With the hope to get healthy fresh on the mind, it can be challenging to diet in the winter. We hold on to our traditional practice of salad equals diet food but long for a hearty meal. In the colder months, it is nice to have a salad featuring grains to warm the body. Although there are many to choose from, wild rice seems to be a favorite. Or at least in Minnesota because afterall, it is widely available here. I have noticed that it is a top seller in the deli at the store, and so I thought I would share one of my wild rice salad recipes with you. It can be substantial enough for a main dish when protein is added (I would serve it with a tempeh cutlet, or mix in chicken style seitan, but if you prefer chicken or serving it alongside fish or meat that would work as well). I kept it fairly simple, but added a bit of sweet with cranberries, crunch with walnuts and savory with scallions. Since we now sell baby kale in the store, I added it for color. This salad would be perfect when serving company, or making a large batch and taking to lunch for the week.
Many people think of serving Brussels sprouts on their holiday table, but few think to serve them raw. The truth is, they are just as delicious raw in a slaw as cabbage is, and they can be a wonderful seasonal alternative to cabbage. Although many slaws are served with creamy mayonnaise based dressings, a light vinaigrette creates a nice variation! I recently made a shaved Brussels sprouts slaw with tart pomegranate seeds and toasted pecans in a citrus pomegranate vinaigrette which I decided needed to be shared as it would be perfect on a Holiday table. Besides this recipe being flavorful, festive and delicious, the Brussels sprouts retain more nutrients when served raw then cooked.
In the deli department, there are many customer favorites. But one that always stands out to me are the beet salads. If they are missing from the case, people always ask when they are going to be made again. I do not blame them, as beets are one of my favorites as well. Its lovely color, sweet flavor and nutritional density make it very desirable. One of my favorite ways to serve them is with citrus fruits, the flavors are perfect together. So, I decided to share with you one of my favorite winter salads featuring red and gold beets! It is a show stopper that I love to serve to guests.
With the hustle and bustle of the holidays, who has time for cooking, especially prep time? It’s nice to have some simple but delicious sides to serve with those sometimes intense main dishes. This recipe is a family favorite; fresh fennel salad is easy and tasty. Before I went vegan, I made the salad with simply fennel, pine nuts and parmesan. The pomegranate seeds were the alternative to the parmesan. It makes the salad vibrantly beautiful and adds a nice tart sweetness. This side acts as an art piece on the dinner table and gets guests attention. All this talk about fennel and pomegranate makes me crave our Christmas meal.
How to cut a pomegranate:
Cut pomegranate into quarters. In a medium size bowl, fill with water. Place one quarter of the pomegranate into water and slowly pull out seeds. Repeat with all quarters until all of the seeds are removed. Drain the water from the bowl.
While working in the deli, I often get asked by customers how to prepare quinoa. It is fairly easy, and cooks up fast. Once you get the hang of it, it is something that can be made often. The best part about it is it pairs well with just about any flavor. My favorite is combining it with citrus and crunchy nuts for added protein. I recently came up with a recipe perfect for this time of the year called golden quinoa. It has plenty of veggies in it and would be a perfect side for a piece of glazed tofu or fish.
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!