November 25, 2010

Salad Days: Butter Crunch Salad

I know I know – it’s getting cold outside and we’re supposed to be turning to hearty soups and stews in the kitchen. And I love root vegetables – really I do – so the abundance of all those gnarly misshapen potatoes, turnips, parsnips and yams makes me want to whip out the roasting pan and turn up the oven.

But all that hunkering down needs to be balanced, and there’s no better way than with a salad that’s filled with all things green. Really bright and dazzling, with a lemony dressing that highlights every leaf and shimmers. When I want to feel light-filled, and well, light, after too much hibernation food, this salad is what I crave.

Butter Crunch Salad
serves six

For salad:
1 head butter (Boston) lettuce, washed and torn into bite sized pieces
1 fennel bulb, trimmed, cored and sliced
2-3 celery stalks, leaves included, diced
1 Granny Smith apple
1 cup sunflower sprouts
1 ripe avocado (optional)*

For dressing:
2 tbsp Champagne vinegar
2 tbsp Meyer lemon juice, divided
Grated lemon zest from two Meyer lemons (use regular lemons if Meyer isn't available)
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp grainy mustard
½ tsp salt
Lots of freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup olive oil

*Part of the beauty of this salad is its "super crunch".  To maintain that consistency, skip the avocado.
1. Make dressing first. Whisk to combine vinegar, 1 tbsp lemon juice, lemon zest, honey, mustard, salt and pepper. Slowly add oil until combined. Set aside.

2. In a large bowl combine lettuce, fennel and celery. Halve, core and dice apple and place in a small bowl; toss with remaining lemon juice. Peel and dice avocado and gently toss with apple and juice. Place in bowl with lettuce. Roughly chop the sunflower sprouts and add to the lettuce.

Be sure to include the celery leaves

Tart Granny Smith apples add both crunch and zestiness to the salad

Hydroponic sunflower sprouts - you can't get any fresher

3. Whisk the dressing one last time, pour over the salad, toss gently and enjoy. Your stomach will be happy and you can spring for dessert - or a second helping of roasted potatoes - guilt-free.