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Thursday, Jan. 3, 2019 12:01 am

Winter greens

Salad, to give your body a break

Ashley Meyer

Generally one thinks of salad as summer fare. Indeed, when the garden is bursting with produce and the tables at the farmers market are laden with rainbow-hued veggies, it’s easy to include them on the dinner table. However, this is the time of year when I simply crave salad. After weeks of rich, celebratory foods and buttery cookies lurking around every corner, my body practically demands greenery.

We’ve come a long way from the day when “salad” referred to a strange gelatinous concoction or a pile of shredded iceberg lettuce topped with Miracle Whip. Today a wide variety of greens are available in the supermarket year round, conveniently prewashed and ready to eat. In spite of all this convenience, only about one in 10 adults in the United States eat the recommended one cup serving of leafy greens per day. Regular consumption of dark green vegetables is thought to improve practically every aspect of one’s health. Studies suggest that the benefits of eating your greens includes reduced rate of cognitive decline, improved eye and skin health, and may prevent heart disease and several different types of cancer. And if you’ve eaten too many sugar cookies, eating a satisfying salad for dinner is a great way to get back on track.

Leftover proteins do double duty when they reappear later in the week as an elegant steak salad or a vibrant Asian-inspired chicken salad. If you’re short on time, a meal of over-easy eggs on top a pile of lightly dressed greens can be ready in less time that it takes to wait in line at the drive-thru. Top with a scattering of cooked bacon and a grating of parmesan cheese for a truly satisfying meal.

Mom’s steak salad

1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon dried tarragon
1 tablespoon finely minced shallot or red onion
¼ cup cider vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
salt and pepper to taste
5 ounces mixed greens or arugula (a small box)
1 pound steak of your choice, grilled, cooled and sliced thin
1 pound cooked fingerling potatoes
1 fennel bulb
2 tart apples, such as Jonathan or Pink Lady
½ cup chopped toasted walnuts
½ cup crumbled blue cheese

Combine the mayonnaise, dried tarragon, minced shallot, vinegar and sugar and mix well. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Thin with water as needed to achieve a pourable consistency.
Toss the greens with just enough of the dressing to lightly coat (do not overdress!). Mound the dressed greens in the center of a large platter or divide between 4 plates. Thinly slice the apples and fennel and arrange them on top of the greens, followed by the potatoes and steak, and finally the crumbled walnuts and blue cheese.

Asian-style chopped salad
¼ cup cider vinegar
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 clove minced garlic
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 tablespoon water
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup neutral oil, such as canola or avocado
One small head napa cabbage, chopped
2 cups baby spinach
1 large carrot, shredded
½ cup frozen peas, thawed
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
3-4 green onions, thinly sliced
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seed
8 ounces cooked shredded chicken (shrimp, salmon or pork loin also work well)
1 avocado, diced
½ cup crunchy chow mein noodles
To make the dressing combine the vinegar, ginger, garlic, sesame oil, brown sugar, water, salt and canola oil and mix well.

Toss the napa cabbage and baby spinach with just enough of the dressing to coat (do not overdress!). Mound the dressed greens onto plates or a large platter and arrange the sliced vegetables and chicken on top. Garnish with the crunchy noodles and chopped cilantro and serve.

Mushroom and radicchio salad
Top with a couple of over-easy eggs for a satisfying and protein-rich main course.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1.5 pounds crimini mushrooms, washed and quartered
2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme
½ red onion, sliced
½ cup sherry
1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
a pinch of sugar
salt and pepper to taste
1 bunch parsley, chopped
2 cups baby kale or arugula
1 head radicchio, sliced thin
½ cup toasted almonds, chopped
grated Parmesan to serve, optional

Heat the olive oil in a saute pan over medium high heat. Add the mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and cook until well browned. Deglaze with the sherry and continue to cook until sherry is almost evaporated. Add the sliced onion and a pinch of sugar and cook until softened and lightly browned. Remove from heat and add sherry vinegar and chopped parsley. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper if needed.
In a large mixing bowl toss the radicchio and baby kale with the sautéed mushroom mixture. Top with toasted nuts and Parmesan and serve.

Contact Ashley Meyer at Ashley@realcuisine.net.

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