There is certainly plenty of material to work with-especially right now in early autumn, when it isn't even that cold yet (especially today-83 degrees is not typical, you hear that you green house gassing Humvee owners?). Late summer crops linger on while the first wave of apples, cabbages and winter-loving brassicas are just hitting the stands of the Dupont Circle Farmers' Market.
Coming up with this winter salad was a matter of looking at my kitchen counter and throwing together about half the fruits and vegetables lying around on it. Keep in mind: this salad was invented to be modified. Don't hesitate to make substitutions or changes-grab this recipe, drag it into your kitchen and let it know who's boss!
The Dijon Mustard Vinaigrette is an adaption of a dressing that I found in the Washington Post, and I find that it is delicious on just about everything. Try it on a hearty roast beef sandwich, on top of a bratwurst or some sauerkraut, brushed over a fish fillet or as a glaze on a chicken breast-it always tastes good!
Autumn Salad 1: Purple Cabbage, Carrots and Apple
This salad serves two as an ample side and one very hungry individual as a hearty main course (you may still have leftovers), but is only about 190 calories for the entire salad (without dressing). Plus it gives you 1 serving of fruit and 2 and 1/2 of vegetables!
1 cup shredded purple cabbage
1 small to medium sized apple, diced
1 medium carrot, shredded
1/4 to 1/3 cup minced onion (more if you like onion, less or none if you don't)
1 tablespoon sunflower seeds
2 tablespoons raisins
Juice of 1/2 lemon
About 1 cup spinach leaves, washed and dried (I have left these out plenty of times and the salad is still delicious, but if you must have something green in it, go with spinach. Lettuce just can't stand up to bold flavours of the cabbage, not to mention the mustard vinaigrette!)
1. Toss everything except raisins together in a large bowl with the lemon juice.
2. Mix the raisins together with about 1/4 cup of the mustard vinaigrette (see recipe below). Place them in the microwave and heat for about 25 seconds. Let them sit for 5-10 minutes until the raisins have plumped up. Pour over the salad, mix together and let sit for about 5 minutes for the flavours to meld. Serve. Don't try saving some of this salad for the next day-it is edible but nowhere near as good as the fresh version, despite being made of heartier ingredients than the highly perishable tomatoes and lettuce of summer.
Dijon Mustard and Olive Oil Vinaigrette
Makes about 1 cup, at approximately 535 calories for the entire recipe, or 34 calories per tablespoon.
1/4 cup good quality olive oil
1/4 cup Dijon or other pungent mustard
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons sugar (or to taste)
a large pinch of salt
Place the mustard in a small bowl. Pour the olive oil into the bowl in a slow stream while whisking to blend. Whisk in the vinegar, lemon juice, sugar and salt. You may add a dash of freshly ground black pepper if you like. Whisk until smooth, then give it a taste and add a bit more sugar if necessary. This makes about 1 cup of dressing which will keep quite well in the fridge. Make sure to bring it to room temperature before using-you may also pop it in the microwave for 10 or 15 seconds if you are in a hurry. If the olive oil has solidified, once the dressing has been brought to room temp you may want to whisk it again to mix everything together before serving.