Did you ever see the movie ‘Willy Wonka’? Do you remember the scene when the contestants and their accompanying parent made it through the madcap start of their journey to arrive in the Wonka inner sanctum with the chocolate river, edible foliage and Oompa Loompas? Willy Wonka told them they could eat anything they chose and most dove in as though they’d been on a hunger strike before coming.
Augustus Gloop, the rotund, gluttonous German boy, shoved the candy edibles in his mouth so spastically it was uncomfortable to watch. It seemed to expose some deep-seated inner issue. Though not quite as ferocious, that is how I am with salad once the New Year arrives. I don’t embarrass myself in front of fellow diners but am ravenous for salad. But for winter salad. There is something digital about the end of December, leaving me crawling figuratively on hands and knees, from the Land of Sweets into a healthier food phase. It’s not even conscious, and it’s not about trying to lose weight or get healthier (which is a great side effect); it’s a bit like having been lost in a desert, emerging parched and desperate for water. Only it’s greens I seek.
I am currently obsessed with a particular winter salad. Cold weather baby greens adorned with slices of red onion, Seckel pears and pomegranate seeds with a drizzle of Apple Cider Vinaigrette. The variety of heartier greens are loaded with flavor and visual presence; arugula, baby red chard, and spinach. The young varieties of these greens are soft and dense with nutrition as well. The pomegranate (full of antioxidants) gives some sweetness but it’s really their crunch which I love. The onions add a spice and full flavor. The diminutive Seckel pears also contribute sweetness with crunch. I love everything about it; the unkempt look of it, the smell, the flavors, its variety and balance. Because it’s made with cold weather greens it slips naturally into our daily seasonally-inspired meals. (Kids love it too!)
Pomegranate and Pear Winter Salad with Apple Cider Vinaigrette
Ingredients for 1 serving of Salad (side salad size):
- 1 cup Mixed Baby Greens: Spinach , red chard, green chard, arugula*,rinsed and drained
- 2 tablespoons Pomegranate seeds
- 2 tablespoons Red Onion , (see below for cutting instructions)
- ½ Seckel pear , seeded and sliced vertically
Ingredients for Apple Cider Vinaigrette:
- ¼ cup Apple Cider Vinegar
- 1 teaspoon Apple Juice
- ¼-1/2 cup quality Olive Oil
- Salt and Pepper to taste
Instructions for the Apple Cider Vinaigrette:
- In a jar with a lid, combine apple cider vinegar, apple juice, and ¼ cup olive oil. Seal jar and shake vigorously to combine. Taste the dressing and adjust with more oil as needed. Salt and pepper to taste. Note: Generally the proportions of vinegar to oil in this type of dressing are 1 portion vinegar to 2 portions oil. I love more even portions so the recipe starts there and you can add more oil to change the flavor if you prefer. Apple cider vinegar, especially mixed with apple juice don’t tend to be as strong as other vinegars to me.
Instructions to assemble Winter Salad:
- Cut a 1/4 inch thick slice from the middle section of a medium red onion and then cut the slice into ¾ inch long pieces. Can also be chopped if preferred.
- Place greens on the plate to be served. Layer onion segments, pear slices and pomegranate seeds on top. Drizzle very lightly with Apple Cider Vinaigrette. If making a larger portion, the salad can be tossed with the dressing and served if easier.
*Organic Girl brand makes a wonderful greens mix called ‘Super Greens’. It comes pre-packaged, is washed three times and is always fresh in my experience.
In the spirit of a delicious and healthy start to the year I’m sharing some more recipes that might be of interest. To be clear, it has to taste good for me to be interested. I’m as keen on healthy eating as the next girl but not unless it’s a visual and flavorful celebration!
SOUPS and SALADS
SIDES and DESSERT
WATER, WATER, WATER!
We hear it all the time ‘Drink More Water!’ but do you? Living at altitude we especially notice when we don’t hydrate adequately. One trick to make it easier is to infuse your water with herbs, fruits and/or vegetables. In addition to Mint Water which I make all the time in the summer, I found a fabulous post about Infusing Coconut Water on Fuss Free Cooking. Coconut Water is super hydrating, and who could pass up these gorgeous infusions?!
For more delicious suggestions, check out my Pinterest Board ‘Healthy Goodness’ for no-compromise, beautiful food with big flavor!