In winter, my salad consumption drops dramatically. This is partly because I think winter is for hot cocoa, soups, casseroles, and other foods that warm you from the inside out. Partly, I think it's because we all know that animals couldn't hibernate based on a salad diet, so it seems to go slightly against nature. However, I don't actually want to put on 30 pounds and sleep for 4 months, so sometimes a salad is what's called for.
The secret to winter salads is to base them around heartier, more substantial vegetables, and to make the flavors zing. In my vegetable box this week, I got a butternut squash and a few beets. Roasted, the sugars in the squash become toasty and caramel flavored while the texture goes wonderfully soft, and the beets retain a wonderful density. Both vegetables are on the sweet side, so I dressed the salad with a very lemony dressing to add acidity for balance. To make the salad more of a meal, and to add some needed saltiness, I bought some halloumi to grill.
For those of you who have never had grilled halloumi, you are in for a treat. Everyone loves a grilled cheese sandwich. But halloumi is cheese that can go straight on the grill. It looks like a hard mozzarella right out of the package, but add some fire and it softens, then crisps up and browns. It is indeed something magical.
All in all, this is a great salad for the cool evenings. Also, I might add, it makes a great lunch that does not induce post-prandial hibernation. Sleepiness might be good for bears, not so much for the working stiff.
Butternut squash, roast beets and grilled halloumi salad
Cubed butternut squash, roasted
Wedges of beets, roasted or boiled and peeled
Slices of halloumi, grilled in a nonstick pan until browned on both sides
Watercress, arugula, or other peppery leaf
Dressing made with 1 part lemon juice, 2 parts olive oil, dash of Dijon mustard whisked together
Mix dressing in a bowl. Toss all ingredients except beets with the dressing in the bowl and plate. Toss beets in the bowl to coat with remaining dressing, then add to salad. (Or, if you don't mind them bleeding onto the rest of the salad, toss all together at the same time.)