What? Don’t you? My hands feel like bricks of ice. The wind is uncaring and works like a machine gun against my skin. And when it comes to dinner, I’ve lost faith in the comfort of baby lettuce and vinaigrette. What’s more, I’ve lost faith in salad altogether. It fails to move me, fails to warm me — and since September — it fails to make it on my dinner table at all.
There are no bright, red tomatoes to use as a crutch. No fresh basil to pluck from the garden. When winter sinks in its teeth, it digs in hard and takes the entire first course with it. At least, that’s what I thought until this dish happened — the one you’re looking at now. Warm winter salad.
One bite in and the cage surrounding my cold, stony heart was lifted: wrinkled leaves of kale, warmed in a pool of minced garlic and hot oil. Peppery-hot radish discs sauteed with shitake mushrooms and shallots. Not to be too over-the-top, but when cold becomes hot, the whole earth tilts on its axis.
It was a happy accident. Inspired by another dish — soon to be unveiled — I needed a dressing for some left over roast beef I had intended to use on some greens. And what’s better with roast beef than horseradish? Enter this dressing — a bright, tangy counterpoint to hearty kale — horseradish emulsified with creme fraiche and dijon mustard. And suddenly, I didn’t need the beef to steal the show.
Just a tablespoon or two of the dressing adds just the right amount of complexity. Any more and you might freeze out the taste buds.
And as you know — bearing down in the cold, 17-degree weather, scraping ice off your car windows, searching desperately for those boots from last season — winter’s cold enough.
Warm, Winter Salad with Kale, Radishes, Shitake Mushrooms and Horseradish Dressing
1 shallot, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
bunch of kale, torn into pieces
4 ounces shitake mushrooms, sliced
1 bunch radishes, sliced
2 carrots, julienned
Salt and pepper, to taste
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2-3 tbs horseradish (to taste)
1 cup creme fraiche
2 tbs dijon mustard
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (or less, depending on desired consistency)
Salt and pepper to taste
In a medium saute pan, add oil and saute shallots 2-3 minutes. Add mushrooms and saute until caramelized and moisture is released. Add garlic and kale and saute until reduced in size. Add radishes and carrots and cook slightly. Season with salt and pepper.
Mix together dressing ingredients and spoon a couple tablespoons over the salad while still on the burner. Toss well and serve warm.