After the excesses** of the recent long weekend here in Toronto, I felt the need for something more ascetic. I was craving something light, clean and (yes) green: a salad! And I knew that my salad had to contain apple.
I got this recipe from a cookbook I’ve had for years–a decade, almost–and from which I have never cooked
It’s not that I haven’t browsed through it on many occasions, earnestly searching for something that struck my fancy. It’s not that the recipes don’t all sound good, because they do. It’s not even that I don’t have dozens of sticky notes protruding from the pages, each one flagging a different recipe I’d like to try some day. It’s just that when I read through the instructions, I immediately think that I’d prefer someone else to prepare it for me. (“We know what you mean, Mum. We prefer to have someone else prepare our food for us, too. And that someone would be you.”)
Why is it that some cookbooks become our BFFs while others languish on the bookshelf, never invited to the party and never infiltrating the inner circle of most trusted, reliable, oft consulted and well-hugged volumes? I have cookbooks the pages of which fall out every time I pull them from the shelf, they’re so well-thumbed, and then others. . . like this one. Why?
Could it be that this particular tome, Everyday Greens by Annie Somerville, is a restaurant cookbook? That is, it contains recipes from an already popular restaurant, published after that restaurant became well established. Now, I don’t know about you, but when it comes to the (few) restaurant cookbooks I’ve purchased, there seems to be a recurrent pattern. It may be that I already love the resto (as in the case of Fresh here in Toronto), or I may have heard of the chef (as with Eric Tucker from Millennium in San Francisco) or the venue itself (such as Real Food Daily in LA).
I’m sure you’ve all likely done the same thing (no? You mean it’s just me?): for whatever reason, I might find myself enchanted by the idea of re-creating food from the book, and so buy it. And then I get it home and realize that even the simplest dish–maybe, a “Yin and Yang Salad with Peanut-Sesame Dressing” or a “Revival Rice Bowl”–requires hours of advance marinating, special sauces with 47 ingredients, or a piece of equipment–a cherry-pitter, pressure cooker, bamboo steamer basket, say–that has never found its way into my kitchen. Sure, when you’re running a professional operation, there are big vats of sauces, garnishes and other staples all mixed up long before the day even begins. But here at home, everything must be put together by a single pair of hands, one at a time.
I guess that’s why I liked this salad. Despite the need for a bit of advance prep (you have to roast the beets beforehand and, if you’re using homemade nut cheese, make it first), the salad comes together very quickly and easily. It combines the liver-loving properties of beets with equally healthful apples. Add to that the detoxifying properties of dandelion, and you’ve got one mega healthy plate of produce.
I did make a couple of changes to the original here by using dandelion instead of salad greens (which we didn’t have). But I think the bitterness of the greens offers a perfect foil for the softly caramelized beets and the crunchy-tart apple slices; it all comes together harmoniously topped with salty, smooth feta. The dressing is a sweet and tart affair that even uses part of the apple, blended, for thickness and flavor.
With its combination of crunchy raw greens and baked root vegetable, this salad effectively straddles the transition from summer to fall. And with that, it might help make my own transition to the cooler season a little less painful, too. And who knows? I might, one day, end up making something else from this cookbook.
** the term “excesses” being relative, of course. It used to mean drinking an entire bottle of champagne by myself. These days, it means eating two (ACD friendly, low glycemic) brownies in one weekend. I am such a rebel!
Salad Greens with Apples, Beets and Almond Feta (suitable for ACD Stage 2 and beyond)
adapted from Everyday Greens
Though it requires a bit of preparation beforehand, once the beets are done, this salad comes together very quickly. Feel free to switch up the greens for mesclun mix or other bitters such as arugula in place of the dandelion.
For the salad:
1 head romaine, washed. dried and torn into bite-sized pieces
half a bunch of dandelion (or other bitter) greens, washed, dried and torn into bite-sized pieces (omit any thick stems; you can save those for stock)
1 large crisp apple (I used Granny Smith)
For the Cider Vinaigrette
2 large beets, roasted, cooled, peeled and cut into wedges
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 batch of prepared Almond Feta, chilled and crumbled (or use your favorite flavorful cheese)
Place greens in a large bowl and set aside.
Cut the apple into quarters and remove the core. Reserve one quarter for the vinaigrette and slice the rest into thin slices; add the slices to the bowl with the greens.
Prepare the vinaigrette (see below). Toss the beets with about 1 Tbsp (15 ml) of the vinaigrette in a small bowl and set aside.
Pour the remaining vinaigrette over the greens and apple slices and toss to coat everything well. Separate the mixture onto individual plates; tuck the beets here and there between the leaves, then sprinkle the cheese over all. Serve immediately. Makes 4 servings.
