Saturday, December 27, 2008

Winter Salad with Toasted Mustard Seed Vinaigrette

It's that time of year for soup and winter salads. For the month of January, I will be featuring dishes that are perfect for this time of year, like various "comfort" foods, soups, stews, and winter salads. This is the first in this series, even though it's only December 27th.

This is a delicious winter salad. It would taste great served with Mashed Potato Cakes and a steak. Enjoy!

2 tablespoons mustard seeds
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/3 olive oil
1 small shallot, finely chopped
1 large head romaine (2 pounds), torn into bite-size pieces
1 container Spring Mix
1 cup fresh flat leaf parsley


1. Trim fennel stalk flush with bulb and discard stalk. Quarter bulb lengthwise and cut out most of the core, leaving enough to keep pieces intact. Cut quarters lengthwise into thin slices. Look here to for an short tutorial on fennel.

2. Toast mustard seeds in a dry small heavy skillet over moderate heat, stirring constantly, until mustard seeds begin to pop and turn 1 shad darker, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate to cool.

3. Whisk together vinegar, Dijon mustard, salt, and pepper, to taste, then add oil in a slow stream, whisking until emulsified. Stir in shallot and mustard seeds.

4. Toss together fennel, romaine, Spring mix, and parsley in a large bowl. Serve with dressing on the side.

Recipe from; Modifications mine.

Let's be honest for a minute with salads. Picky eaters do not like salads, but gourmets do. This poses a tiny problem because in our house we firmly believe that there is ONE meal made and EVERYONE in the family eats that meal.

Over the years we have found some very easy solutions for making everyone happy at mealtime. Our solution for salads is so simple it's almost ridiculous, but it really boils down to the dressing. A great homemade dressing will make the gourmet happy. Omitting the dressing will make the picky eater happy. A picky eater who ate his green, leafy vegetables makes the mama happy.

I personally do not care if my picky eater has five pieces of various lettuces on his plate instead of a tossed salad with dressing. From my point of view, he is eating the same meal as the rest of the family and getting the same nutritional benefits, especially if I am serving a salad made with mixed greens and/or spinach.

Really. The nutrition is not in the dressing.

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