Sometimes, in the dead of winter, I’d do just about anything for a perfectly ripe garden tomato.
There are so many reasons to be fond of winter, but the dearth of fresh, seasonal produce is not one of them. But all is not lost. At these times one must simply drop to their knees and thank the universe for LETTUCE.
Where I live in the Pacific Northwest, a variety of tasty organic lettuce is available all winter long. I love to toss salad greens with some dried fruit, toasted nuts or whatever else I have around already.
The basic formula is this: lettuce + fruit + nuts or seeds + cheese, all gently tossed with a quick vinaigrette I shake up in a jam jar. The result? A seasonal, healthy, unique and delicious salad for lunch or dinner.
My basic vinaigrette takes less than a minute to prepare; for a more unique salad I might add an ingredient or two. Into a small jam jar goes a half cup of olive oil, 3 tbsp of white wine vinegar or lemon juice, a small dab of Dijon mustard, a pinch of salt and a few grinds of black pepper. I toss in half a minced shallot if I have it on hand. Screw the lid on and shake it. Voilà.
Here are some of my favorite winter salad variations.
mixed greens and shredded napa cabbage + chopped apple + currants + spice pepitas + gorgonzola (use unfiltered apple cider vinegar for vinaigrette)
baby spinach + chopped preserved lemon + toasted walnuts + goat cheese (add a touch of honey to vinaigrette)
mixed greens and shredded fennel + dried cherries + toasted pine nuts + ricotta salata (add a pinch of Indian curry to vinaigrette)
butter lettuce + mango chunks + roasted peanuts + feta cheese (add a pinch of smoked paprika to vinaigrette)
mixed greens + Mandarin orange slices + toasted pecans + goat cheese (add chopped red onion to vinaigrette)
escarole + dried cranberries + toasted hazelnuts + stilton
arugula + chopped figs + toasted almond slices + goat cheese (use sherry viniager in vinaigrette)