For the Vinaigrette:
1/4 apple (from the apple in the salad, above), cored and chopped
2 Tbsp (30 ml) unfiltered apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp (15 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
5 drops plain stevia liquid, or 1 tsp agave nectar
1/4 tsp (1 ml) fine sea salt
3 Tbsp (45 ml) extra virgin olive oil, preferably organic
Place all ingredients in a blender or use a hand blender and puré until smooth. Use with the beets and salad, above.
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I absolutely know what you mean about restaurant cookbooks. There is a big draw to make something at home that people would be willing to pay for, but it is so.much.work. The Chicago Diner cookbook is very useable, but that may be because diner food tends to be simpler by design.
I’m not familiar with that cookbook. I suppose it doesn’t help that I have to make everything from scratch and can’t use anything prepared (like faux meats, cheese, etc).!
Though I’m usually pretty resistant to including fruit in savory dishes, this does sound fantastic! And I even have all of the ingredients on hand…. This may just be my lunch today!
Alisa - Frugal Foodie says
Mmm, that does look yummy! I am with you. I gave away all of the restaurant cookbooks I have reviewed because when I really look at the recipes, prep times, etc. they aren’t things I would even want to make at home!
What a gorgeous salad! And so worth the prep. I definitely have a few cookbooks I haven’t used at all–you’re inspiring me to get at ’em!
I am totally guilty of having cookbooks that I have never used too. Like you I have read through them and earmarked things I want to make and even drooled over some of them, but when it comes to actually making them? Not so much…where does my motivation go!? I have to take a lesson from you and pull one of them out (yes, there is more than one that I have never cooked out of!) and get cooking!
That dressing sounds fantastic–I am going to have to try it soon!
oh cookbooks, they always seem like such a good idea, but then with blogs and so many tasty things… something has to give! this looks delicious, and has me craving those roasted beets hanging out in my fridge 🙂
Keri - I Eat Trees says
Looks so fresh and lovely! I’d never owned a restaurant cookbook because flipping through the cookbook pages didn’t strike me quite like flipping through the menu. I did get the Chicago Diner book recently though…I haven’t touched it yet so we’ll see! 🙂
Johanna GGG says
sounds delicious – beets and apples seem such great salad mates – and I am with you on restaurant cookbooks – I cook from some of mine on special occasions – though I would make an exception for the moosewood cookbooks which have been well used in my kitchen
gfe--gluten free easily says
I go through cookbook purges every few years. Otherwise, I forget and keep going back through the same cookbooks I’ll never cook from. Same thing happens with recipes I clip from magazines or newspapers. Have to purge them. I ask myself, will I really ever make this? Not that many pass the test. That said, this salad looks divine. I think you make the best salads ever, Ricki. They always look so good! But some friends and I were talking about how salads are always so much more fun when others make them. 😉
What a great idea–I actually DO do that, go through the same cookbooks over and over! But I just don’t have the heart to get rid of them. And I have to agree, salads are MUCH more fun when someone else makes them! 😉
Vegan Epicurean says
Many of my cookbooks have never actually been used just flagged and put on a shelf. It makes me feel better to know that I am not the only one that does that. 😉
This salad reminds me of one my chef friend makes but his has goat cheese and walnuts. I love beets and apples so I know this must be good.
hope you had a nice long weekend,
Michelle @ Find Your Balance says
Sounds delicious! I have a similar pile of cookbooks that I never touch. It’s kind of nice to discover something new you’ve had for years though 🙂
I will be volunteering at the food fair, and I will most definitely be at the vegan baking panel that you are part of on Sunday night. I’ll make sure to say hello…it’ll be nice to meet you in person!
Oh my goodness! As soon as I get my Vitamix (or should I get a Blendtec?) I am making that almond feta cheese. This salad looks delish. I love beets in my salad. I am going to definitely whip up something with apples in it so I can join this awesome challenge! I just couldn’t get my minty on last month. But apples should be easy!
you know I’m loving the nut cheese!
jodye @ 'scend food says
I am definitely the same way about restaurant cookbooks; there are just too many elements to prepare in the majority of the recipes, so while I love the idea of making all of the wonderful looking dishes, I can never bring myself to spend the inordinate amount of time preparing them! This salad, though, does sound quite wonderful, and the almond feta if definitely something I look forward to trying. I have a friend who is thinking of going vegan, and told me yesterday that the hardest thing for her to give up would be feta cheese. Maybe she’ll taste the almond feta and change her mind!
I love that you use apple in the vinaigrette! This salad looks really good. And I totally know what you mean about restaurant cookbooks.