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Tart Greens With Apples and Pecans

Salads don't come naturally to me in the winter months. Perhaps it's a sense of pessimism reinforced by my dormant, gone-to-seed garden. It could also be related to the often pitiful salad greens at our supermarket--almost always discolored, wilted, and soaking wet from being sprayed with water for days on end. In any case, the circumstances hardly inspire me to toss a salad. My heart's just not in it.

And yet there is no time of year when I need a good salad as much as winter. A dose of bright chlorophyll coupled with a tangy dressing can make you want to click your heels. And folks, I don't know how these early days of March are treating you, but I sure could use something that makes me want to click my heels.

Arugula is probably my favorite salad green. I've heard that many salad traditionalists don't care for it because of its peppery bitterness. But I find it to be a sophisticated peppery bitterness, much like many classic works of literature. The addition of just the right amount of radicchio, endive, and sour apple make for an even zippier affair, teasing the taste buds into a lather, which is tamed only slightly by toasted pecans and a tangy buttermilk dressing.

If you need a green boost in your life right now, this may be your new favorite salad. It will leave you feeling light and chipper and totally ready for anything. Well, it can help, anyway.

Other articles you might enjoy: Chopped Winter Salad, Fennel Salad With Asian Pears and Walnuts, Raw Kale Salad With Pepitas and Parmesan

Tart Greens With Apples and Pecans
4 to 6 servings

            Buttermilk Honey Dressing (see recipe below)
Combine in a salad bowl:
           4 cups bite-sized pieces arugula
            1 small head radicchio, torn into bite-sized pieces
            2 Belgian endives, cores trimmed and removed and leaves sliced lengthwise into long strips
Place in another bowl:
            1 Granny Smith or other tart apple, cored and very thinly sliced
Stir the dressing well, then add just enough to both the greens and the apple to moisten, and toss to coat. Divide the greens among salad plates. Top with the apple and:
            ½ cup pecan halves, toasted

Buttermilk Honey Dressing
Makes 1 1/3 cups

Whisk together in a small bowl:
           1/4 cup rice vinegar
            1/4 cup sour cream
            1/4 cup buttermilk
            3 tablespoons honey
            1 teaspoon minced garlic
            1 scallion, minced
            Pinch of ground red pepper
            Salt and black pepper to taste
Add in a slow, steady stream, whisking constantly:
            1/2 cup olive oil

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Preheat the oven to 400˚F. Cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes:
     One medium eggplant (about 3/4 to 1 pound)
On a baking sheet, toss the cubed eggplant with: