Monday, February 18, 2008

Mid-Winter Salad

I made a delicious salad last week for our Valentine's Day Dinner that was chock full of goodies. Here in Central New York, there are few local/seasonal ingredients available at this time of year, so I generally rely on imported and canned products until spring rolls around. Even so, one can be creative, right?

My salad included mixed baby greens, grape tomatoes, sliced cucumber, artichoke hearts, beet slices (cut into heart shapes, of course), black olives, crisp-fried bacon, shaved romano cheese and toasted polenta triangles. Served with the option of a lemon vinaigrette or red wine vinaigrette, it was a tasty addition to our meal.

Mid-Winter Salad
serves 6

5 ounces salad greens of choice, washed and dried
two good handfuls grape or cherry tomatoes, or 2 large tomatoes, cut into wedges
1 large cucumber, peeled and cut into thick slices, each slice cut into 4 wedges
1 15-ounce can artichoke hearts, drained
1 15-ounce can black olives, drained
1 8-ounce can beet slices
about 6 slices bacon, fried crisp and drained on paper towels
several shavings romano (or parmesan) cheese - I used a vegetable peeler for a good dozen wide slices
toasted polenta trianges (recipe follows)

Combine salad greens, tomatoes, cucumber, artichoke hearts and olives in a large bowl. Toss with hands to combine and transfer to a serving dish or platter. Top decoratively with beet slices, bacon, cheese shavings and toasted polenta. Serve with salad dressings of choice.

Mr.W and I find ourselves craving all things citrus at this time of year, so we like a lemon vinaigrette--see my recipe here.

Toasted Polenta Triangles

2-1/2 cups low-salt chicken broth
1 cup polenta (I used Goya brand coarse yellow corn meal)
canola spray
olive oil
grated parmesan cheese

Spray a square or loaf-shaped pan with canola spray and set aside.

Heat chicken broth over medium-high heat in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Whisking constantly, add cornmeal in a slow stream until fully incorporated. Reduce heat to medium and stir constantly with a wooden spoon as the mixture cooks.

The polenta is done when it comes easily away from the sides of the pot. I found this took about 10 minutes.

Pour hot polenta into prepared pan; press wax paper or plastic wrap onto the surface and set aside to cool. I used an 8-inch glass square pan; I let it sit until it was room temperature, then transferred to the refrigerator for a few hours.

When completely cooled, turn polenta out onto a cutting board. Cut into desired shapes. I used a round cookie-cutter and then cut each circle into four wedges.

Heat a saucepan with about 3 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat; when oil shimmers, carefully add polenta to the pan. You may wish to have a lid handy to help shield yourself from oil splatters. Although a bit dangerous, this step will ensure a nice, crispy crust on those polenta cakes.

Turn your cakes when they have nice golden color on the first side. Immediately sprinkle generously with parmesan cheese for extra flavor. It won't take long for the second side to crisp up. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.

Use immediately.

This is my entry for this month's "Watier, There's Something in My... Salad" event hosted by Spittoon Extra!

Sadly, Andrew forgot me in his roundup... but lots of other great salads there.


Chris said...

This looks like a salad I would devour! I love the toasted polenta triangles. Will have to remember that!

Mrs. W said...

Hi, Chris,

The toasted polenta was much better than I thought it would be--certainly a great gluten-free crouton option. And I do love something crunchy in my salad!

Your profile pic is great, by the way!

Lulu said...

Mmm...delicious looking as always!

Mrs. W said...

Thanks! It was good. And a lot.

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