Happy Thursday! This hearty winter salad is a pretty great compromise to any healthy resolutions you might have made a couple weeks ago. It’s got your servings of veg covered as well as a bit of bread and cheese (#balance) so you can feel virtuous about starting the new year off right, while not feeling entirely limited to green juices (but if you thrive on those, more power to ya). Particularly in the dark days of winter, I think we could all benefit from a little more colour in our meals on occasion: not only from the wide array of vitamins and minerals, but also to brighten our spirits because we still have a lot of winter ahead of us. Fortunately even winter produce provides an enticing colour spectrum, from red and yellow beets, orange-hued squashes, vividly purple cabbages, deep green brussels sprouts and kale. I think it’s good to find a balance between the bright, energizing foods as well as the simple home-y staples like oatmeal, rice bowls, and good bread.
I’ve ramped up my bread baking recently as a way to cope with the cold weather, nourish ourselves with something hearty, and focus on a hobby that gets me away from watching Netflix all day every day. Not that there’s anything wrong with the occasional tv marathon/couch potato afternoon, because sometimes a mindless break wrapped in 3 blankets is what we need. What I love about making sourdough though is that it requires me to be mindful without requiring much exertion, occupying my thoughts as I carefully feed my starter, weigh out the ingredients, and squish the dough between my fingers. I find the tactile nature of making bread very relaxing, few movements but each very deliberate, paying attention to how the dough reacts to being carefully stretched and folded. I also crave the quiet and unhurried pace of sourdough. It’s a nice reminder to just go slow and take it easy during these (often) dreary winter months.
warm winter salad with apple cider dressing (vegetarian)
serves 4 as a side
250 g sweet potato (about 1 medium)
salt and pepper
6 sage leaves
100 g sourdough torn into pieces (about 2 cups)
60 g goat cheese (about 1/4 cup)
100 g peeled chestnuts, chopped
1/2 head radicchio, sliced
100 g kale, torn (4 cups loosely packed)
1/2 bosc pear, sliced
3/4 cup apple cider
1 tablespoon shallot, minced
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1/4 teaspoon dijon mustard
salt and pepper
Preheat your oven to 350F convection (or 375 regular). Cut the sweet potato into medium chunks (about 3/4-1 inch) and add to a small baking dish. Add oil and a good pinch each of salt, pepper, and chili flakes, then bake for about 35-40 minutes until tender.
Once the potato is in the oven you can start the dressing. Add the apple cider and shallot to a small sauce pan over high heat. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer until reduced to 1/4 cup, then pour into a small jar. Add the olive oil, apple cider vinegar, dijon, salt, and pepper, screw on a lid and shake to combine.
Remove the kale leaves from the ribs, then tear roughly into pieces. Wash and dry the leaves and add to a large bowl. Add a couple spoonfuls of the dressing and work it into the kale with your hands (this will soften it so it’s perfect salad texture). Wipe out the pan you cooked the cider in, and heat a splash of oil over a medium heat. Fry the sage leaves for about a minute until slightly darker (but not brown), and set aside. Add the sourdough pieces to the pan and fry until golden. Add the sweet potato, sage, sourdough, goat cheese, chestnuts, radicchio, pear, and remaining dressing to the bowl, tossing to coat. Add an extra pinch of salt if needed. Serve warm.