Winter salads

This is one of those conflicting things about gardening in Austin: the seasons don’t always match what we have growing in the garden. I mean, why can’t cilantro be nice and grow in the summer when we want to use it with all those beautiful tomatoes and chiles in our salsas and ceviches? And why do salad greens grow best in the dead of winter when all we want are warm, hearty meals instead of cool salads? In the words of the great Kurt Vonnegut, “and so it goes.” So we adapt. And really, after a week of meaty, rich, warm stews and soups, suddenly a salad sounded really good. In typical CuisineXplorers fashion, I looked in the garden, the pantry, and the fridge to see what I could concoct. The result are two beautiful salads that we enjoyed over the weekend.

Beet, apple, and blue cheese salad on beet greens

1 large beet
1 crisp apple, I used Gala
Blue cheese crumbles, to taste. I used Bleu d’Auvergne
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and fresh ground pepper

Wash the beet well, scrubbing the top to remove all grit. Remove the greens and wash well. Boil the beet in salted water until just tender, about 10 minutes. I like to keep mine crisp, but if you prefer it softer you can boil longer. Let cool slightly, peel and slice. Core and slice the apple.Tear the greens into bite size pieces and toss in a bowl with a drizzle of lemon and oil. Place in individual bowls and top with beet, apple, and cheese. Drizzle with more lemon juice and oil, season with fresh ground pepper and sea salt (I used sel gris de I’lle de Noirmoutier, but then again, I am a salt geek…)

Spinach, grapefruit, and radish salad

1 Rio grapefruit
2 cups spinach
2 ribs celery, sliced thin
4 radishes, sliced thin
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and fresh ground pepper

Wash the spinach really well. I like to fill the sink with cold water     and let it “swim” for a while to draw out any critter and loosen the grit. Rinse well. Cut the grapefruit in sections, separating them from the membrane, and place in a bowl. Squeeze the membrane over the sections to extract as much juice as possible. Add radish and celery slices, drizzle with olive oil and toss. Season with salt and pepper. Serve on top of the spinach.

We ate this as a side dish to broccoli-rice casserole, made with broccoli from the garden and NO condensed cream of anything. I’ll post my recipe for this and another hearty veggie stew that has been making the rounds at the dinner table.

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