COLD WEATHER SALADS

2013-02-14T00:00:00Z COLD WEATHER SALADSby Jane Dunne THE CULINARIAN nwitimes.com
February 14, 2013 12:00 am  • 

The meteorologists tell us we are more than half-way through winter. I'm sure those on the east coast would bitterly scoff at that as they continue to dig themselves out. We Chicagoans, however, have had it easy and find such weather statements believable. I'm getting bored with so much hearty food and could stand some lightening up - and I know I'm not alone.

Here are a couple of really good main course salads to tide you through to spring no matter where you are.

ROASTED SALMON WITH SHIITAKE MUSHROOMS, LEEKS AND ARUGULA (4 servings)

This salad is easy to do and takes less than 20 minutes from start to finish. It is one of my favorites to serve at lunch with a cup of creamy soup to begin, and something fruity for dessert. A glass of sauvignon blanc or viognier is a perfect partner.

1/2 pound shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced 1/4-inch-thick

1 medium leek, white and light green parts only, halved lengthwise, rinsed well, and cut 1/8-inch-thick

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 medium lemon

4 skinless salmon fillets, 4 ounces each

4 lightly packed cups baby arugula

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat to 450 degrees. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, toss the mushrooms, leeks, oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Set aside.

Arrange the salmon on the baking sheet. Finely grate the lemon zest over the tops of the salmon and season with a little salt and pepper. Scatter the mushrooms and leeks around the fish in a single layer. Roast until vegetables are tender and the salmon is opaque in the center, about 12 to 15 minutes. Remove the salmon fillets to a plate or platter.

Combine the arugula and roasted vegetables in a large bowl. Squeeze half the lemon over the vegetables and toss to combine. Divide the mixture among four dinner plates. Top each salad with a salmon fillet. Garnish with a small wedge of lemon (from the other lemon half) and serve immediately.

GREENS WITH ALMONDS AND GOAT CHEESE (4 servings)

The apricot jam in the warm dressing marries perfectly with the sharpness of the greens. Serve with some slices of toasted baguette on the side, and with a chilled glass of chardonnay. Dental floss, by the way, is a great way of cutting neat rounds of goat cheese.

1/2 cup whole unsalted almonds

1 large shallot, thinly sliced

3 tablespoons raspberry vinegar

6 cups baby arugula (6 ounces)

2 Belgian endives, thinly sliced crosswise

1/2 small head radicchio, cored and finely shredded

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon finely chopped rosemary leaves

1/2 teaspoon chopped thyme leaves

3 tablespoons apricot jam

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 (8-ounce) log of fresh goat cheese, cut into 8 rounds

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spread the almonds in a pie plate and toast for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring once, until golden. Let cool; then coarsely chop.

In a small bowl, mix the shallot and vinegar; let stand for 10 minutes, In a large bowl, toss the arugula, endives, radicchio and almonds. Set aside.

Dressing: In a skillet, heat the oil, rosemary and thyme over medium heat for 2 minutes, until sizzling. Stir in the jam and cook until melted, 30 seconds. Add the shallot/vinegar mixture to the skillet and cook over low heat for 30 seconds, until warmed. Season with salt and pepper. Pour the warm dressing over the greens and toss. Mound the salad on plates, arrange 2 rounds of goat cheese on each plate and serve immediately.

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