salad is one of the best reflections of the season’s bounty. In thiscollection of recipes, each season is represented, from winter throughautumn. Winter salads are composed of greens with earthier flavors,like escarole and curly endive, whereas spring and summer salads are lighter and include flowers and more tender greens such as butter and oak leaf lettuce and young arugula.
Nuts make these salads special and extraordinarily tasty and healthful as they add their flavors,
textures, and considerable health benefits. Serve these salads as a beginning or an end to a meal or even as a light main course.
Millet with Saffron and Walnuts
Millet, an ancient, toothsome grain, was considered sacred in China as far back as 4000 B.C., where it was eaten and fermented into wine. In India, millet was used to make flat-bread thousands of years ago, and millet grew with pistachios and other plants in the hanging gardens
of Babylon. There are many varieties of millet—supposedly even crabgrass is a relative, and teff, the grain used to make the fluffy Ethiopian bread called injera, is another variety. Millet has a delicate flavor, making it a perfect backdrop for spices, herbs, and walnuts, as here. This is ideal as a vegetarian main course, or it can be served alongside steamed or grilled meat or fish. Take it
along on a picnic, too, for a tasty change. This is lovely with a lightly chilled Beaujolais.
1 cup (200 g) millet
½ teaspoon saffron threads, crushed using a mortar and pestle
2 fresh bay leaves or dried imported bay leaves
1 6-inch-long rosemary branch
1 large bunch of chives ½ cup (5 g) cilantro leaves ½ cup (50 g) walnuts, toasted and nely chopped
Fine sea salt
½ cup (125 ml) yogurt
Note: Toasting the millet brings out its flavor. A plus to this tiny grain is that it contains no gluten and can be substituted in any recipe calling for rice.
1. In a large skillet over high heat, toast the millet until it begins to pop,1 to 2 minutes. Transfer the millet to a medium saucepan. Add 2½ cups (625 ml) water, the saffron, bay leaves, and rosemary, and bring to a boil, covered. Decrease the heat to medium-low and cook, covered, until the liquid is absorbed, about 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature.
2. Mince the chives and the cilantro.
3. Place the millet in a medium bowl and fluff it with a fork. Stir in the
cilantro, chives, and walnuts. Season with salt to taste, remove the bay
leaves and rosemary branch, and serve, with the yogurt alongside.
Watercress and Beet Salad with Almonds
This salad bounces around the palate the way winter sun bounces off snow. It is bright and vivid in both color and flavor, and every time I serve it, murmurs of delight fill the room. Serve this during winter and into spring, when watercress is fleshy and green, and beets are filled with deep sugar.
Generous ½ cup (95 g) almonds, lightly toasted, or 24 green almonds
1 medium or 2 small beets
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup (80 ml) extra virgin olive oil
2 shallots, sliced paper-thin
6 cups watercress sprigs
Note: If you can still get watercress in early summer, sprinkle the salad with the rawgreen almonds available then instead of mature almonds—green almonds are tender and white, and they have an elusive almond flavor and aroma. They are available from www.greenalmonds.com. This salad with its deep green and lusty dark red colors is also great for Christmas dinner.Serve a lightly chilled white wine such as a Gaillac from Domaine Peyres Roses.
1. Coarsely chop the toasted almonds. Or, if using raw, green almonds, crack the outer shell and peel off the inner golden skin to reveal the tender young almond. Reserve.
2. Bring 3 cups water to a boil in the bottom of a steamer. Add the beets to the steamer and steam until they are tender through, 30 to 40 minutes. When the beets are cool enough to handle, peel and cut them into small dice. Reserve.
3. In a large bowl, whisk the vinegar with salt and pepper to taste until the salt dissolves. Slowly whisk in the olive oil until the mixture is emulsified. Stir in the shallots and season to taste.
4. Place 2 tablespoons of the dressing in a small bowl. Add the diced beet and toss so all the pieces are coated thoroughly with dressing.Reserve.
