INGREDIENTS – for a single salad or use the Sherry-Shallot Vinaigrette in Salad Success container
1 minced shallot
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 heads Belgian endive, halved lengthwise, cored, and very thinly sliced (about 2 1/2 cups)
3 small fennel bulbs, halved lengthwise, cored, and very thinly sliced (about 3 cups)
1 large Fuji apple, halved lengthwise, cored, and very thinly sliced (about 2 1/2 cups)

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Whisk together shallot, mustard, vinegar, salt, and pepper in a wood, or glass salad bowl. While constantly whisking, add oil by pouring in a thin stream down the side of the bowl. Whisk until all oil is incorporated. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired.

Add endive, fennel, and apple slices to the vinaigrette and toss to coat. Taste again and adjust seasoning as desired. Serve.

Courtesy from Chowhound, Recipe of the Day, 2/3/2010

little-red-coatIn October, I found myself with my little daughter routing through the racks at Goodwill.  Her mission was to put together a Halloween costume, mine was to keep myself occupied.  Then I saw it, waving to me in all its redness.  Not just a little red coat, but a little red Pendleton stroller coat needing a new home.  Fifteen dollars later and the little red coat was mine.

Halloween came and went and finally during Christmas break, I was able to hem the sleeves of my beautiful coat and give it to the cleaners.  To my surprise, the cleaning bill was larger the cost of my little red coat but still was cheaper than buying it on Ebay (watch out for Ebay, often the prices start high – even for used clothing).  Finally, I brought my little red coat home from the cleaners and now on cold grey windy days, I am rather dashing and smiling wearing my little red coat.

I am always amaze how people can give up classical, beautifully constructed clothing that never show age and are always in style.  But I must remember the old adage, one person’s treasure is another person’s trash.  Thank you whoever you are, for my little red coat.

Now there is no segue to the next subject – Roasted Root Vegetable and Wheat Berry Salad except that it makes a wonderful side dish or meal on wintery days.  I was intrigued by David Lebowitz’s  recipe, tried it out, and have made some very necessary changes.  Most important, you must soften the wheat berry before cooking, either by soaking it overnight, soaking it for two hours in warm water or cooking it forever.  I cooked mine for 1 hour and that did not soften the berries enough.  Secondly, I did not like roasting the beets at 425 – they came out burnt and still uncooked.  My advice on beets, is to chop them, and microwave for 15 – 20 minutes, then add them to the salad.  Lastly, his salad was a bit bland and David used too much salt for my taste – we have a family member on a salt restricted diet. Instead of salt, add a sherry – shallot vinaigrette, some feta or gorgonzola cheese, and if you aren’t a vegetarian, several slices of steak. Presto, a fabulous meal.  And of course, amazingly cheap especially if you buy the wheat berries in the bulk section of the grocery store (I got mine at Whole Foods for $0.99 a pound).

Roasted Root Vegetable and Wheat Berry Salad wheatberry-salad
Six to Eight Servings
The wheat berries will take more salt that you might think, so salt the water generously that you boil them in. If you taste it, it should approximate sea water. And any assortment of firm-fleshed root vegetables will do (or butternut squash), but they should be all about the same size when diced.
This salad is open to lots of variations and interpretations.

INGREDIENTS

1 1/2 cup (300 g) wheat berries or farro
one bay leaf

2 pounds (1kg) assorted root vegetables; carrots, rutabagas, butternut squash, celery root, parsnips, and salsify, peeled and cut into thumbnail-sized cubes
1 large red onion, peeled and diced
1/3 cup (80 ml) plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
10 or so branches of fresh thyme
salt and freshly-ground black pepper
1/2 cup (60 g) dried cranberries or cherries, coarsely chopped

DIRCTIONS
Preheat the oven to 425ºF (220ºC).

1. Bring about 2 quarts (2l) of well-salted water to a boil, then add the wheat berries and bay leaf. Cook until tender, but still chewy. Depending on the variety, they’ll take between 40-60 minutes to cook.

