Eat Like a Farmer: Spring Dinner Salad
Is there a better salad recipe out there? I don't care. Here's what I want for dinner every night for 10 months out of the year.
When we want to be sure to have a beautiful, healthy meal on the table on an evening when a bunch of us are rushing through the door hungry, everyone stands a better chance of eating well if that beautiful, healthy meal is already prepared. Some people say you should never shop when you're hungry. I say you should never cook when you're hungry, either.
1/3 pound spinach
1.5 pounds golden beets, cut into matchsticks and tossed with citrus juice to prevent browning
1.5 pounds purple daikon radishes, chopped
3 pounds beets, cubed and roasted in olive oil
a jar of lacto-fermented ginger carrots
2/3 c olive oil
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar (the higher quality, the better)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons prepared Dijon mustard
A note on methods: most of the above I chop straight into clear, stackable glass containers, because I'm much more likely to remember to eat what's in there if I can see it. There are two advantages of storing each ingredient separately. First, everyone gets to build their own salad. Always a plus if you're dealing with eaters who have strong feelings about ingredients. And second, I don't have a single bowl large enough to hold all of this. This way, I can shoehorn more into the fridge. The spinach goes into a large glass salad bowl, with a plate on top for a lid. This amount of food serves about 5 huge dinner salads for me and my salad-loving seven-year-old. If we have to share with the rest of our family, it doesn't stretch quite as far.
A note on ingredients: roasted, cooled beets take the place of tomatoes in our house for much of the year. If you toss them with a little extra balsamic vinegar after roasting, the combination of their natural sweetness plus the tang of the vinegar is just the thing--easily better than what passes for tomatoes in any northern grocery store for 9 months out of the year. Likewise, purple radishes have a way of standing in for bell peppers on our winter table. Like bell peppers, purple radishes are beautiful, crunchy, and full of vitamin C. And if you haven't tried golden beets, you may not know that they're excellent eaten raw. Be sure to toss them with citrus juice before socking them away in the fridge, or they'll turn brown on you.
You can also read this recipe in our Eat Like a Farmer recipe column in the Petoskey News-Review.