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Winter Salads: Think Outside the Arugula Box

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Winter Salads on www.virginiawillis.com

Summer salads are easy. A couple of chops of straight-from-the-garden fresh vegetables and you’re good to go. Winter salads require slightly more thought, but it’s a misconception that winter salads must be made from ingredients that are out of season. Winter salads can be made of deliciously bitter greens, earthy root vegetables, and sweet winter squash. Cooked dried beans and whole grains add nutrition, flavor, and substance. Toasted nuts and seeds provide the crunch. And, don’t forget tart, vibrant citrus. Winter salads offer the opportunity to look at ingredients beyond  lettuce and change the way you think of what makes a salad. And, face it, how much stew, chile, and low-and-slow braised meat dishes can you eat? Banish those flavorless tomatoes and flaccid cucumbers harvested on the other side of the globe and give winter salads a try.

winter salads on www.virginiawillis.com

Helpful Hints for Winter Salads

1.Explore cold-weather greens in the raw like kale, collards, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts.

2. Be aggressive with dressing and vinaigrette qualities with flavor forward ingredients like ginger, garlic, and chili peppers.

3. Add seeds and spices for improved flavor and crunch.

4. Play with cooked whole grains and beans to give winter salads more depth and heft.

5. Citrus juice, zest, and segments are guaranteed to add brightness to nearly any winter salad.

6. Pair combinations of warm cooked and chilled raw ingredients for a variety of textures and temperatures.

7. Rehydrate dried fruits in warmed juice, vinegar, or dressing before adding to winter salads.

8. Add big, bold, bursts of flavor with intense cheeses such as Feta, Pecorino Romano, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and Ricotta Salata.

9. Blistering roasted root vegetables brings out their sweetness. Make sure to roast root vegetables in one layer in a hot oven so they will crisp and char, not steam.

10. Roast vegetables and dress them while warm to amp up their flavor.

Thanks for reading. Let me know your ideas for winter salads.

Bon Appétit Y’all! 
Virginia Willis

Roasted Vegetable Winter Salad

Serves 6
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time45 mins
Total Time1 hr
Course: Salad, slaw
Cuisine: American, healthy
Servings: 6
Author: Virginia Willis

Ingredients

  • 3 small beets peeled and diced
  • 4 to 6 small carrots peeled
  • 2 stalks celery ends trimmed and cut into 3-inch lengths
  • 1 sweet potato peeled and sliced
  • 1/2 cabbage cut into eighths
  • 2-3 tablespoons pure olive oil more if needed
  • Coarse kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1/2 pear cored and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed whole parsley leaves
  • 2-3 tablespoons sherry wine vinegar
  • Ricota Salata shaved for garnish

Instructions

  • Heat the oven to 400°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with a nonstick silicone baking mat. Place the beets at one end of the baking sheet (so as not to color the entire salad red.) Place the carrots, celery, sweet potato, and cabbage on the rest of the prepared baking sheet. Drizzle over the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle over the fennel seeds. Transfer to the oven and roast until the vegetables are blistered and tender, about 45 minutes. Remove to a rack to cool slightly. While warm, drizzle over the sherry vinegar. Add pear and parsley. Use a pair of tongs to toss and combine. Transfer to a serving dish and top with shaved Ricotta Salata. Taste and adjust for seasoning with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

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Virginia Willis

Georgia-born French-trained Chef Virginia Willis’ biography includes making chocolate chip cookies with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, foraging for berries in the Alaskan wilderness, harvesting capers in the shadow of a smoldering volcano in Sicily, and hunting for truffles in France. She is talent and chef-instructor for the digital streaming platform Food Network Kitchen. Her segments feature authentic and innovative Southern cooking. She was the celebrity chef at the Mansion at Churchill Downs for the 143rd running of the Kentucky Derby. Virginia has spoken at SXSW, cooked for the James Beard Foundation, and beguiled celebrities such as Bill Clinton, Morgan Freeman, and Jane Fonda with her cooking — but it all started in her grandmother’s country kitchen. Recently, her work has been inspired by her weight loss success story, Virginia has lost 65# and kept it off for over 1 1/2 years! “If a French-trained, Southern chef can do it, you can, too.” She is the author of Fresh Start; Secrets of the Southern Table; Lighten Up, Y’all; Bon Appétit, Y’all; Basic to Brilliant, Y’all; Okra; and Grits. Lighten Up, Y’all won a James Beard Foundation Award of Excellence in the Focus on Health Category. Lighten Up, Y’all as well as her first cookbook, Bon Appétit, Y’all, were finalists in the Best American Cookbook for the International Association of Cookbook Awards and were also named by the Georgia Center of the Book as “Books Georgians Should Read.” She is the former TV kitchen director for Martha Stewart Living, Bobby Flay, and Nathalie Dupree; has worked in Michelin-starred restaurants; and traveled the world producing food stories – from making cheese in California to escargot farming in France. She has appeared on Food Network’s Chopped, CBS This Morning, Fox Family and Friends, Martha Stewart Living, and as a judge on Throwdown with Bobby Flay. She’s been featured in the New York Times, the Washington Post, People Magazine, Eater, and Food52 and has contributed to Eating Well, GRLSQUASH, Culture, Garden & Gun, and Bon Appétit, and more. The Chicago Tribune praised her as one of “Seven Food Writers You Need to Know.” Her legion of fans loves her down-to-earth attitude, approachable spirit, and traveling exploits. Her culinary consulting company, Virginia Willis Culinary Enterprises, Inc specializes in content creation, recipe development, culinary editorial and production services, cookbook writing, media training, spokesperson and brand representation, and public speaking. Virginia is on the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch Blue Ribbon Task Force, the Atlanta Community Food Bank Advisory Board, as well as the Community Farmers Market Advisory Board. She is a food and hunger advocate for No Kid Hungry and a premier member of the No Kid Hungry Atlanta Society. She a member of The James Beard Foundation, Chef’s Collaborative, Georgia Organics, and Southern Foodways Alliance.

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