Good, Healthy Food Starts with Good, Healthy Ethics – Wintertime Salads

GOOD, HEALTHY FOOD STARTS WITH GOOD, HEALTHY ETHICS

Healthy food products are propagated by the conscientious farmer in collaboration with the land, fauna, and flora.  The farmer nurtures the land, keeps animals in a proper and safe way, and takes great care when cultivating plants and crops.  The reward is healthy and tasty food.  It seems so many have forgotten about nature’s values and the importance of health, and have exchanged it all for convenience and cheaper prices.  And at what a cost!  We have in this country animal and plant foods which, in worst cases, have never even come close to nature or had anything to do with it. 

Easton Farmer's Market in Easton, Pennsylvania

Easton Farmer’s Market in Easton, Pennsylvania

What Can I do?

First of all, I would like to encourage all of you to think about what you buy.  Buying locally, seasonally, and knowing your producers and farmers is a delightful and rewarding way to shop.  At one time, if you lived in the city, this was not an easy thing to do.  But today, small farmer’s markets are popping up all over, including cities, and personally, I have watched this number grow significantly in the last 5 years alone, and I am thrilled!  Prioritize!  By seeking out and demanding local foods, sustainable farming, organic foods and sound animal welfare, you prioritize!  Listen…if we ALL make a difference just once in a while, we have already come a long way!  Try it. If we can recreate the right balance between plants and land and animals, we can make a huge difference, which in the end is what puts us in sync with the seasons and puts food on our tables.

Local Produce in Season

Buying locally grown and cultivated food is a welcome alternative to the scope of foods offered in supermarkets.  When you visit a local farmer’s market, you can engage in conversation with the producers and even get tips on how to cook from the very person who grew it!  Another advantage is that you get to know how that farmer cultivates his or her land.  Often times you can buy the meat of old time heritage breeds, and also heirloom varieties of fruits and vegetables from your region.  How great is that?  And when produce is in season and there is an overabundance, you will pay less money.   At the same time, you reduce the carbon footprint by shortening the distance between farm to fork—for food that is fresh and chock full of nutrients, and therefore putting less of a burden on the environment—and all the while supporting local farmers.  It is such a win-win situation all the way around!

Animal Welfare

Did you know that over 95% of the world’s livestock are bred in intensive-type systems, with no legal requirement that they EVER see the light of day or have access to pasture?  When you buy a piece of meat from your supermarket, it is nearly impossible to tell where that animal came from or how it has been treated.  By making a conscientious choice, the next time you purchase meat or poultry you can help to improve the animals’ living conditions and ensure they have pastureland.  Small-scale farmers are often where you will see the best animal welfare.  Most times these farmers grow crops and have gardens too and so are not solely reliant on their livestock.  Even if you live in the city, you can still make agreements with many small farms.  For instance, you and a few others could join forces and purchase a side of beef or a whole or half hog.  In this way, you will pay less for your meat, and you also know it was raised in a conscientious manner and it has been freshly slaughtered in a humane way. 

Now, governments, fishermen, and groups are working together to prevent overfishing, and to bring red snapper populations back to sustainable levels---the red snapper is on the road to recovery!

Now, governments, fishermen, and groups are working together to prevent overfishing, and to bring red snapper populations back to sustainable levels—the red snapper is on the road to recovery!

Sustainable Fishing

With the figure steadily rising, more than 75% of the world’s oceans are overfished.  Large industrial companies use vessels that employ bottom trawling, whereby heavy nets are dragged across the seabed, which also catches many of the “unwanted” varieties of fish, which get caught in the nets and are needlessly discarded.  Such a waste of life—not to mention the same method destroys coral and stone reefs on the seabed.  These tactics outcompete the small fishermen who fish responsibly.  What you can do is buy fish that is in season and from your region—preferably from a fish monger you have come to know.  Choose fish that has been caught using equipment that is easy on Mother Nature like lines, hooks, traps, pots and jigs.  If you have to shop in a supermarket, choose fish bearing the MSC (Marine Steward Council) label.  MSC is a private labeling system that promotes and strives for sustainable, environmentally friendly fishing.  Please note that this organization also helps fishermen in poorer countries with certification.

WINTERTIME SALADS

What’s in season and what to look for…

Red Beets
Carrots
Cabbage
Parsnips
Jerusalem Artichokes

Potatoes
Sweet Potatoes
Turnips
Rutabagas
Kale
Spinach
Apples
Pears
Citrus fruits
Pineapples

Winter…

Does a salad mean lettuce?  Goodness no, not in the wintertime!  In the winter, salads take on a different look.  There are pickled red beets and salads made with cabbage, carrots or apples—all of which have been preserved in root cellars by many.  Your local farmers can provide a nice variety of root veggies too, and don’t forget about SPROUTS—radish, bean and alfalfa sprouts make wonderful and nutritious wintertime salads…but no lettuce.

Signature Offering by Annette O. Corona – All Rights Reserved

Beautiful Satsuma Mandarin Oranges!

Beautiful Satsuma Mandarin Oranges!

