Shopping before the holidays, it's good to avoid the seasonal one for them, one for me gift-buying trap. But a salad is a gift you can give yourself or gift wrap for those we love -- this year, let's give salads with abandon!
But let's save the staid old every-day salads for another time, those are the socks and the screwdriver sets of gifts, appreciated but fast forgotten. Instead, let's imagine simple but splendid salads, perfectly dressed greens and a sprinkle of festive salad savories, as bright and enticing as the beribboned boxes beneath the tree. No shaking the salads!
It worked for me, a gift not soon forgotten. It was November not December, and we were shopping for a birthday not Christmas. But there we were on a Friday night, hungry for supper but foraging the aisles of the Target store, on the hunt for an Ugly Doll and a Zu Zu Pet to fill a birthday wish list. Don't know what these hot kids' toys are? Don't worry, it doesn't matter, we were shopping for gifts, just like so many of us are now in these weeks before Christmas.
Home finally, and famished, we devoured the stew from the stove. Then I made the salads, slowing down the meal, sipping a glass of wine as I worked, taking the time to gently dress the dandelion greens and to arrange the apple slices, creating plates of beauty. Suddenly the busy-ness business vanished. What a gift.
May I suggest the gift of a salad? You're so welcome. I just knew you'd love it.
RECIPE for SIMPLE DANDELION SALAD
Time to table: 15 minutes
Serves 4, easily divided or multiplied
Dandelion greens or other salad greens
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard or another good mustard
1 tablespoon good vinegar, champagne, white wine, something gentle
1 tablespoon good olive oil, something fruity perhaps
Blue cheese crumbles
Good salt such as fleur de sel
GREENS Wash the greens. Run through a salad spinner, then pat dry between layers of paper towels while mixing the dressing.
DRESSING In a large bowl, mix the mustard and salt with a fork, then mix in the vinegar until it's smooth. Drizzle in the oil, whisking it in with the fork, until a light and almost fluffy dressing forms. Taste and season to taste, more salt probably, a little pepper, perhaps.
COMBINE With your hands, mix a handful of the greens into the dressing until each leaf is covered, then transfer to a colander to drain a bit. Repeat as needed.
MAKE A MASTERPIECE Carefully arrange the greens on four large plates. Sprinkle the greens with blue cheese, a few pecans, a few apple slices. Sprinkle with a few grains of the good salt.
ALANNA's TIPS & KITCHEN NOTES
This is a minimalist salad, more dessert than meal, yet big enough, satisfying enough, for a light meal. Try one with just a few sprinkles of blue cheese, just a few nuts, I was surprised at how little it took to be completely satiated. Besides, calorie-wise, those savories add up quickly. Another gift to ourselves? The gift of moderation during a season of excess.
~ Simple Arugula Salad ~
~ Celery, Date & Walnut Salad ~
~ Celery & Apple Salad ~
~ Watercress, Clementine & Blue Cheese Salad ~
~ more green salad recipes ~
from A Veggie Venture
FAVORITE WINTER FRUIT SALAD RECIPES
~ Apple Yogurt Salad ~
~ Winter Fruit Salad ~
~ Holiday Fruit Parfait with Yogurt, Cranberries, Applesauce, Pineapple & Kiwi ~
~ more salad recipes ~
from Kitchen Parade, my food column