Tag Archives: Arugula

Winter Greens And A Lovely Salad Recipe to Use Them

In the early morning, when I open the garden gate to get Cocoa Bunny a leafy snack (if I don’t she attacks me when I refill her food bowl), the lettuce and kale and chard and mustard and arugula all have an eerie luminescence to them. They look frozen, but really there’s some kind of antifreeze science going on—a higher sugar content in the cells that keeps the leaves from truly freezing. By mid-morning, they look well, normal, again. Normal if it were September, I’d say.

But it’s December and it amazes me how many green leafy things are still thriving in the garden (see photos below). I only have a few things covered—spinach and some lettuce—but the rest are just hanging out in the elements and surviving. And not because of any magical horticultural genius on my part. So what if understanding the science is not my strong point? I’m happy to be able to make lovely winter-green salads for as long as the garden will let me. And when everything dies, I’m going to have to resort to buying something for Cocoa—unless Plan B works, and I wind up having a supply of greens in January.

I have four flats of gorgeous lettuce and bok choy seedlings growing in the cold frame. I’ve never had better looking seedlings, probably because we always have everything awkwardly crammed under indoor lights. The plan was to get these transplanted into the hoop house—under a double cover system that would effectively raise the temperature a few degrees. (The film on the hoop house being the first layer, another smaller hoop of film directly over the bed being another.) I’ve prepared the bed, but the problem is that the first layer of film is no longer on the hoop house. It got damaged in the Nor ‘Easter (after surviving the hurricane) and repairing it is now on a mounting list of things for Roy to do.

Certainly not worth spending more than a nanosecond worrying about that dilemma. Instead I want to offer you a fabulous winter salad recipe that you can use no matter where your greens come from. It’s a recipe from The Fresh & Green Table that I reluctantly cut from the “favorites” list last week because it’s a side salad, not a main event. But it is lovely nonetheless so I pass it along to you now. Refreshing, crisp, and bright, it pairs well with hearty dishes like gratins or ragouts, or it can star as a first or last course before or after the Christmas roast beef.

The salad features a trio of greens that I particularly like for their contrasting color and texture—endive, arugula, and frisee (or inner escarole leaves). For special salads like this, I prefer to make a custom mix of greens, rather than relying on store-bought mixes that often are past their prime or don’t hold up well when dressed. A sherry maple vinaigrette, blue cheese, and toasted hazelnuts offer all the right sweet and salty notes to bring this salad together. Be sure to use a nice blue cheese like Roquefort or Stilton, and don’t buy pre-crumbled blue cheese.

Winter Green and White Side Salad with Blue Cheese and Hazelnuts

Recipe copyright Susie Middleton. Photo at top by Annabelle Breakey. From The Fresh & Green Table (Chronicle Books, 2012.)

Any night you want to serve this salad, you can prepare the greens ahead; put them in a salad bowl, cover with a damp towel, and refrigerate. (Use leftover outer escarole leaves in soup.) And since the vinaigrette keeps for at least a week in the fridge, that’s a make-ahead too; just be sure to bring it to room temp before dressing. You can also easily double the salad ingredients to serve a crowd, since there’s plenty of extra vinaigrette here.


For the vinaigrette

7 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons sherry vinegar

1 teaspoon orange juice

1 teaspoon maple syrup

1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Kosher salt

Freshly ground pepper

For the salad

3 ounces baby arugula leaves (about 6 cups, loosely packed)

3 ounces inner escarole leaves (white, yellow and palest green parts), torn into small pieces (about 4 cups), washed and very well dried

2 small endive (4 to 5 ounces each), cut crosswise into 3/4-inch wide pieces, core discarded (about 2 1/2 cups)

3 ounces Roquefort, Stilton, or other good-quality blue cheese, crumbled while still cold (about 1/2 cup)

1/2 cup very coarsely chopped hazelnuts, toasted


For the vinaigrette

Combine the olive oil, sherry vinegar, orange juice, maple syrup, lemon zest, Dijon mustard, about 1/8 teaspoon salt, and several grounds of fresh pepper in a glass jar or Pyrex liquid measuring cup. Whisk or shake well and taste.