Beet Salad with Orange Yogurt Dressing
Makes 4 servings

This is a tart-sweet salad with an elegant orange flavor that reaches across your whole palate.  It could not be any easier to make and it looks pretty scooped onto individual beds of tender-crisp steamed beet greens, kale or cabbage.  It is the ideal accompaniment to juicy roast duck or a nice smoked fish, and if you serve some boiled potatoes slathered with spicy mustard as a side dish, you have a beautiful winter meal.

To make the orange yogurt dressing:  (Makes about 1½-cups)

1 cup strained plain yogurt
2 heaping tablespoons freshly grated orange zest
½-teaspoon ground cardamom
Pinch of chili flakes
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/4-teaspoon each:  sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Put the yogurt into a bowl and whisk in the remaining ingredients.  Leave the yogurt to stand at room temperature for at least 30 minutes for the flavors to infuse.  Taste, and add more salt and black pepper if necessary.  Drizzle on top of the beet salad, or drizzle over pan-fried cabbage or bitter leaves like radicchio or frisee.

To prepare the beet salad:

4 medium-size red beets with tap root attached, greens removed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon orange blossom honey
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
Pinch of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Put the beets into a medium-size saucepan and cover with cold water.  Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce to medium-low and cook the beets until fork-tender, about 30-40 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, honey, vinegar, salt and black pepper.

When tender, remove the beets with a slotted spoon and when cool enough to handle, but still warm, cut the stem and tap root away and slice.  Place the slice beets into a bowl and toss with the olive oil dressing.  Transfer the beets to a shallow serving dish and pour the orange yogurt dressing over top.  Serve immediately. 

Refrigerate any remaining salad. 

NOTE:  This beet salad with the orange yogurt dressing is also quite tasty served cold. Serve as a brunch dish with sliced hard-cooked eggs or sliced chicken or turkey place on top.  Delicious!

Signature Offering by Annette O. Corona – All Rights Reserved

Baked Jerusalem Artichoke Salad with Hickory Nut Bacon Vinaigrette
Makes 4 servings

Jerusalem artichokes are a tuber related to the sunflower and thought to be named after it.  They have a distinctive flavor reminiscent of globe artichokes, but not as delicate.  Jerusalem artichokes look like small oddly-shaped roots with small knobs and can be peeled either before or after cooking, or not at all.  I do not peel them for this salad, although you certainly can, and I underscore their nutty flavor by using walnut oil when roasting.  One must remember to keep an eye on the chokes when roasting so they do not overcook and become mushy!

Hickory nuts are a love of mine, and I buy them shelled every year from the Pennsylvania Nut Growers Association.   Hickory nuts are the fruit of the hickory tree, which is in the walnut family.  The nuts themselves can be difficult to crack open, so I opt to buy them shelled—just so much easier.  Hickory trees bear their fruit in late fall, right about the time of the holiday season.  Of course, if you cannot locate hickory nuts, feel free to substitute walnuts or pecans—and feel free to substitute hickory nuts for walnuts and pecans in your holiday recipes! 

Bosc pears - a lovely addition to any wintertime salad

Bosc pears – a lovely addition to any wintertime salad

In this recipe, smoky bacon, along with orange peel flavors the vinaigrette, and Bosc pears go beautifully with the roasted Jerusalem artichokes.  One can also serve it by adding finely cut strips of an underused bitter green like radicchio—either way, it is sure to become a household favorite wintertime salad. 

Baked Jerusalem Artichokes:

2 pounds scrubbed Jerusalem artichokes
1 tablespoon walnut oil
½-teaspoon each:  sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Pat the scrubbed Jerusalem artichokes dry with a kitchen towel, cut in half, and put on a baking sheet; toss with walnut oil and sprinkle with salt and black pepper.  Roast for about 20-30 minutes until tender-crisp and golden; cover the pan lightly with aluminum foil to keep the artichokes warm. 

To make the Hickory Nut Bacon Vinaigrette: (Makes about a ½-cup)

3 thick slices smoky bacon
1 tablespoon boiling water
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons lightly flavored oil (like avocado oil or peanut oil)
2 tablespoons satsuma mandarin orange juice
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 teaspoons finely chopped satsuma mandarin orange peel
1/2-cup toasted hickory nuts, chopped
1/2-teaspoon each:  sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

To assemble the salad:
3 Bosc pears
1-2 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley to garnish

Fry the bacon in a small skillet over medium-low heat until crisp.  Once ready, place the bacon on a cutting board, and pour off any melted bacon drippings (save for other recipes).   Put the 1 tablespoon boiling water into the skillet, swish it around, and then pour it into a large serving bowl; chop the bacon and put it in the bowl and stir in the vinegar, oil, orange juice, garlic, orange peel, hickory nuts, salt and black pepper. 

Halve and core the Bosc pears; cut into bite-size pieces and add along with the roasted Jerusalem artichokes, mixing well.   Taste and add more salt and black pepper if necessary, and sprinkle with freshly chopped parsley.  Serve. 

Happy New Year!  Thank you for subscribing and please pass along my website and blog info to all your friends and family…I would so appreciate that…blessings on your plate everyone.

Annette


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