2. While the wheat berries are cooking, toss the diced vegetables on a baking sheet with the onion and 2 tablespoons of olive oil and thyme, seasoning with salt and pepper.

3. Roast the vegetables in the bottom third of the oven, stirring once midway during baking, for 20 minutes, or until cooked through and browned on the outside.

4. Once the wheat berries are cooked, drain them well, plucking out the bay leaf. Transfer the wheat berries to a bowl and mix in 1/3 cup (80 ml) of olive oil and the dried fruits, stirring well. Taste, seasoning with more salt if necessary

5. Stir in the root vegetables (I don’t mind the thyme branches in there, but you can remove them if you want) and do a final check for seasoning and add more salt, a few grinds of black pepper, and additional olive oil, if desired.  Add a shallot vinaigrette (3 spoonfuls of olive oil, one spoonful of sherry or balsamic vinegar, ½ spoonful of French Dijon mustard, dash of salt and pepper, one finely chopped clove of garlic, and whisk well)

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Storage: Can be made up to three days in advance, and refrigerated. Let come to room temperature before serving.

Here are some possible additions to add to the finished salad:

Microwaved beets

Toasted and coarsely chopped pecans, hazelnuts, or walnuts

Diced dried apricots in place of the cranberries or cherries

Cubes of feta or bleu cheese strewn over the top

A big squeeze of fresh lemon or tangerine juice, or some zest

Sautéed mushrooms tossed in with the root vegetables

Wilted greens, cooked with garlic, coarsely chopped

A generous handful of spicy arugula or flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped

Green Scallions

Steak slices

Thanks you David for this recipe – recipe provided courtesy of David Lebovitz

During the later part of the fall and into the winter, local area beets are readily available.  They are very easy to grow and stay crisp in a refrigerator for months.  I always love their sparkling colors and crispy taste.  This recipe guarantees that beets will be a big hit with you and your family.  You can cook the beets ahead of time. If you want to boil the beets, I suggest cooking them in the microwave (10 minutes on high with a microwavable lid and ½ cup of water on the bottom of the container) , otherwise cooking beets takes about one hour.  For this recipe the beets can be boiled  (one hour  – cover with a lid) or even better, roasted for a more complex taste.

INGREDIENTS

5-6 medium size beets

Olive oil

3 hard boiled eggs – sliced or chopped

Blue cheese dressing made in the SaladSuccess container but replace blue cheese with  gorgonzola cheese

¼ cup chopped walnuts –  optional

1 apple such as Fuji, peeled and chopped (optional)

Lettuce to line the salad bowl – mesclun, Boston or Romaine

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Wash beets, scrub skins and remove greens (use for stir fry.  Place beets in a baking dish, and drizzle olive oil on the beets.  Toss the beets to cover all sides with the olive oil.  Bake until a knife can easily cut the beets, usually for 45 – 60.

Line a bowl or a platter with salad greens.  Slice beets and place on top of greens. Add eggs, walnuts and apples.  Pour dressing over salad.

Many users of  the SaladSuccess shaker have been asking for salad recipes to go along with the dressing,  I guess we all get tired of lettuce and a few wedges of tomatoes, cucumber slices and carrots.  Once of my favorite salads is Belgium endive salad, which is simple, and elegant.  Around this time of year, I get cravings for endives (my husband hates them, which is great since they are expensive and he won’t touch them) and have endive salad marathons at lunch time.  Make sure that you use Reggiano Parmesan cheese – it intensifies the flavors of the endives with the vinaigrette.

INGREDIENTS

Belgium endives – one or two (endive lovers) per person.  Don’t count the kids, it is an acquired taste due to the bitterness of the endives.

Reggiano Parmesan – about 10 beautiful long slices

Sherry & Shallots vinaigrette

DIRECTIONS

First chop off the thick, hardcore end of the endive.

I like to rough chop the endives so that they make little curls.  That way it is easier for the dressing and parmesan to get mixed with the vinaigrette.  However for a more elegant look, you could peel the leaves of endives.

