13 December 2010
A Simple Winter Salad
As I sipped Irish coffee and nibbled on a raspberry-filled chocolate, I would imagine myself in some unnamed European city of the past where the sights and sounds and situations were more gracious than those of my contemporary world of student loans, lurching buses and an especially annoying boss named John.
My circumstances have changed and I rarely enjoy such contemplative moments now. I have replaced my solitary rituals with new ones that involve simple meals cooked for my husband and simple things we do together.
Wisconsin was hit with an frigid blast of snow from the north over the weekend. The winds howled high in the trees and when I stepped out on the side porch at 4 p.m. on Saturday, the air was clean smelling and the gray sky was slowly turning blue.
Late Sunday the sun made a valiant effort to slip through the cloud cover, infusing our newly white world with a pale golden tint. These are the moments I treasure most: Small gifts from the natural world.
It was our reward for clearing and shoveling and plowing. So was our dinner!
Lately my husband has been making a sort of Belgian pot roast using a rich, dark oatmeal stout, not unlike the one TerryB made to fend off the wintry chill that hit Chicago as well as Northeast Wisconsin. I have searched for a salad counterpoint, first trying cole slaw with a dash of green pepper, then remembering this simple salad, a version of which we first tasted at a chef's sampling dinner a few years ago.
Very simple! Slice an apple, preferably Granny Smith (or Red Delicious in winter), sprinkle with blue cheese and roasted walnuts. I added dried pomegranate and a simple off-the-shelf gluten-free dressing. (The chef whose fare we sampled made a dressing from cider vinegar with a dash of mustard, as I recall.)
This simple winter salad adds a touch of tangy, earthy elegance to the hearty, rustic meals we prefer in winter. I'd serve it with pork chops and chicken Normandy, too.
Next time I'll use cranberries instead of pomegranates. And I'll go back to Granny Smith, because of the tart contrast to the earthy cheese.
We are moving toward the darkest and longest days of the year. This salad feels right on the palate.