Sunday, April 7, 2013

Yummy Vegetable Salad with Verde Dressing

This recipe was adapted from one I read in Oprah magazine in the article, "The Man Who Changed Food", about Michael Pollan.  I have a confession:  I have not read the recent books by Michael Pollan.  They are now in my ipad reading "queue", but I was in love with the first book I read by him called "The Botany of Desire".  If you haven't done so, I recommend reading it.  But, I digress.
The magazine article intrigued me.  Mr. Pollan, who has written about food extensively, only recently came to cooking.  He is still learning, but he has developed some pretty interesting recipes, several of which were published in the current (April 2013) issue of the magazine.  I decided to try a couple of them.  Of course, because I am the cook I am, I put my own spin on things.  As I have written before:  I see recipes as guidelines and this is no exception.

The first I'll write about is an amazing salad.  In the magazine he calls it Vegetable Salad with Salsa Verde.  I changed the name because some people will automatically veer away from the idea of salsa on a salad.  Really, this is more like a viniagrette, so don't freak out.

olive oil
grapeseed oil (optional)
flat leaf parsley
brined capers (in a jar)
one lemon
walnut dijon mustard (or a similar mustard of your choice)
fresh salad greens (a variety is nice)
beets, 2 red and 2 golden
blackberries (optional)
feta cheese (optional)
blue cheese (optional)
french fried onions (optional)
toasted, unsweetened coconut (optional)

The dressing (vinaigrette):
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil (I used half olive and half grapeseed to lighten the flavor a bit)
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 Tablespoons fresh thyme, finely chopped
2 Tablespoons brined capers, rinsed well and drained, then chopped
zest of one lemon (finely zested with a plane)
1/4 tsp freshly grated black pepper
1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon walnut mustard (or use a good dijon)

Combine all the ingredients in a jar with a secure lid.  Shake well to emulsify and refrigerate until just before service.

Fresh greens, cut into bite-sized pieces depending on the greens.  I used a combo of arugula and baby chard, as well as some mixed spring greens from my farm box.

Roasted Vegetables:
baby carrots, or larger carrots, cut into long pieces.  Try to cut the carrots to approximately the same size.
Cauliflower, cut into large pieces for roasting
Beets (both red and golden, if you can get them), sliced into 1/4 inch lengthwise cross sections.
Leeks, thoroughly washed and cut into long sections

Heat oven to 350'.  All root vegetables need to be scrubbed with a vegetable brush prior to cutting.
Toss each type of vegetable, separately, into a bag.  Drizzle a bit of olive oil on the vegetables and toss gently to coat.  Spread the vegetables onto roasting pans, keeping each vegetable type separate on the pans.  Roast until slightly caramelized on the carrots and leeks, approximately 40 minutes or longer.  Cauliflower will begin to turn slightly golden on the edges.  Remove and allow to cool.

Before service:  place greens in a large bowl.  Emulsify dressing again and gently dress salad, being sure that the mixture is well-distributed on the greens.  Place the greens on a serving platter.
Distribute the roasted vegetables, one type at a time, over the greens.
Next, crumble bits of the blue cheese, then the feta, over the entire salad.
Distribute a small amount of the french onions and/or toasted coconut over the surface.
Finish with a handful of blackberries.
Note:  you can dress all the roasted vegetables, too, if you wish, but I found that dressing the greens was enough to flavor the entire dish.  The taste of the roasted vegetables is so good you don't need to add to them.  That is just my opinion, and your taste may dictate otherwise.

This salad is colorful, textural, and absolutely delicious!
Keep in mind that the cheese and berries are optional.  Well, really, all of it is!  Use the vegetables and add-ons of your choice.  I can tell you that this salad was served to a group of 10 with rave reviews by all.  The other surprise was that it the leftovers kept well to the next day.

I had some leftover roasted vegetables that I subsequently used on another, similar salad.  I also made enough of the dressing to have multiple uses by doubling the recipe.
Thyme, removed from the woody stem and slightly chopped

flat-leaf (Italian) parsley

The combination of olive and grapeseed oil,
into which the chopped capers have been added

a dollop (or for you measurers, one tablespoon) of 
walnut dijon mustard.
(If you have never tried this mustard, try to get some!  It is amazing!

Add the chopped garlic.


and lemon zest.  If you don't have a plane, such as this one,
mince the zest until it is very fine before adding to the mixture.
Emulsify by shaking.

Ugh!  To my great dismay I have accidentally deleted my gorgeous photo of the finished salad in its platter.  I apologize about this.  Please accept my apology and just know that it was gorgeous!  The next time (and there WILL be a next time) I make it I will add a photo.  I hope you will try it!

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