steak

Make the dressing first so the flavors have a chance to marry before being introduced to the salad.  Measurements are not given, start conservative with a pinch or so, taste and adjust to your palate.

Good quality Olive Oil (usually the most expensive you can buy)
Red Wine that you like to drink

Usually the ratio is 1.5 parts oil to 1 part wine but recipes vary from 2:1 to 1:1.

If you are using the whole recipe immediately, fresh garlic adds a nice bite but it will continue to flavor the dressing for as long it stands and might overpower the flavor in any leftovers.  I like to use roasted and dried garlic.  Do not use garlic salt or garlic-flavored anything, garlic granules are fine if the ingredients are simply garlic.

Since I can't tolerate raw onion (bah! humbug! I want my onion!) I didn't put any in the salad itself.  I did however use dried onion flakes in the dressing.  Other flavor agents I used were dried oregano, dried basil, and the contents of one or more teabags Traditional Medicinals Pregnancy Tea (you could use dried peppermint instead).  Celtic Sea Salt and ground black pepper rounded out the dressing.  Shake to combine.

For the salad itself, I used a "power greens" bagged salad of baby spinach, baby kale, and baby red chard, chopped slightly.  Then I added diced and seeded cucumber, diced grape tomato (or diced and seeded if you use larger roma tomatoes), sliced black olives, and crumbled feta cheese.  For people not me who can eat onions, add thinly sliced red onion.

Slice cold cooked steak (mine was leftover from last night's dinner) across the grain. 

To assemble, pour a tablespoon of dressing into a large mixing bowl (seriously, this is plenty of dressing for three dinner salads or up to six side salads!), add all the ingredients except the steak on top of the dressing.  Using tongs, or for best results, your own two hands, toss the contents of the bowl until well coated with dressing.  Add the steak and repeat.  The two step process helps to mix the salad fully before the larger meat pieces throw off the weight distribution, which would make the salad not come together as well.

Serve with saffron rice, lemon-garlic roasted potatoes, or toasted pita points.