Salads Warm Up
Transform autumn's hearty vegetables into substantial, comforting entrees.
(Photo by Jim Scherer, styling by Mary Jane Sawyer)
As the offerings at the grocery store and farmers' market shift from the light, lovely produce of summer to the root vegetables of fall, it's only natural that the way we eat undergoes a similar transition. It would be easy to bemoan the loss of summer's gastronomic good fortune; instead, go with the meteorological flow and prepare hearty salads that reflect the still-abundant harvest and our appetite for warming, substantial fare. Serving a salad as a main course need not sniff of an unhappy diet regimen. Sturdy vegetables, browned and sweet from roasting (as well as pieces of chicken, beef, or shrimp), have substance and an element of comfort. Drizzle with vinaigrette, serve with a crusty baguette, and you've got a salad that is healthy enough to feel good about and hefty enough to serve as dinner.
FRISEE SALAD WITH ONIONS, SWEET POTATO CHIPS, AND GOAT CHEESE ROUNDS
1 medium Spanish onion, peeled, halved through the core, and cut into 1/2-inch wedges
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
4 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
3/4 teaspoon pepper, plus more for seasoning
1 medium sweet potato, scrubbed and cut in 3/4-inch rounds
6 ounces goat cheese
1 cup panko bread crumbs
2 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 medium head frisee, trimmed and torn into pieces
1/4 pound baby arugula
Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with aluminum foil. Place the onion wedges on one sheet, toss with 1 tablespoon of oil, 1 teaspoon of thyme, 3/4 teaspoon of salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper, and spread in a single layer. On the other sheet, toss the sweet potato with 1 tablespoon of oil, 1 teaspoon of thyme, 3/4 teaspoon of salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper and spread in a single layer.
Form the goat cheese into 4 rounds of the same size and sprinkle them with pepper. In a small bowl, toss the bread crumbs with 1 tablespoon of oil, 1 teaspoon of thyme, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Pat the goat cheese rounds all over with the bread crumbs and set on a large plate.
Roast the onion and sweet potato, flipping after 10 minutes, until the potato is browned and tender and the onion starts to brown and soften, about 25 minutes. Remove the potato from the oven. Push the onions to one side of the sheet and set the goat cheese rounds on the other side. Bake until the bread crumbs turn golden brown and the onions brown but don't burn, about 10 minutes.
In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining oil, vinegar, and 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. In a large bowl, toss the frisee, arugula, and onion wedges with half of this vinaigrette and season with salt and pepper to taste. Arrange the sweet potato chips in the center of four dinner plates. Top with the frisee salad and a round of goat cheese. Drizzle with the remaining balsamic vinaigrette and sprinkle with the remaining thyme.
BEET SALAD WITH SHALLOTS, THYME, AND BLUE CHEESE
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
In a small bowl, whisk the vinegar and mustard and, still whisking, add the oil in a slow, steady stream. Stir in the thyme, salt, and pepper. You can prepare the vinaigrette a few days ahead of time and store it covered in the refrigerator. Whisk again before using.
1 pound beets (about 4), unpeeled, trimmed, scrubbed, and cut into 1/4-inch disks
2 large shallots, peeled and cut into disks 1/4 inch thick
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
1/4 teaspoon pepper, plus more for seasoning
6 ounces baby spinach
6 ounces blue cheese, crumbled (about 1 1/2 cups)
Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. In a large bowl, toss the beets, shallots, and thyme with the oil, 3/4 teaspoon of salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper and set in a single layer on the baking sheet. Roast, flipping the beets and shallots every 10 minutes, until they are completely tender (the shallots should be browned but not burned), 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes.
Set the spinach in a large bowl. Whisk the vinaigrette, drizzle half of it over the spinach, and toss well. Season the greens with salt and pepper and divide them evenly among 4 large plates. Top with beets, shallots, and blue cheese. Drizzle with the remaining vinaigrette.
BABY ROMAINE WITH FENNEL AND ROSEMARY CHICKEN
1 large or 2 small bulbs fennel, halved, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch wedges
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
3/4 teaspoon pepper, plus more for seasoning
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 4), trimmed of excess fat
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 pound baby romaine or mesclun mix
20 large curls Parmesan cheese
Heat the oven to 450 degrees. In a bowl, toss the fennel with 1 tablespoon of oil and 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper and spread in an 8-by-11-inch roasting pan. In the same bowl, toss the chicken, 1 tablespoon of oil, the rosemary, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and set atop the fennel. Roast until the fennel is browned and tender and the chicken is cooked through (a thermometer in the thickest part should register 170 degrees), about 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, whisk together the remaining oil with the vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. In a large bowl, toss the greens with half of the vinaigrette and half of the Parmesan. Season the greens with salt and pepper and divide among 4 large plates. Thinly slice the chicken and set it and the fennel atop the greens and sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan curls. Drizzle with the remaining vinaigrette and juices from the roasting pan and serve.
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