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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