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?