Monday, January 18, 2010

Living without lettuce: where's the crunch?

It is possible to live without lettuce - iceberg or even baby mixed greens.  Not that long ago people actually went for months without a lettuce salad.  And they didn't die or even get scurvy.  For the next few days I will be talking about winter salads.  I know it is hard to go very long without something crisp and crunchy and tangy.  We are going to use our imaginations.  If you follow me on this blog you will see that "I" word a lot - IMAGINATION.  Yesterday when I saw the big fat carrot and the four somewhat tired and flabby raw beets in my refrigerator, I did not see a problem.  I saw an opportunity!  That is because I used my imagination.  (I need to make clear at this point that the tired and flabby beets were from our own garden and were not Featherstone Farm beets.  Featherstone beets are firm and perky, even in January.  That is because they have been stored in more optimal conditions than my personal beets.)

Anyway - back to the salad.  I took the raw beets and the fat carrot and I peeled them.  (If you don't have a really good vegetable peeler please put that on the top of your shopping list.)  Then I grated them, using the grating attachment of my modest food processor.  You could use a mandoline, an old fashioned box grater (largest holes) or even your hands and a sharp knife -  slicing into matchsticks.  The idea is to reduce these hard veggies into small toothsome pieces.  I also added some red onion - about 2 tablespoons grated)  Then the dressing - simple oil and vinegar.  This time I used about 2 T. canola oil and 4 T. raspberry vinegar.  Red wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar would be nice too. If you have no vinegar you could squeeze the juice from an orange (if you were using your IMAGINATION).  Then about a teaspoon of sugar and some salt and pepper to taste and voila you have it.  A crunchy, tangy, tasty, healthy salad.  And nary a lettuce leaf in sight.

We ate the salad with some polenta cooked with milk, butter and a little Parmesan.  And a drizzle of white truffle oil.  Caramelized onions on the side.  It was a full meal.  If you are feeling carnivorous, you could add some bits of meat to the polenta or just a piece of some kind of meat fish or poultry on the side.

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