apple salad with hazelnuts, pancetta, shallots, and roasted parsnips

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Now that it’s October in the Northeast, we are deep into pumpkin spice season (even though maple is the new pumpkin spice, and I will keep saying it until everyone listens).  But neither pumpkin nor maple are the only fabulous flavor of this perfectly crisp couple months. We should be embracing the full bounty that fall affords us.

For example, if you haven’t tried every varietal of apple at your local farmers’ market yet, you’re doing fall wrong.  From Spencers (my personal favorite) to Honey Crisps to Macouns, each one has its own je ne sais quoi. Some are meant for pies, others for snacking; but no matter how you eat it the apple is one of the most defining tastes of autumn.  Throw them into any salad and their crunch and unique sweetness will transport you to an orchard on a cold day in soft flannel–and there are no crowds. And it’s sunny. Can you imagine.

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This salad may seem a bit busy…it has more than a handful of ingredients, but each one brings that extra something that gives it the capacity to be a stand alone meal.  Sweet apples, crunchy hazelnuts, salty pancetta, earthy parsnips, and a good bite from the raw shallots.  What’s so wrong with a salad chock full of tasty bits anyway? Nothing, because then you don’t have to force yourself to eat it.  You will want to eat it.

Time to get on the apple train. Sorry pumpkins (and maples).

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apple salad with hazelnuts, pancetta, shallots, and roasted parsnips
serves 6-8

2 large apples (of your favorite variety)
2 medium sized parsnips, cubed
1/2 pound of pancetta, cooked
1/3 cup roasted hazelnuts, chopped
1 medium sized shallot, sliced thin
shaved ricotta salata cheese to taste (cheddar or chevre would be equally tasty)

Suggested dressing
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 tablespoon dijon mustard
1 tablespoon agave or honey
salt and pepper to taste

  1. Set your oven to 350 degrees. Peel the parsnips and cut them into bite size cubes, then toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Roast for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned and soft. Let cool and set aside.
  2.  Fry the pancetta until crispy.  Place on paper towels to absorb the grease and to cool.  Once cooled, crumble and combine with parsnips.
  3. Chop up your hazelnuts.
  4.  Slice shallot and apple thinly. Add to big bowl of mixed greens.  Throw in hazelnuts, pancetta, and parsnips.  Add salad dressing and combine until everything is well coated.  Shave cheese of choice atop the salad and serve immediately.

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apple salad with hazelnuts, pancetta, shallots, and roasted parsnips

arugula fennel citrus salad

Salad can be sexy, when it wants to be. I feel akin to salad in this way. It may not be easy, and you definitely have to work for it, but it can happen. Besides it’s what’s on the inside that counts and this salad is overflowing with inherent goodness.

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It’s bright and refreshing, and helped me understand why some cultures eat salad as a palate cleanser course after the main dish. It’s not necessarily an everyday salad. The flavors are bold but not overwhelming, which sounds oxymoronic but it’s true. They are flavors begging to be served alongside some seafood or with just with some bread and cheese. And wine.

IMG_6158So really, this is a sexy salad. Splashy colors…aggressive flavors…but approachable. What else could you ask for?

arugula fennel citrus salad

orange (or grapefruit)
fennel bulb, sliced uber thin
radishes, sliced uber thin
avocado, sliced
baby arugula
toasted pistachios
shaved parmesan cheese
salt and pepper
olive oil

The amount of any ingredient used is to your specific taste, and for how much salad you intend to make.  There are no rules with this–everyone’s sexy…er, salad…is different.

Per the photos above, build up your salad starting with the arugula. Supreme the citrus (instructions here), and then squeeze the juice from the remaining pith over everything. Drizzle some olive oil, add salt and pepper, then toss all together.  Serve it up immediately.

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arugula fennel citrus salad

a sea of green

Sometimes, when you get all caught up in donut and cookie intake, your body revolts, and craves all things green.

Greens aren’t so bad, in truth they are actually kind of lovable.  Especially in the spring when they are at their greenest.  So I compiled all the green things in my fridge, added some frills, and ended up with this little bowl of healthy.

all the greens.
all the greens.

Simple and satisfying, it’s a perfect antidote to sugar overload. Or just to eat because you’re hungry and it tastes really good.

Get your green on.
PS. If you were asking yourself if those are assorted undergarments surrounding the edge of the bowl in the photos, the answer is yes.  The bowl comes from fishs eddy (purchased years ago), the coolest little kitchen shop in NYC.

with the frills.
with the frills.

 

All things green salad

1 bunch asparagus
½ cup scallions, sliced on an angle (just greens)
2 cups small English peas
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
4 cups baby arugula
4 eggs, hard cooked
1 lemon
2 tbs olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

  • boil the eggs: in a large pot cover 4 eggs with cold water until just submerged.  bring to a boil, then put heat low and cover the pot.  let eggs cook an additional 8 minutes.  Remove and run eggs under cold water until cool enough to handle.  Peel immediately and set aside.
  • bring 2nd large pot of water to a boil.
  • remove woody ends of asparagus, cut spears on an angle into bite size pieces.
  • drop cut asparagus into the water.  blanch 5 minutes or until tender. Put in ice bath to stop cooking and preserve color.  Remove from ice bath and set aside.
  • Blanch peas 3 minutes or until just cooked. Ice bath it. remove and set aside with asparagus. let cool.
  • Slice scallion on diagonal, just the greens!
  • Put arugula in a big salad bowl and combine all green things. Sprinkle with sea salt and pepper, add the cheese cheese, squeeze lemon over everything, drizze with olive oil, toss to combine.
  • slice eggs and lay them atop salad.
a sea of green