Salads to see you through the winter

Salads to see you through the winter

Summer salad days are over, not to mention autumn. We are supposed to welcome root vegetables that are stored in the basement, garage or the cool pantry as a great gift of the season. And we do. Nothing like a good beetroot borscht or garlic mashed potatoes. But for true salad lovers, the show must somehow continue.

Our household, which is reluctant to give up the habit of home-grown products, relies on an unheated greenhouse for a winter supply of spinach, mache, tatsoi and other cold-hardy greens. (A cold frame or two would also serve well.) Yet in the darkness of early winter, the growth of leafy crops slows down, and our usual definition of lettuce expands to include something extra hearty and invigorating. At noon, I poke through the basement, pantry and refrigerator, looking for inspiration at my fingertips.

Cabbage, which stays refrigerated for months, is a robust, nutritious substitute for salad, either in a coleslaw or as an addition to greens. Red cabbage, cut very thin, looks especially inviting when mixed with arugula and spinach. Bright orange carrots, either grated or shaved with a peeler, have the same festive effect. Both along with raisins, thinly sliced ​​onions and a dressing of roasted sesame oil and cider vinegar are even better. Sometimes I will go another way and combine shaved carrots and sliced ​​onions with apples, walnuts and dried cranberries, dressed with mayonnaise. It’s reminiscent of a favorite dish my mom used to make: carrots and raisins ground together in a meat mincer and mixed with mayo for sandwich filling. Sometimes I take a tip from the French and make celery remoulade, which is just raw celery root cut into thin julienne strips and marinated in a mayonnaise jazzed up with mustard.

Often I make a whole meal of a salad by adding buttered croutons, apples and cheese diced or grated to the greens that are available. Cooked vegetables are also useful. A few cold leftovers of baked beets or boiled potatoes are wonderful salad extenders.

As winter draws to a close, it is a challenging game to conjure up salad brackets. Fortunately, in early January, when winter is at its coldest, the increasing length of day accelerates the growth of greenhouse supply, so leafy greens will begin to play a more abundant role. In the months that follow, root vegetables will become turbulent in their trash cans, and it can also be a strange little bonanza. Onion bulbs that sprout long tops may well be feasible, but the green tops are a late winter gift of unintentional scallion. Even the budding leaves of aging turnips, kohlrabi and celery root can be cut and sprinkled over salads for a fresh, flavorful young garnish. I can almost pretend it’s spring.

Barbara Damrosch’s latest book is “The Four Season Farm Gardener’s Cookbook.”

Salads to see you through the winter

Barbara Damrosch’s latest book is “The Four Season Gardener’s Cookbook.”

Salads to see you through the winter

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