Friday, December 30, 2011

An Eatalian Plate: Winter Vegetable Salad

According to a recent article in the MSN Lifestyle section, the #8 unexpected thing men love about women is "culinary confidence". The gentleman being quoted describes how cute it is when his special lady eats something yummy in a restaurant and says "I could make this!" Bonus points if she's so bold as to ask the waiter how it's done.

MSN Guy: This one's for you.

I've mentioned that Dan and I visited Manhattan for a few days during the holiday season. Aside from Occupying Wall Street, we did a lot of walking and a lot of eating; we found some cozy spots and had some really special, fabulous food. On Dan's must-do list was to check out Eataly, a New York restaurant that's really like twelve restaurants under one gigantic pseudo-Italian roof. Each restaurant specializes in one thing, for example: fish, meat, pasta, vegetables, or beer (guess which one he wanted to try!).

Before we made our way to Birreria, the Eataly beer experience with really good craft beer and uber-extroverted bartenders, we stopped at Le Verdure, the vegetable place. It. Was. Delicious. We shared an antipasti called Insalata Di Finocchi E Agrumi (Citrus and Fennel Salad) which was so yummy and simple I thought "I could make this!" (see above).

The real Citrus and Fennel Salad. 
Based on my memory of the dish, what's listed on the menu, and what I have available at home (hint: not pomegranate or citrus), here is our version:

1 medium bulb fennel
1 small celery root
A handful of dried cranberries 
Note: The actual recipe clearly used pomegranate seeds, small pieces of an orange, and small pieces of a grapefruit. You could use those instead if you have them around.

3 T champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar
2 T lemon juice (about 1 whole lemon)
2 T good olive oil
1.5 T honey (I used raw honey)

Cut off the top of the fennel, pick off some of the dill and set it aside. 

Slice both the fennel and celery root as thinly as possible. I believe we could have done a better job if we owned a mandoline or similar food slicer, but a carefully applied knife worked out alright. Put the sliced veggies on a plate and mix in the cranberries. You can cover this and refrigerate it until ready to serve.

Next, mix together the rest of the ingredients - vinegar, lemon juice, olive oil, and honey - in a small bowl to make a honey-lemon vinaigrette dressing. It's a bit tangy by itself but the sweetness of the cranberries has a mellowing effect. Give your dill a quick chop and mix it into the vinaigrette as well.

When ready to serve, pour the vinaigrette mixture on top of the salad.

The "homemade" Winter Vegetable Salad
Check out more healthy living tips and great recipes at The Healthy Home Economist.

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