Winter Salad & A Merry Christmas Eve

Merry Christmas Eve! Happy Holidays! Happy whenever you find yourself doing today! For me, it's "Happy Another-Excuse-To-Plan-A-Menu Day"! 

If you are looking to build a holiday menu that everyone can enjoy, regardless of dietary preferences, you know my struggle well: what is paleo, veganand still filling? Salad is the easy answer. But it's so hard to make salad feel "right" in the middle of winter. Tomatoes? Hard and flavorless. Cucumbers? Chilling. Butterhead lettuce, arugula, even baby spinach--just plain out of place. It's easier to pass by with gratins, mashes, and roasts. And don't get me wrong--I love anything au gratin- but some times it's nice to have a light dish on your holiday table, to balance out all of the traditional winter fare.

That very question brought me to this salad. (Now, before you say, "Salad is NOT filling," hear me out). This salad, with massaged lacinato kale, is stuffed with wintery goods that will fill you up: roasted delicata squash, toasted pepitas, and julienned daikon radish and golden beets, and sweet granny smith apples. It has crunch, a touch of sweetness, and a savory kick. And it fits right in on a crowded table of wintertime foods. And if you're still not content, I recommend adding some shaved Parmigiano Reggiano. 

Drizzled with a Creamy Balsamic vinaigrette infused with truffle oil, this salad breaks away from the heavy dishes we all know so well, with out feeling out of place. It's a piece of fresh in the midst of winter--often a much needed twist. Since this salad is made with hearty vegetables, it can be made several hours ahead of time, making your holiday meal less stressful! Just wait until the last minute to add the dressing. 

What new dish will you be trying this holiday season? How do you make sure everyone is jolly when they take their seat at the holiday table? 

Winter Salad

1 bunch lacinato kale

Dash salt

Drizzle extra virgin olive oil

3/4 cup daikon radish, peeled and julienned

3/4 cup golden beet, peeled and julienned

1 large granny smith apple, pitted and julienned

1/2 cup pepitas, raw

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup delicata squash, seeds removed and cubed

Drizzle of avocado oil

Creamy Balsamic-Truffle vinaigrette  (recipe below)

 

1. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Toss the cubed delicata squash in the avocado oil. Spread it out on a cookie sheet, and place in oven. Spread the pipetas out on a separate cookie sheet and place them in the oven. Bake the pepitas until toasted and fragrant. Sprinkle with salt. Bake the squash until golden, and soft all the way through. Remove from oven and set aside to cool completely. 

2. Remove the stems from the kale. Wash and dry the leaves, and then cut them into thin small pieces using a chef's knife. Place the shredded kale in a salad bowl, along with a drizzle of olive oil and a dash of salt. Using your hands, rub the olive oil into the leaves until they are bright green but not limp. 

3. Add the julienned daikon radish, golden beet, and apple to the salad bowl. Add the pepitas and  roasted squash. Toss the salad until ingredients are well distributed. Serve with balsamic vinaigrette. 

 

Creamy Balsamic-Truffle Vinaigrette

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon truffle infused olive oil

2 tablespoons dijon mustard 

Salt and pepper to taste

Optional: 1 tablespoon rosemary, fresh or dry

 

1. Whisk together all ingredients (or put them in a jar and shake your heart out). Store in airtight container.