Fall Vegetable Salad
- 2 cups red oakleaf lettuce – Fresh2o, Stevensburg, VA
- 1 medium fall carrot – Van Dessel Farms, Accomack, VA (Honey herb butter roasted, recipe to follow)
- 1 small apple (CrimsonCrisp, maybe?), chopped – Rock Hill Orchard, Mt. Airy, MD
- 1 ½ tablespoons dried cranberries
- 1 ½ tablespoons Rosemary Chickpeatos (Or any kind of crunchy, nut-like thing, I just happened to have these in my cabinet)
- ¼ cup cooked Quinoa
- 1 ½ tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- ½ tablespoon Dijon mustard
- Pinch of salt
- (Try: 1 teaspoon of honey or sugar, or perhaps brown sugar? Note to follow.)
Honey Herb Butter Roasted Carrots:
- 2 medium fall carrots – Van Dessel Farms, Accomack, VA
- 1 tablespoon melted butter
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary
- 1 teaspoon fresh parsley
You’ll want to roast your carrots a while ahead of time (I roasted mine the night before). Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. In a small bowl, toss together your melted butter, carrots, honey, and herbs. Place your well-rubbed carrots (and any surplus butter/herb mixture) on a baking sheet and roast until tender. I cooked mine for about 40 minutes (they were very robust carrots; short but quite thick in the middle), and they were still a little crunchy, which is how I like them. Additionally, in the interest of full disclosure, phrasing the recipe in this way makes it sound like much more of an exact process than it truly was. In reality I used this recipe from a blog called RasaMalaysia for inspiration; threw an indiscriminate amount of butter, herbs, and honey in a tinfoil pocket with a couple of meaty carrots; and cooked them until the end of the episode of The Great British Baking Show. Fortunately, the carrots are of amazing quality, and you really can’t go wrong with rosemary, honey, and butter. Anyway, the next morning I sliced up one of the carrots and tossed it into my salad with great results.
In terms of the aforementioned salad, for this you’ll also want to cook the quinoa ahead of time, according to the package’s directions. While your quinoa is cooking, mix the lemon juice, vinegar, mustard, salt, and sugar/honey (if you want it) together in a small bowl. Whisk with a fork to combine. Once your quinoa is cooked and your dressing is mixed, toss it all together and drizzle with dressing. Voila! Salad!
Note: The original dressing recipe I used didn’t include honey or sugar (and was meant for 8 cups of salad…). However, I found that the dressing was a little too sharp with the mustard and the vinegar, so I think adding some honey might work well to soften it a little bit. But since I didn’t actually try that, I can’t speak to how well it will work (yet).
(Also check out that neat double-decker lunchbox.)
Now, as I noted before about the carrot situation, using actual measurements and directions for this recipe is massively overstating the amount of thought I put into it. I based the idea on this recipe from Food & Friends, a local nonprofit that provides meals and nutrition services to DC-area individuals diagnosed with HIV/AIDS and other life-challenging illnesses. (They also do an awesome thing at Thanksgiving called Slice of Life where they sell pies and the proceeds go to their organization and to help provide healthy Thanksgiving meals to their clients. If you aren’t local or will be away, you can donate a pie to one of those Thanksgiving meals! So regardless, the organization gets money and SOMEONE gets a pie! You can even choose an individual salesperson/organization and often in-kind donations will be made to that organization. But this has all been one big sidebar. Piedbar.)
So I saw that recipe and thought “Hey, I have some fall vegetables!” And I’ve been looking for ways to use the huge amount of lettuce I got in last week’s bag from Fresh2o in Stevensburg, VA. You should definitely read that grower profile, because they say better than I ever could how awesome the lettuce was. You can also learn some neat things about the farmers and the packaging, which was totally awesome and keeps the lettuce so fresh (so fresh that it’s actually still growing) that I don’t have to worry about eating nothing but salad for a week because I have to work through an entire head of lettuce. Also, apparently, that makes it healthier for you! Long story short, it’s amazing and deserves much better than my higgledy-piggeldy salad concoction. As, incidentally, do those carrots…
The carrots are from Van Dessel Farms in Accomack, VA, just like my beets and potatoes from the Hash-Slinging Slasher. And man, are they awesome. Despite my slapdash approach to roasting, they held together beautifully and the flavor is incredible. A huge and distinctive difference from any random carrot you might pick up at the store. These carrots had character. Carroter, if you will. Plus, I feel alright about my roasting choice – there’s still some nice browned butter, honey, and rosemary flavor (really I just added the parsley because it was in the recipe and I have a couple of plants on my windowsill, I have no idea if it adds anything). The rosemary was also of my windowsill garden, lovingly grown all the way from teeny seeds to a slightly less-teeny plant. I tend to use it a bit sparingly, since it’s still so small it doesn’t quite have its feet under it yet, but I do love fresh rosemary.
That rosemary also meshed well with my crunchy ingredient, Rosemary Chickpeatos. I have no idea where she found them, but my loving mother sent me back with them after visiting her at Thanksgiving. Honestly, I didn’t have high hopes. How could bagged chick peas match freshly roasted chick peas? I thought about the awful things I’ve heard about packaged kale chips and cringed. But boy was I wrong. They’re really quite awesome, THANKS MOM! The rosemary flavor matched up well but wasn’t overpowering, and they make a perfectly crunchy and protein-packed addition to my lunch. In lieu of such an unexpected surprise ingredient, you could just as easily use some kind of nut; however, I recommend you try to find some of these bad boys because they make a great salad crunch or even just everyday snack.
Since I’m going through pretty much every ingredient, I might as well tell you about the apple. Now, this didn’t come in my produce bag (I swear I’m going to make those morning glory muffins, and I won’t use the golden delicious apples I got until then). However, it is locally grown! A few weeks ago I went apple/pumpkin/flower picking at Rock Hill Orchards in Mt. Airy, MD. It was handily the best pick-your-own experience and probably one of the best overall experiences I’ve had. The farm had an apple orchard, vegetable patches, an herb garden, basically a whole field of pick-your-own flowers, a pumpkin patch, other pick-your-own fruits in the summer, AND a dairy farm (with their own ice cream and BABY COWS JUST WAITING FOR YOU TO LOVE THEM). In fact, I loved those baby cows so much that I don’t think I’ve eaten any beef since, and I’ve only eaten chicken twice! That’s how cute they were! Anyway, aside from the adorable conversion experience, they had a great little general store, cold and hot cider, the usual tchotchkes, and the greatest combination of things since coffee-Oreo ice cream: an apple cider donut sundae with pumpkin ice cream (you could’ve gotten any kind of ice cream, but why get something that isn’t pumpkin?). After an overwhelmingly wonderful day of picking produce and crooning over calves and inhaling ice cream, I returned with some pumpkins, wildflowers, and (obviously) apples! Only one had yet gone unused, and I believe it was a CrimsonCrisp. A nice, sweet, small apple who’s finally met her purpose in a friendly fall salad.
I have nothing special to say about the cranberries… I got them at the local Giant? Does that count? Same story with the quinoa, although this was my first experience with the grain so I have no standards by which to judge it. I made it in a rice cooker, which is a fun and easy way to take care of something I have no idea how to work with.
No meltdowns or smoke to report this time around. In fact, this salad (like most salads, I suppose), was so easy I threw it together (with the carrots and quinoa prepared the night before) in the morning before work! While making coffee and oatmeal! And then I ate it while writing this post!
Now visualize a picture of me, laughing alone with this salad.