I’m not really one for salads – I generally prefer my vegetables cooked to some degree and without dressings. But having said that, salads can be a lot of fun! Experimenting with simple and subtle flavours that bring out the best of the vegetables in the bowl can help deepen your understanding of the finer dynamics of flavour and balance in cooking.
For my MacroFeast 2014, the themes were winter and cranberries – a seasonal fruit that brings a good zing of sour flavour and natural vitamin C and is generally cooked down in some way to enhance those warming, deepening energies that are so beneficial for our bodies in the cold weather.
I decided a cranberry dressing would be good. Maple syrup was the next ingredient that came to mind to balance out the sour and add some great Canadian minerals and vitamins to the mix. And to finish, the typical salad dressing ingredients of lemon and olive oil. I ran with it and let my intuition guide me – leaving the cranberries in whole for some bursts of flavour – with fantastic results! My girl Dessy took the rest of the dressing home to devour.
– 1 head romaine lettuce, washed and torn to bite size pieces
– 1 head watercress, washed and torn to bite size pieces
– 1 head frisee lettuce, washed and torn to bite size pieces
– 1 cup fresh basil
– 1 cup fresh parsley
– 1 cup cranberries
– ½ cup water
– ½ cup maple syrup
– juice and zest of 1 lemon
– ½ cup olive oil
– 2 cups toasted walnuts
Bring cranberries, water, and maple syrup to a boil. Turn down and let simmer on low for about 20-30 minutes, or until thickened and condenced. You can mash the cranberries a bit to break down the larger pieces. Cool completely in fridge before going to next step.
With a whisk, bring together the cranberry syrup, lemon juice and zest, and oil using an emulsifying method. Dressing can be stored in the fridge for up to 1 week.
To serve, toss a serving of the mixed greens with a few tablespoons of dressing, to taste. Garnish with chopped toasted walnuts.