With fresh-from-the-garden green salads and Mediterranean vegetables a distant memory of a warmer season, we crave something piquant, refreshing and raw to accompany our meals. I made three salads over the past two weeks, using organic produce stored in my fridge or newly acquired from a farmers’ market. Farmers’ markets have been great this winter. We discovered local maple syrup, and sampled new (to us) cheeses from nearby creameries. We’ve met so many organic farmers and we’re inspired, not to mention well fed.
The first salad combines shredded Brussels sprouts (mine were still on the stalk) with pecorino cheese and cider vinaigrette with maple syrup. The salad was so intense that a 1/3-cup serving seemed very generous. The second uses up a fraction of the way-too-many roots in my refrigerator by shredding carrots, kohlrabi and a couple of types of radishes and dousing them with rice wine vinaigrette tempered by home-canned mint syrup. This was adapted from a recent New York Times recipe.
The third is a classic from my mother: sliced mushrooms and gruyere-type cheese. I recall that she used a mustard vinaigrette and probably added some parsley. I used my own tarragon vinegar. During the summer, I cut back my tarragon plant periodically and plunk entire stalks in white wine vinegar. This produces not only amazing vinegar but also a terrific way of preserving tarragon for other uses (potato salad, cooked cucumbers, roast chicken, etc.)
Slivered Brussels Sprout Salad with Pecorino Cheese
10-12 medium Brussels sprouts
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp cider vinegar
½ tsp maple syrup
Salt and pepper
Remove any bruised or brown outer leaves from the Brussels sprouts. Cut them lengthwise into tiny shreds, removing the core. Combine the oil, vinegar and maple syrup and pour over the Brussels sprouts, mixing gently. Season with salt and pepper to taste and grated some Pecorino cheese on top. Serve slightly chilled or at room temperature.
Carrot, Radish and Kohlrabi Salad adapted from Martha Rose Schulman, NYT
1 kohlrabi (violet)
Radishes (I used one long red one and several round red ones for color but you could use daikon)
1/3 c rice vinegar
1 c water
1 tbsp mint syrup (homemade)
1 tsp honey
Alternate: 2 tsp sugar
Optional: chopped mint or cilantro
Scrub the vegetables, peeling the carrot if necessary. Grate on a box grater, preserving as much as possible of the colorful skin of the kohlrabi and radish. Lightly salt the vegetables and set aside to drain for about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, bring water, vinegar and honey/mint syrup or sugar to a boil. Set aside to cool. Squeeze moisture out of vegetables and pour the cooled liquid over them in a bowl, Store in the refrigerator for at least an hour or overnight. Drain and serve. Add optional chopped mint or cilantro.
Mushrooms and Gruyere Salad with Tarragon Vinaigrette
12-15 medium cremini or white button mushrooms
2 slices of Gruyere or similar hard, nutty cheese (to make a 20-24 1/8 x 1/8 x 1 inch batons)
1 tbsp olive oil
1-2 tsp tarragon vinegar
A few leaves of tarragon that was pickled in the vinegar
Brush the mushrooms to remove any dirt. Halve them crosswise, and then cut them lengthwise into batons about 1/8 inch thick. Slice the cheese into little batons about the same size or smaller. Mix the olive oil and vinegar, including tarragon leaves if you have them. Mix with the mushrooms and cheese and let sit for about 10 minutes. Add fresh black pepper to taste. Serve at room temperature.