Fresh-air markets, booths and stalls stretching for blocks and blocks, wooden tables piled high with newly-picked fruits and vegetables. Luscious juice-sweet fruits, all round-body shapes and colors. Rustic root or bright green vegetables some with the earth still clinging to them. Farmers in aprons, their hands, soil-worn and calloused, paring off samples for us to taste. And we held out our hands and we tasted, and we bought what we couldn’t resist. But we’d made some kind of cosmic mistake! We had no kitchen to take our booty to, no salad bowl, no wooden tongs. No aprons of our own. So it happened that everywhere we went, my longing for brilliant color tossed in a bowl grew. We had some nice salads while away, but they weren’t the salads of home. And the salads of home are the foods I miss most of all when we’re away.
So here, for you (and for me) brilliant color in a bowl. (and between us, so delicious it’s startling!)
Once again, as is usually the case with salads around here, a list of ingredients but no amounts. I’ll give some rough guidelines, but you know how you like your salads from home, so no one will be as good a judge as you …
Brilliant Winter Green Salad with Pomegranate, Apple & Almonds
Baby Spinach – or Arugula (which do you prefer, mild and green, or slightly bitter? Or maybe a mix of the two.)
Apple, cored and sliced
Pomegranate seeds (see a previous post for the most ingenious way to remove these wonderfully tart & crunchy little seeds)
Basil - leaves laid out on top of one another, rolled tight like a cigar and sliced thinly
Slivered Almonds, toasted brown
Shallot, sliced thinly and sauteed to a toasty brown in a bit of oil
Soft, mild goat cheese – Optional
Vinaigrette (see below)
Thinly slice the shallot and drop it into a small medium-hot skillet to which you’ve added a small amount of oil. Stir occasionally until browned. Remove to a paper towel.
Toast the almonds – in a 350° oven for perhaps 15 minutes. Check frequently. (The last bit of browning goes very quickly.) About the last 5 minutes you might (might!) want to place the shallots in the oven along with the almonds to dry and crisp them a bit more.
Remove the seeds from the pomegranate. (See previous post link above. You’ll also find another delicious salad there.)
Toss all ingredients into a bowl (reserving a little of the seeds, nuts and shallots for sprinkling on top.) Toss with a little vinaigrette. Taste to see if amply dressed. Drizzle more as desired. Sprinkle bits of brilliance on top.
Would you like me to taste it for you and tell you why it’s so good?
Even this time of year, most markets will still have fresh crisp baby spinach leaves. These leaves taste mild and green and like Health itself. (Arugula, a little or a lot, but only for those who like the mildly bitter. I do!) Crisp sweet-tart apple, toasted almonds tasting of the hearth, threads of fresh basil winding throughout (these you nearly taste in your nose), crunchy smoky bittersweet bits of shallot, bursting tart seeds full of juice…and then…if you like this sort of thing…mild and creamy, exquisite white cheese of goat.
I . love . this . salad !