Decorate with the cheese.

When ready to serve, shake the sherry & shallot dressing in the SaladSuccess shaker and pour over the salad.

tomato-salad-721I’m a Jersey girl, and to me, summer eating is about freestone peaches, Silver Queen corn, and tomatoes.  The worth of any New Jersey homeowner is in the size and bounty of her tomato plants.  No one worth their salt would ever buy a tomato.  And if you went to someone’s house to socialize, you would always bring a lovely assortment of your finest tomatoes.  I remember my mom and dad constantly watering, tying the stems, and blowing some incredibly white powdery toxic poison on those plants.  Our family’s honor was tied into those plants, and no drought, plague of beetles, or pestilence, would dare attack our plants.

So when I moved out to California, I picked up where Dad and Mom left off.  Every year I would buy a minimum of twelve tomato plants at the farmers market and try to produce a crop worthy of my past.  The first year the snails got to them, which astonished me since there are no snails in New Jersey.  Next several years were acceptable but the little strip of land I used to grow them was turned into a shady walk way.  The following four years followed a pattern.  I’d plant early in the spring, nature my little plants thru July;  get excited about their growth and buds, only to be ruined by a fungus attack.

I tried planting early in February, using plastic tubular teepees.  I’d fill the tubes of the tepee with water and let the sun heat the plants by day, and insulate them during the cool nights..  My sister-in-law, a master gardener in Denver, Colorado, swore by these tepees and even sent me pictures of her bountiful harvest.  February came and went, along with March, April and my enthusiasm and hope plummeted.  The tepees, that looked so straight and erect in the ads, wouldn’t hold up and were constantly collapsing on the plants.  The plants were still alive, but ugly and spindly, and the plastic was acting as a snail magnet, with massive collections of snail poop inside the costly tepees’ water tubes.  I retired my teepes in the form of a present to  my sister-in-law.  Needless to say, I didn’t include a picture of my harvest.

The last disaster, to the tune of five hundred dollars, was my watering system.  Every May, in anticipation of summer vacation, I would go buy watering timers.  I’d spend days adjusting my timers so that not one of my precious plants would suffer during my absence.  I bought the best batteries, I tested each timer, and I would wake up at five am to give them the final adjustment.  By June the timers were perfect, and a magnificent synchronization of water works was creating green harmony in my gardens.

Three weeks later upon our return, disaster.  Either the majority of timers died the minute our car pulled out of the driveway for the Great Adventure, or else they went ballistic spewing water all day and night.By the time we returned, the garden looked like the Mojave Dessert, the running water was turned off, and a little yellow card from the Water Department was firmly affixed on our door handle expressing their displeasure with our wanton water usage.  To add insult to injury, not only did I have to replace plants and trees, I’d also have to dig up five hundred dollars to pay my water bill and fines.

But last year I declared war, for this was to be the year of the Great Tomato Harvest. I dry farmed the plants, thus forcing their roots to grow strong and avoid mold. No snails would dare get on my plants since I generously sprinkled around the plants with sawdust.  And I found a new sunny place by planting them in my front yard.

The outcome was rewarding.  My plants looked beautiful and healthy and were laden with fruit.  And every night for  5 months, we all sat down to enjoy the family summer favorite –Insalata Caprese or as we call it, Tomato Lovers Salad.

Tomato Lovers Salad

Vinaigrette – Use the SaladSuccess vinaigrette formula.

Platter

Sliced tomatoes

Shredded fresh mozzarella

Chopped basil – I use the kitchen scissor to cut it in fine strips

Vinaigrette

Optional to Platter – Add eggs, avocado, lettuce, tuna fish, sardines, and olives

close-up-layout-721Remember, a  lunch salad with vinaigrette made fresh out of  SaladSuccess shaker will help you eat better and feel great.  SaladSuccess is just $9.95 and gives you perfect vinaigrette and salad dressings every day with no fuss.