In one of my most recent classes, I pulled out a favorite winter salad recipe. I always love to share this one, and the class agreed! During the winter eating habits tend to shy away from hardy greens and in season produce for more fattier, sweeter, saltier options. Tis the season, right?
Truth be told, it took me a while to really understand the beauty behind some of the vegetation available during the cold fall to winter months. Kale, brussel sprouts, beet greens all chewy, bitter and earthy. Not the most popular of choice when it comes to a salad option. As I start to research and read about seasonal eating, there was a reason that these hardy greens really only shown during this time of year. They’re powerhouses of nutrients like iron, calcium, magnesium and vitamin A and C – all help to strength our immune system which is hardest hit during cold and flu season. Thanks Mother Nature for looking out!
But – they have a hard time appealing to our tastebuds. The texture can be chewy like a cow grinding down its cud. And the flavor can be bitter, and earthy (that’s a nice way of saying it taste like dirt!). Keep in mind two main pantry items can help with this. Salt and Acid. The salt and acid when sprinkled on these greens helps to tenderize and extract some of the bitterness within, helping to round out the flavor.
In this salad, there are players coming for your palette from all angles. We have the winter greens as our playing field. The pomegranate seeds bringing in a bright pop of citrus, parmesan and pancetta offering notes of umami and saltiness, with a the spiced pepita charging with hints of heat and spice. Not to mention the dressing of maple and tahini. Tahini is a creamy texture with nuttiness and the maple adding in some undertones of sweetness mellowing out the greens. All in all this is a salad to grace a holiday table or even a dinner party. What an enjoyable way to eat your greens!
Winter Green Salad with Pomegranates, Spiced Pepitas and Beets
- 1/2 bunch curly kale
- 1/2 pound brussel sprouts shredded
- 6 oz argula
- 1/4 cup pomegranates seeds
- 1 lb golden beets with greens
- 1/4 cup spiced pepitas
- 4 oz pancetta
- 1/4 cup shaved parmesan
- 1 shallot, sliced
- 2 Tablespoon chopped chives
- pinch of Maldon salt
Maple Tahini Dressing
- 1/4 cup tahini
- 3 Tablespoon white wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoon maple syrup
- pinch Aleppo pepper flakes or red pepper flakes
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 cups pepitas
- 1 teaspooon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground chili
- 1 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper
- 2 teaspoon lime juice
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- Set the oven rack in the center position. Preheat oven to 400°F. Wash and peel beets. Trim off the greens, chop and place in bowl for other greens to be added to. Cut into 1/2 to 3/4-inch thick wedges.In a medium-sized bowl toss together the beets, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Place on a foil-lined sheet pan. Roast until beets are fork-tender, about 25 to 30 minutes.
- Use a chef’s knife to cut out the ribs of the kale leaves. Chop the kale into small, bite-sized pieces. Sprinkle salt lightly over the kale and use your hands to “massage” the kale by lightly scrunching handfuls of kale in your hands. Continue massaging until the kale becomes darker in color and more fragrant. Transfer the kale to a medium serving bowl.
- Transfer the kale to a medium serving bowl.Chop off and discard the stem end of the Brussels sprouts and any discolored outer leaves. Either use your knife to slice the sprouts as thin as possible, or shred the sprouts in your food processor using the slicing disk. Add the sprouts to the bowl and use your fingers break up any clumps. Sprinkle a few pinches of salt over the bowl of greens and toss. Set aside.
- In a small sauce pan over medium high heat, cook the pancetta until crispy. Set aside on a plate with a paper towel.
- Peel beets, and slice. Taste a small sample and season accordingly with additional salt or pepper before adding to salad.
- In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the tahini, vinegar, maple syrup and red pepper flakes.
- Whisk in the water until the mixture is smooth and creamy. If dressing is too thick, add a bit more water and/or vinegar, to taste. Pour the dressing over the winter greens and mix well.
- Add the toasted pepitas, pancetta, roasted beets, chives, shallots, pomegranates seeds and parmesan shavings to the salad and toss. Taste, and add more Parmesan if desired. Serve immediately.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Mix all the spices together in a bowl. In a seperate bowl, toss the pepitas in lime juice, well coat. Then toss in spice mixture. Once coated, spread on a baking sheet and bake 5 minutes, or until lightly browned, shaking the pan once or twice. Serve.