Recipes for the season: A simple winter salad

The interesting thing about eating seasonally and locally is that once you start listening to your body, you realize you don’t really want vegetables only growing in Chile this time of year.

The bagged salads one often gets at restaurants now are rather tasteless and somehow feel unnatural. Not to mention the pale pink mealy tomatoes some restaurants still insist placing on the ubiquitous dinner side salad.

Just like root vegetables fit winter, so do the intensity of baby greens grown by Blue Moon Acres Farm in Buckingham. We buy these greens year-round but in winter they impart a spicy, complex flavor to salads, which stands up well to roasted beets and a sharp, soft cheese, like goat or feta.

It’s such a simple salad that I’m almost embarrassed to present it as a “recipe.”

It’s become one of my standards. In fact, I’m afraid that sooner or later some dinner guest will say, “Oh, we had this the last time we were here.” But people love it. Served with a nutty vinaigrette (courtesy of Mark Bittman, in How to Cook Everything) it is easy, presents beautifully, and even people who swear they hate beets manage to clean the plate, much to their surprise.

You can purchase the micro greens at Blue Moon Acres Farm (2287 Durham Rd.) on Tuesdays and Fridays from 10 am to 4 pm, or stop by None Such Farms Market nearby on Route 263 who regularly carry Blue Moon Acres’ greens.

Salad of Micro Greens, Roasted Beets and Cheese

Serves 6-8

INGREDIENTS

One 6 oz container, Micro Greens Sampler, from Blue Moon Acres
1 – 2 beets, roasted and peeled (can use red, orange, yellow beets – or a mixture!)
3 oz of soft cheese – goat or feta
Nutty Vinaigrette (see recipe below)

HOW TO

  1. Roasting beets. Preheat oven to 400°F. Scrub and clean beets, cutting off the root “tail” and the greens to one inch if need be. Wrap each beet completely in silver foil, place on baking sheet or roasting pan, and bake for 40 – 60 minutes. After 40 minutes, test doneness by inserting a thin knife into beets. If it moves easily in and out, beet is done. If not, give it 5 – 10 minutes and check again. Cooking time will vary by size of beet. Let beets cool to room temperature and refrigerate. This can be done ahead of time.
  2. Assembling the salad.
    • Unwrap individual beets and peel by rubbing skin off under running water. Slice thin, or julienne (nicer presentation).
    • Pull micro greens out of container, choosing different types, and sprinkle on salad plate.
    • Place beets over greens, then sprinkle crumbled cheese over all.
    • Drizzle vinaigrette over salad and serve immediately.

Nutty Vinaigrette

from How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman

Makes about 1 cup

You can use almost any nuts you like for this dressing; peeled ones are best

INGREDIENTS

½ cup almonds, pine nuts, pecans, or walnuts
1 small clove garlic, peeled
¼ cup sherry, balsamic, or good red wine vinegar, plus more if desired
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil

HOW TO

  1. Toast the nuts in a dry skillet over medium heat, shaking almost constantly, until fragrant. Place them in the container of a blender of small food processor along with the garlic and pulverize.
  2. Place the ground nuts and garlic in a bowl and add the vinegar, salt and pepper; stir. Add the oil a bit at a time. The mixture will become creamy and quite thick. Taste to make sure the acid balance pleases you and add more vinegar if you like; if the taste is good but the mixture is too thick, add warm water, a teaspoon at a time. This is best made fresh but will keep, refrigerated, for a day or so; bring back to room temperature before using.
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