I came very close to handing over the first post of 2012 to either a pot of creamy vanilla-specked rice pudding or to a pan of pancetta fortified meatballs, but clearly neither fits well with my January 1st New-Year-New-Me mantra (insert dramatic eye roll here.) Though I did run 3 miles at the gym yesterday, I also stuffed my face with crackling and butter-laden apple strudel and the better part of a bottle of wine. Needless to say, the New Year is off to a great start here.
But instead of creamy dessert or crisp-crackling meatballs, I have for you today the ultimate New Year’s cliché: a salad.
Bear with me people. It’s a damn good salad, I promise.
It is inspired by the first two-martini lunch I’ve had in years (except they were manhattans) shared with Vange at Area Four in Cambridge on Friday. We got a bit of a late start on our lunch plans after running into every single resident of J.P. (Vange has been M.I.A. for a couple years and drew a bit of a crowd), plus a nasty head bonking which I won’t go into here (except to say that blood was drawn and that it was neither my head nor my bonking.)
Long and short, by the time we were seated at Area Four, the wait staff was doing pre-meal with the chef and busily setting the restaurant for dinner service. We ordered away: homemade mozzarella topped with gremolata, a charming white pizza with New England Clams and smoky bacon, and a sassy salad of shaved brussel sprouts, arugula, kale ribbons, cheese, and toasted hazelnuts. Maybe because the pale winter sun had waned already, or because of the aforementioned head trauma, or maybe just because I like wine, we washed this meal down with a liter of wine and two cocktails each. A very. nice. lunch. indeed.
I’ve recreated the salad below. Winter vegetables thinly sliced and deliciously dressed in zesty lemon vinaigrette (a winter favorite, also used here), tons of pecorino, and toasted pine nuts. Liter of wine and manhattans optional.
One Year Ago: Spelt and Jam Scones (Again with the new-year-new-me theme…)
Shaved Winter Vegetable Salad
For the Salad
- 10 medium brussel sprouts, trimmed and very finely sliced
- 6 large leaves Tuscan kale, stems removed and very finely sliced
- 1 large handful baby arugula
- ½ bulb fennel, trimmed and very finely sliced (optional)
- 2 ounces pecorino cheese, coarsely grated
- 1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted
For the Dressing
- 1 small garlic clove or ½ large clove
- Pinch red pepper flakes
- Pinch salt
- Fresh ground black pepper
- Juice of half a lemon, or more to taste
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp finely grated pecorino cheese
Combine all salad ingredients in a large bowl and set aside while you prepare the dressing.
For the dressing, add the garlic, red pepper flakes, salt, and black pepper to a mortar and pestle and pound until a paste forms. Add the lemon juice and mix well. Whisk in the olive oil and the grated pecorino.
Toss the salad with the dressing and taste for seasoning – adding more salt, pepper, lemon juice, or olive oil as needed.