Saturday, January 22, 2011

A Simple Winter Salad for a Healthy Weeknight Meal

You know those weeks. You plan ahead, purchasing some yummy fruits, vegetables, and proteins with the best of intentions to cook every night you're home that week. 

Then the week begins, and you're swallowed WHOLE. Yes, you typically work late one night a week, and sometimes take work home on an additional evening. But EVERY NIGHT?! For me, it happens often, and typically on those weeks I've planned on cooking every night -- not working.

Now, this is where my favorite part of cooking comes in -- making do with what you have and the time you're dealt. I planned on making a bunch of rice and some lentil stews this week; healthy and light, yet filling and nutritious. Now that time I was to devote to the kitchen was to be spent in front of my laptop.

What to do? Be imaginative. 

Tuesday night, I began the week whipping up a big batch of Wild Mushroom Soup. Did I eat it for dinner? Nope. While I was busy chopping vegetables, I put a big pot of water on for a couple nights worth of whole wheat and einkorn pastas (I also had to make my saucepan multi-task for me; I only have one saucepan!). Then once the pasta was ready, I drained it and put the pot back to work, sauteing onions, garlic, and carrot for the soup.

While I dined on a hearty whole wheat pasta, tossed with sauteed beet greens, beets (inspired by an old favorite), and a dab of some leftover Devonshire Cream I had on hand from last week's party, and of course a garnish of Colston Bassett Stilton, I began working on the soup.

Wednesday night, I ended up inhaling two bowls of that soup, garnished with a bit of pasta and proscuitto. Thursday, I dined out with one of my darling friends at my favorite tapas place

Ah, then Friday. It was a beast of a day. Now, Fridays are usually the one day of the week I always work until 8pm. It's quiet, and there are at least three of us laboring away on things for the week ahead. Yeah. That intention went out the door this week! Completely exhausted, I knew it would be better for me to go home and make a nutritious dinner, and tackle that story over the weekend. Both the story, and myself, would benefit from the decision.

The big question remaining: What to make for dinner?

My delicious red and yellow beets I cooked Monday after my run were a must. Of course, they pair perfectly with creamy, salty proscuitto. On top? A lightly dressed spinach salad, and a garnish of carrot coins from the greenmarket. And, because I'm a cheese snob and what goes better with beets than blue cheese, a garnish of my latest favorite, Colston Bassett Stilton.

Beet and Blue Salad

3 slices proscuitto, thinly sliced
1 red beet, cooked until tender
1 yellow beet, cooked until tender
1 large handful baby spinach
Your favorite dressing (mine is equal parts maple syrup, grapeseed oil, and champagne vinegar, shaken with a minced shallot, salt, and pepper)
1 carrot, peeled and sliced thin
Stilton, or your favorite blue cheese, for garnish

Line large dinner plate with proscuitto. Top with slices of beet, alternating colors. Toss greens with dressing, to taste, and place atop beets. Garnish with sliced carrots and blue cheese.

Perfect served with a hearty slice of pain de campagne and a flavorful olive oil.

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