I keep our refrigerator continuously stocked with all of the greens necessary to whip up an impromptu salad like this one at the drop of a hat. Winter demands it, as I've found I feel one hundred percent better after consuming a meal of raw veggies (tossing in a bit of cooked quinoa amps up the protein level to boost my stamina). Mentally I need it. Physically I need it, too. The salad information will be covered shortly below if you care to skip this next part.
First off, I have some complaining to do. I have no more patience for anything with the words "polar" or "vortex" attached to them and here's why:
I believe in global warming.
I'm not ready for another Ice Age.
I haven't started my alpaca farm yet.
I don't know how to construct an igloo.
I am way too far behind on knitting sweaters.
Living in a yurt is not an option.
And Even our mighty snow-loving canine seems to prefer the warmth of our snug little living room to traipsing around on frigid, hard ground.
However, yesterday a winter miracle happened: it was nearly sixty degrees outside! We loaded up the kids and headed out for a stroll. I took the big white furry one and RAN! Yes. I said, ran. Ten days ago, I was given the All Clear on my ankle and I couldn't have been happier. The doc actually said, "You've healed yourself" and had a huge grin on his face when he said it. I almost cried. I'll require no physical therapy at all. There's just a bit of swelling still left behind and the teeniest little gap still on my outer fibula--which is healing beautifully and will close eventually. But as far as restrictions, I have none. Just GO! And. I. Did.
Running is all about keeping up. (Especially when we've spotted our "daddy" up ahead!)
A post-run/mommy pose in front of the Mississippi River.
Back into the guitar student seat again, I found that I was struggling with my strings. They're steel. I was feeling quite indifferent to my guitar as a result. So much pain. So I thought some new nylon strings were in order. No biggie, right? Um, unless the owner of the guitar studio suddenly stops right before new strings are selected and says, Oh-oh. And then you go, Oh-oh what? Turns out my guitar's bridge was pulling from the body. And truthfully, I had no idea that this was an important thing. That's sorta is an important thing and would require repairs, the cost of which were beyond the cost of the guitar in total, which brings me to my point: I traded my first guitar in for a new one and OMG, I LOVE it! It's an Alvarez Acoustic Electric Folk Guitar. (And it just so happened they had a used amp that just had come in, so that came home, too.) What a difference an amp, a smaller guitar and some easier chord transitions can make in your playing and confidence. My old guitar will stay at the studio for some other aspiring guitar player someday. Meantime, I practice, practice, practice.
Now back to the food. Basically, I've relied on my eyes and my knife skills to riff around one main ingredient lately: radicchio. I love the little round heads known as Chioggia radicchio (the most common variety grown in the US). It's a tight headed lettuce with deep red leaves and bright white veins. Belgian endive is a relative, but for some reason, my palate prefers the radicchio. It's gotten my attention of late because not only is it pretty, it stores incredibly well. It serves as a lovely backdrop to nearly any and all salad combo mixes: spinach, romaine, chard, kale, cabbage and also stands up to storage quite nicely.
Vegan Winter Salad with Dijon Balsamic Vinaigrette
Prepare some quinoa first. (I added about a third of a cup of cooked quinoa to this salad.) Fill a large bowl with your favorite winter veggies--adding some sweet dried cranberries and crunchy pistachios worked well for me. A mandolin comes in handy for radishes, onions and carrots. Then I usually hand chop the lettuces I'll be adding. The radicchio I peal back leaf-by-leaf. For this salad, I used about three leaves. Like I said, it stores for a good while in the crisper. I also love adding chopped fresh parsley to this salad. Once the bowl is full, it's time to make the dressing.
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon vegan mayo
2 teaspoons agave nectar
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
fresh ground pepper
salt to taste
pinch of cayenne pepper
dried Italian herbs--about a teaspoon
Add all ingredients to a small bowl and whisk well. Taste first! Add agave or add salt for balance. I never really use exactly the same amount of any ingredient when I make this, but have found that, just tasting as I build the vinaigrette helps with the end result.