5. Add the watercress to the remaining dressing in the large bowl, toss gently but thoroughly so the watercress leaves are coated with the dressing, and then add the almonds. Toss again and divide among six plates, making sure the almonds are arranged so they can be seen.Sprinkle equal amounts of the beets atop the salad and serve immediately.
Edgy Greens with Roquefort and Hazelnuts
Johanne Killeen and George Germon of Al Forno and Tini restaurants in Providence, Rhode Island, have a lively interest in food and life, which shows in this robust and satisfying salad. What makes this salad special is the combination of intense flavors and textures, from the creamy saltiness of the Roquefort to the nuttiness of toasted hazelnuts echoed in the hazelnut oil, and finally the cacophony of flavors from the edgy greens and endive.
I use the term edgy greens instead of bitter greens because calling greens bitter isn’t really fair. The word bitter is off-putting. In fact, “bitter” greens are those with taste—and a certain edge.
This salad calls for a Chardonnay without much oak, such as one from Domaine Mont d’Hortes.
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar ½ teaspoon ne sea salt
1 small egg yolk (optional)
1 shallot, sliced paper-thin
2 tablespoons hazelnut oil
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup (40 g) hazelnuts, lightly toasted and nely ground
10 cups (270 g) edgy greens, such as radicchio, dandelion greens,and curly endive, washed and torn into small pieces
2 Belgian endives, trimmed and cut into thin lengthwise slices
6 ounces (180 g) Roquefort cheese, at room temperature Freshly ground black pepper
Note: The vinaigrette contains a rawegg yolk. If you prefer, you mayomit this from the recipe. The vinaigrette will not be as creamy without it, but it will be tasty.
1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the vinegars, salt, and egg yolk if using. Whisk in the sliced shallot, then slowly add the oils, whisking constantly, until the mixture is emulsified. Whisk in the ground hazelnuts, which will further thicken the vinaigrette.
2. Place the greens and the endives in a large bowl. Add the dressing and toss thoroughly until all the leaves are coated. Evenly divide the salad among six salad plates. Crumble equal amounts of the Roquefort over each salad, then season generously with black pepper. Serve immediately.
Pine Nuts and Red Peppers
Just the name of this dish makes me want to sit down at table, fork in hand, ready to tuck in. I love red peppers just about any way, though grilled and dressed with extra virgin olive oil is one of my favorite ways to enjoy them. Here they’re dressed up with feta cheese and pine nuts, and they make a fine, satisfying first course, an accompaniment to grilled meat, fish, or poultry, a sandwich filling…you name it.
Serve this with a lively red wine, such as a Fronton from Château la Colombière in southwest France.
2 pounds (1 kg/4 large) red bell peppers, roasted (Chapter Salads),
peeled, and seeded
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2½ ounces (75 g) feta cheese
1 cup (8 g) flat-leaf parsley leaves, gently packed
¼ cup (35 g) pine nuts, lightly toasted
Note: Look for pine nuts from Italy, which are slender and torpedo shaped, rather than those from China, which are flat and almost triangular, as the flavor and texture of the former are far superior. Also, when buying feta cheese, buy it in a single piece if you can. Turkish and Greek fetas, made from sheep’s milk, are the best. There are several ways to roast a pepper; Chapter Salads.
1. Be sure the peppers are thoroughly cleaned and there are no seeds hiding in them anywhere. Cut the flesh into ¼-inch (.6-cm) wide strips. Place the strips in a bowl, toss with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, and reserve.
2. Place the feta into a small bowl and drizzle with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Gently mix the oil into the feta with your fingers or a fork, crumbling the feta as you mix, but not mashing it. Reserve.
3. Just before you plan to serve the peppers, mince the parsley, add it to the peppers, and toss until the peppers and parsley are thoroughly combined. Transfer the peppers to four salad plates. Arrange an equal amount of the feta on top of each portion, then sprinkle the pine nuts, which should be nice and golden, over all. Serve with fresh bread or crackers.