Sunday, January 18, 2009

Winter Carrot-Apple Salad and Gros Manseng

When it's a warm day and the seventy-degree California air outside whistles at you with disgust when you reach for a skillet but your vegetable crisper is still packed to the till with the root vegetables the January weather normally dictates, reach for the grater. Make a root vegetable and apple salad, dress it with a light lemon, olive oil and dijion vinaigrette, and call it lunch. Sip with Gros Manseng.

After a week of days blessed with sun that warms the soul in the middle of winter, turning on the stove feels like a kitchen sin. Take heed, dear readers, there is a livelier way to utilize those those previously soup and braising-bound veggies.

While we normally think of using spring peas or summer tomatoes for a seasonal salad, grated root vegetables can rock a salad bowl too. Just as braising winter produce soothes their starchy nature and brings caramel-like sugars to the surface, shredding a carrot or parsnip into fine pieces breaks down the grainy fibers and softens the plant's rough edges. Futhermore, the acid in the vinaigrette cooks the veggies like citrus cooks or processes fish in ceviche, so the vegetables soften, and guests won't still be chewing on fibrous roots on the car ride home.

There are a couple things to keep in mind when going root-style. First, since root veggies generally become limp and uni-textural when shredded and dressed, adding something with a snap like apple or celery to the mix adds another dimension to the salad that keeps your mouth coming back for more. Unless your a fan of that soft slaw that sits on family picnic tables, adding crunch is key, otherwise, add mayonnaise. Another way to booster even more crunch is by tossing in a small handful of roughly chopped nuts like walnuts or pecans at the last minute. Next, to liven up the salad's sugary, simple winter flavors, make a punchy extra virgin olive oil vinaigrette heavy on the lemon, seasoned with a handful of chopped herbs and dijon that will contrast the sweetness of the roots and offer the salad balance.

Quick and Easy Winter Root-Vegetable Apple Salad

serves 3-4 people

shredded root vegetables- 2 carrots, 2 parsnips or 1 small celery root (mix and matching possible)

1/2 tsp. dijion mustard
1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
1 1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp fresh herbs, chopped

1 small handful roughly chopped pecans

1 crisp apple, such as fuji

salt and pepper

Place shredded root vegetables and chopped pecans a large bowl. In a small bowl or jar, mix dijion, lemon juice, oil and chopped herbs and set aside. Cut apple into match stick pieces at the last minute to avoid browning and add to large bowl. Pour dressing over salad and mix well. Salt and pepper to taste.

What to drink

It's afternoon, it's cool. If you're feeling like a glass of cold wine, grab a bottle of Gros Manseng or another crisp, punchy white from Gascony or the Laungedoc regions of France. Typically made with Gros Manseng, Petite Manseng, and sometimes Ugni Blanc, whites from this region are typically high-acidity, aromatic wines that pair with vegetables like Sophia Loren pairs with a slim-cut dress. If you were under the impression that Gruner Vetliner had no match in the contest of who paired best with vegetables, well.... Gros Manseng (get ready for this) tastes good with brussel sprouts, broccoli, and even asparagus. I know, I know, life continues to amaze. And best of all, it's relatively cheap in the world of good wine. The Domaine des Cassagnoles bottle I drank, pictured above, went for $13.50, and the bottle I had from the Laungedoc last week sported a $9 pricetag. The flavors, you ask? Granny smith apple, quince, apricot, flowers, lemon, and a finish that makes your lips purse.

Any favorite salads that utlilize the tougher winter produce in your house?

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Marc @ NoRecipes said...

I love crisp whites and Gros Manseng sounds fantastic! I'm looking for this one next time I'm at USQ Wine

Apples and Butter said...

That salad sounds wonderful! My mother used to shred carrots into every salad when we were little, but I never think to do it with other veggies.

On another note - can we talk about Queso Fresco ice cream? Seriously? I still have St. Agur ice cream in the freezer and I already have a new obsession. Must make now! Where did you have it? I'm on the hunt for recipes!

Cynthia said...

What a lovely idea. I must make this some time. I like the idea of the apple and carrots.

Anonymous said...

Did you talk about HOT weather? Arghhh! :-)

Okay you're excused because the salad looks and sounds fantastic (yay for apples!) and the Gros Manseng is from the region where i grew up (i moved a lot around the southwest). Great job!

Kirstin said...

Gros Manseng is magical and you will love it. Promise.
Apples and Butter
I have no idea where to find the Queso Fresco recipe. I only had a sample at a local (Oakland) Mexican hand-churned ice cream place last year. But, I will try to make it back soon. And when I do.....I'll eat a whole bunch and see if I can squeeze a recipe out of the master.
Love that crunch.
Zen Chef:
You know that you don't HAVE to exist in freezing cold temperatures right? California has some space available and could use some more people able to cook Pierre Herme recipes. Glad to know I found your wine sweet spot!