When the chilly air starts to hit, I think more about salads that contain warm elements. I like to combine savory roasted vegetables with sweet things like fruits. Although there are many different possibilities, I am going to share one which was inspired by a salad that I enjoyed when visiting Montreal last year. The chef who created it always uses what is in season, or given to him fresh that day, and that day fresh exotic mushrooms and pears were available. You may think that it sounds like an odd combination, pears and roasted mushrooms, but it was wonderful. The mushrooms were so flavorful, and the pears so sweet. They were combined with roasted leeks and crunchy toasted pecans then tossed in a sweet tart vinaigrette. I love the combination. It is something that most people have not had the chance to try, so I make it for occasions when I have people over for dinner and want to serve something special. It would be perfect with a holiday meal!
Many people think of slaw as a summer salad, but I believe that there are slaws for every season, depending on what type of vegetables you use in it. I recently made a root vegetable slaw with carrots, parsnips and rutabagas. You may not think of eating these veggies raw, but actually they are rather sweet and wonderful. I dressed it with a silky tahini lemon sauce and topped it off with sesame seeds; it was the perfect side for an autumn meal. I believe in thinking outside the box when it comes to using vegetables, and this was a nice switch off from the typical roasted or mashed potato.
Roasted yams are one of my favorite things. Although I enjoy them plain, they are also delicious in warm salads. I use it as a main dish because it contains edamame for protein. When I thought up the recipe, I wanted it to have lots of flavorful elements, so I added sweet cranberries, savory shallots, toasted pecans and a flavorful vinaigrette. I have served this to a few picky eaters, who were skeptical but once they had finished the salad they loved it! It is also a delicious protein packed side dish and would be wonderful with a holiday spread. Enjoy!