Perhaps if I publicly engage in self-flagellation, I’ll break a nasty habit: I don’t eat salad the way I should.
I like salad just fine. Just last week Scheidt and I ordered a lovely roasted butternut squash salad at Rustico in nearby Alexandria. And while the squash was delicious, it was the cranberry-balsamic dressing that really caught our attention: bright and ultra-fruity, not sharp, not greasy.
And never fear, I buy lettuce; I just lose all motivation to prepare salad with dinner. And no, it doesn’t matter if the lettuce in question is fully-pedigreed, triple-washed, organic, hand-picked-by-Joel-Salatin-himself Farmer’s Market lettuce. I have good lettuce intentions, but I fail to follow through. Indeed, every time we actually finish a bag of lettuce before it starts to smell funny, high fives are exchanged. This is pathetic.
We can make a decent salad, for the record. We employ a Magic Salad Formula (lettuce + fruit + nuts + cheese) that yields reliably tasty greenery.
And yet, the lettuce goes moldy, and the bags go in the garbage, which makes me feel crappy for 65 different reasons.
All of which is to say that I prefer salads like this one: no lettuce. Indeed, a quick look back through the blog archives yielded exactly one salad based on lettuce, and it’s from the very early days (which I prefer to pretend don’t exist).
Oh, this salad does include some leafy green things – spinach and Belgian endive – but its body, heart and soul is bright, tart Granny Smith apples. Adhering to the Magic Salad Formula, it incorporates nuts and cheese along with the apples and is thus quite predictably delicious.
But the best part, aside from the conspicuous absence of a leafy bed, is the dressing. It’s somewhere between a fruity vinaigrette and a honey mustard, thanks to the pomegranate molasses. The recipe yields a good deal of extra dressing that keeps forever, and dare I say it: it’s awesome on lettuce.
Here are three more not-lettuce salads you might enjoy.
- Pea Salad with Shiitake-Ginger Dressing
- French Green Bean Salad
- Tomato and Red Onion Salad – do not attempt until summer returns!
Apple Salad with Pomegranate Dressing
Adapted from Bobby Flay by way of Food Republic
The first time we made this, we found the mustard flavor overwhelming (we used Trader Joe’s Dijon), so we reduced it this time. I also reduced the amount of oil a bit, for while it’s rich, it’s just not necessary. The apples will stop browning as soon as the salad is dressed, but if you are a slow dicer like me, I suggest making use of one of my favorite kitchen secrets: Fruit Fresh. Just toss the diced apples in a bowl with a few tablespoons of water and a heaping tablespoon of Fruit Fresh, and they will stay white a crisp. As for assembly, the quantities in the salad are really guidelines. I upped the spinach and reduced the blue cheese – even I have limits.
For the dressing:
3 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard (or more to taste)
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
For the salad:
3-4 Granny Smith apples, cored and cut into 1/2 inch dice
5 ounces baby spinach, roughly sliced (one bag)
2 heads Belgian endive, sliced thin into half-moons
4 ounces blue cheese crumbles
1 cup chopped toasted walnuts
To make the dressing, whisk together the pomegranate molasses, vinegar, mustard and honey until well combined. Whisking constantly, start dribbling in the oil. Start with a few drops and work your way up to a light stream, until all the oil is incorporated. Cover and chill.
To assemble the salad, combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Toss in dressing to taste. You’ll probably have leftovers if you like your salad lightly dressed, as I do.