Winter Salads: Fighting the Blues With Greens

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Winter salads using exotic couscous warm up even the coldest winter days, and a side of apple coleslaw will add color and festivity to ordinary meals.
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For a change of pace this winter, turn cabbage and apples into crispy coleslaw.

It’s depressing. That’s the only way to describe preparing
winter salads. Handling limp lettuce,
crunchless carrots, and soggy celery just adds to the
overbearing bleakness that hits many of us midwinter.
Desperately we long for a little crunch, flavor–anything–in
our greens. For those of us who aren’t growing our own
winter gardens in solar greenhouses, crisp, flavorful
veggies can be pretty hard to find north of the Mason Dixon
line. Even our pet rabbit turns up her nose at the sight of
February’s pathetic produce. It’s no wonder people attempt
to liven their salads by smothering them with heaps of oily
or creamy dressings.

Some of you may consider rebelling by beginning a salad
fast until June, when you can start harvesting the veggies
from your outdoor garden again. Be warned, rebelling isn’t
such a hot idea. Winter is typically the meat-and-potato
season, when we crave stick-to-your-ribs type foods
(logical since our bodies need extra fuel to equip us for
winter weather). But because cooking breaks down the fiber
in our food, meat and potatoes are sorely lacking in fiber
and other nutrients that are found only in fresh produce.
Of all the times to skimp on nutrition, the cold and flu
season may be the worst of all.

Fiber has another important quality during the winter
months. It helps us control the extra weight that inevitably
sneaks up on so many of us. Because raw produce has more
bulk than cooked produce, you don’t have to eat as much of
it to feel full. As it is digested, the fiber takes with it
waste calories that otherwise hang around waiting to
metabolize as fat. Therefore salad skimping is one sacrifice
you want to avoid. Because flying off to tropical veggie-rich
climates in February may not be feasible financially, we need
to start getting creative with seasonal fruits and
vegetables. Here are some ideas that we think will liven up your winter salads and make them a part of the meal you look forward to again.

Couscous Salad with Harissa Sauce

 *2 cups couscous (1 use whole wheat instead of white couscous )
1 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
3/4 cup frozen peas, defrosted
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon lemon juice
dash of salt and cayenne pepper
1 15-ounce can garbanzo beans, rinsed
3 green onions
1/2 cup chopped fresh herbs: cilantro, mint (use parsley if the other two are unavailable)

4 radishes, chopped (optional)

Spicy Hot Harissa Sauce

1 large clove garlic
2 jalapeno peppers, stems and seeds removed (for a milder sauce, try 1 jalapeno and 1/2 roasted poblano pepper with skin removed)
1/4 cup olive oil cup lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon grated orange rind
1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon caraway seeds

Bring broth to a boil. Put couscous in large bowl or pan
with a lid. Pour broth over couscous, cover, and let sit
for 15 minutes. Fluff with fork and add peas and spices.
Stir in rest of salad ingredients.

In blender, mix dressing well, and store in separate
container. Before serving, shake dressing and then drizzle
over couscous.

*Couscous is an African pasta dish made from wheat. It can
be found with Mediterranean foods in supermarkets.

Orange Watercress Salad
 

1 bunch watercress, washed and trimmed, or fresh
spinach, chopped

2 navel oranges
1 daikon
radish (about 3/4 cup cut into matchstick-size pieces)

2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds

Dressing

1 tablespoon sesame or canola oil
1 teaspoon grated orange rind cup fresh orange juice
*1 tablespoon crystallized ginger, cut up with scissors into small pieces
a dash of cayenne pepper

Toast sesame seeds briefly in dry skillet, and shake pan a
few times until seeds are lightly browned. Combine
watercress, oranges, and radish. In blender, mix dressing
well and pour over salad. Toss, and top with sesame seeds.
Eat within an hour or greens will become soggy. (Dressing
can be made ahead of time if necessary.)

*Found in oriental grocery stores, in the Chinese cooking
section of supermarkets, or in natural food markets.

Wild Rice Salad

1 1/2 cups basmati brown rice (or other long grain
rice)

1/2 cup wehani or wild rice
3/4 cup
red onion, finely chopped

2 tablespoons champagne
vinegar (or white wine vinegar)

1 tablespoon mild
oil

1/3 cup currants
1 small red pepper,
sliced into thin strips and then chopped

2 green
onions, diced

1/4 cup chopped walnuts
(optional)

Dressing

1/3 cup orange juice, fresh or frozen
2
teaspoons grated orange peel

3 tablespoons apricot
jam (I use unsweetened jam)

a few dashes cayenne
pepper

salt and freshly ground pepper to
taste

Bring four cups water (three cups if you’re using wild
rice) to boil. Stir in basmati and wehani rice. Cover and
simmer for 40 to 45 minutes. If using wild rice, cook
separately according to directions. Refrigerate rice
overnight if possible. Heat champagne vinegar and oil in
microwave or stove. Pour hot liquid over red onions and
currants. Prepare rest of salad. Whisk dressing and pour
over salad. Stir in red onions and currants. Serve topped
with walnuts if desired.

Garbanzo Bean Salad
 

1 19-ounce can garbanzo beans (chick peas), rinsed well
and drained

2 cups celery, chopped
1
small red onion, quartered and sliced thin

1/2 cup
parsley, chopped

2 teaspoons dried dill

Dressing

1 tablespoon olive oil (1 use extra virgin)
2
tablespoons balsamic vinegar or red wine vinegar

1
teaspoon Dijon mustard

1/4 cup lemon juice
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon
cayenne pepper

salt and freshly ground pepper

Pour salad ingredients into a large bowl and then mix.
Whisk together dressing ingredients, pour over bean salad,
and stir so that beans are coated. Salad will keep in
refrigerator for five to six days.

Apple Coleslaw
 

4 cups green cabbage, sliced very thin
1 red
apple, chopped into
1/2inch pieces
2 green onions, sliced

Dressing

1 teaspoon cider vinegar
2 tablespoons apple cider
1/4 cup thick yogurt
2 tablespoons light or soy mayonnaise
2 teaspoons honey
1/4 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
dash cayenne pepper

1/2 cup cilantro or fresh parsley

Pour cabbage, apple, and onions into bowl. Stir until
combined. Then whisk together dressing and pour over salad.
Top salad with cilantro and serve immediately. Salad will
hold crispness for no more than one hour in refrigerator.

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