It may be the start of a new year, but we are knee-deep in winter in the northeast. During the colder months, we tend to gravitate toward warm and filling stews, casseroles, baked pasta dishes and roasted meats -- meals that seem heavy in the warmer months but are just right when the temperature dips below freezing and it's dark hours before dinnertime.
I like to lighten the winter plate with salad. Yes, that's right, salad. Not your run-of-the-mill iceberg or romaine, though. I'm talking about superfood salads, made with richly colored fruits and vegetables and bursting with flavor and nutrition. Not only do these dishes offer a crisp, fresh contrast to the meal, but the nutritional aspects are also nothing to sneeze at.
While there's no official definition of a superfood, you've probably heard that superfoods contain high levels of vitamins and minerals and are a source of antioxidants, powerful tools in fighting the inflammation that is the root of many illnesses. But, wait, there's more good news: It's easy to swap out your boring lettuce and mushy apples. Just look for darker-colored versions of your favorites: Think blue, purple, dark green, and orange when you hit the produce aisle or winter farmer's market.
Here are recipes for a few of my favorite "superfood salads" to get you started.
Casablanca Carrot Salad
1 pound carrots, shredded
2 large scallions, sliced
½ cup golden or regular raisins
2 T toasted sesame seeds
Scant ½ cup canola or other neutral-tasting oil
2 T red wine vinegar
1 t Dijon mustard
Minced or pressed garlic (or garlic paste),
¼ t salt
1/8 t pepper
1 t paprika
1 t ground cumin
1 t ground coriander
½ t cinnamon
Combine shredded carrots, sliced scallions, raisins, and sesame seeds in a large bowl.
Combine dressing ingredients in a 1-cup measuring cup or small bowl, and whisk until combined. Pour dressing over carrot salad, a little at a time, and toss to combine. Continue to add dressing until the salad is dressed to your liking. You might have a little extra dressing. Taste the salad, and add more salt to taste. Serve immediately, or cover and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
10 oz. kale (I prefer lacinato kale or baby kale), bite-size pieces with stems removed
1 cup thinly sliced radishes
½ cup roasted, salted pepitas
½ cup shaved Manchego cheese (use your vegetable peeler for this)
Juice of 2 limes (about ¼ cup)
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup canola oil
¼ cup agave nectar
1 scallion, chopped
Combine kale and radishes in a large bowl. Toss with some of the dressing and garnish the salad with the pepitas and cheese. Combine the dressing ingredients in a blender or immersion blender cup. Puree and add salt and pepper to taste.
Use to dress the kale salad right before serving.
The above recipe is based on one found at wegmans.com.Sesame-Garlic Broccoli Salad
1 t red wine vinegar
½ t kosher salt
1 large head broccoli, cut into bite-sized florets
3 to 4 T olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 t cumin seeds
1 t dark sesame oil
Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
Optional: toasted sesame seeds
Stir together vinegar and salt in a large bowl. Add broccoli and toss to combine.
Heat olive oil in a small skillet. Add garlic and cumin seeds and stir until fragrant, 30 seconds or so. Remove from heat and stir in sesame oil and crushed red pepper flakes. Pour mixture over broccoli and toss well to combine. Let sit for at least one hour. Then cover and refrigerate until serving. Add more vinegar or salt if you'd like, and garnish with sesame seeds.
The above recipe is based on one found in The New York Times.
Sunshine Fruit Salad
2 cups pineapple, cut into bite-size pieces
4 large navel oranges, supremed (peeled with segments cut away from membranes)
2 large grapefruit, supremed
Garnishes: Pomegranate seeds and/or toasted coconut
Combine citrus fruits in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate. Before serving, top with pomegranate seeds and/or coconut.
Winter Farmer's Markets in Massachusetts
Farmer's markets aren't just for summer! Get delicious, fresh food and support your local farmers by stopping by markets over the winter, when the fun and food move indoors.
-*- Boston Public Market, 100 Hanover St., Boston: Indoor year-round marketplace featuring food grown, produced, and caught in New England. Also offers family and children's programming at The Kitchen. Monday-Saturday 8 a.m. - 8 p.m.; Sunday 10 a.m. - 8 p.m. bostonpublicmarket.org
-*- Canal District Farmers' Market, Crompton Place, Worcester: The outdoor market moves indoors during the winter. Saturdays, 9 a.m.-noon. canaldistrictfarmersmarket.com
-*- Natick Farmers Market, Common Street Spiritual Center, Natick: The outdoor market moves indoors during the winter. Saturdays, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. natickfarmersmarket.com
-*- Original Easton Farmers Market, Saturdays 10 a.m.-2 p.m. easton.ma.us/boards_and_committees/agricultural_commission/click_here.php
-*- Downtown Pittsfield Winter Farmers Market at the Boys and Girls Club Lighthouse, 2nd Saturday of every month. Fresh produce, pasture-raised meats, eggs, cheese, bread, baked goods, wine, and coffee. farmersmarketpittsfield.org/
-*- Pawtucket (RI) Wintertime Farmers Market, Saturdays, 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. farmfresh.org/food/farmersmarkets_details.php?market=29
-*- Woonsocket (RI) Farmers Market, Tuesdays 3 p.m. - 6 p.m. farmfresh.org/food/farmersmarkets_details.php?market=23