For the salad

Put the arugula, escarole, and endive in a wide shallow bowl and toss with your hands to combine. Spoon 2 to 3 tablespoons of the vinaigrette over leaves and toss well. Taste and add just a bit more dressing if needed. Add the blue cheese to the salad and gently mix it with the greens (again using your hands) breaking the blue cheese up further to spread it throughout the greens. (A creamy blue will smear slightly—which is a good thing.) Mound the salad evenly onto four plates, and sprinkle the toasted hazelnuts over each portion. Serve right away.

Serves 4

Winter Whites and Something Bright—Roasted Cauliflower with Double-Lemon Ginger Dressing

Guess I am a little late to the party. Here I have been thinking I have some extra-special arugula-growing talent, because mine is still alive in the garden in late January. (Yes, and I’ve reminded everyone of this in nearly every recent blog.) And never mind that it’s been incredibly mild this year—we  had 8 inches of snow on Saturday, so now we can officially call it winter. (Though it’s already back up to 45 degrees!) I got a huge kick out of digging under the snow (and the row cover) on Sunday to find the arugula still percolating  away underneath.

But it turns out that I don’t have a special talent—apparently arugula is about the heartiest green you can grow. And with just a little protection, you can keep it going through the coldest months around here if you give it a good head start in the fall. It will do most of its growing before December, but if you’ve planted enough, you can just keep harvesting it all winter. This is a very exciting concept for me—having salad greens all year ‘round. The arugula was more or less an accident this winter, but come this fall, I’ll deliberately plant mâche (also called lamb’s lettuce—mild, nutty, and delicious) and spinach, too, for winter harvesting.

Right now, though, I am eating arugula with everything that will stand still long enough. Today that meant roasted cauliflower, which I’ve been craving something bad. I’m not sure why, though I do have a thing about winter whites. I love the color white (I collect Ironstone dishes) and when the snow started falling, cauliflower and endive and baby turnips and pearl onions began floating through my mind. I finally bought a head of cauliflower today, and decided to pair it with something bright and zingy. I love citrus with veggies this time of year, and I remembered a great dressing I put together for a carrot salad (of all things!) in Fast, Fresh & Green. It stars one of my favorite ingredients—crystallized ginger—along with lemon zest, lemon juice, and orange juice. Just the combo to counter the intensely sweet, nutty flavors of roasted cauliflower. So I gave it a go. Turns out the dressing is terrific with cauliflower—but even better with arugula. (I used the greens as a bed for the roasted veggies). So I will use the dressing again with hearty winter green salads. But the cauliflower combo was just right today—a bright spot on a cool (not exactly cold) winter day.

Roasted Cauliflower with Double-Lemon Ginger Dressing and a Spritz of Arugula

For a printable version of this recipe, click here.

For another way to dress up roasted cauliflower, see the compound butter idea in this post. You will probably not use all of the ginger dressing—save any extra for a green salad. In summertime, the dressing would also be a great marinade for shrimp before they hit the grill.  A few toasted chopped almonds would make a nice addition to this dish. You could also pair the whole thing with some cooked whole grains, such as wheatberries, farro, or brown rice, to make a delicious vegetarian main dish salad.

1 pound cauliflower florets (from about 1 small head), each cut into pieces about 1 ½  inches long with one flat side (see photos)

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Double-Lemon Ginger Dresssing

2 cups (more or less) arugula leaves, washed and dried

Heat the oven to 475 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. In a mixing bowl, toss the florets gently but thoroughly with the olive oil and salt. Spread the florets out on the sheet pan in one layer, flat side down. (Scrape any remaining salt and oil out of the bowl onto the florets). Roast until the bottom of the florets are well-browned and the tops are starting to brown, 20 to 24 minutes. (You can turn them once with tongs about ¾ way through cooking, but do leave the flat side in contact with the sheet pan for about the first 12 to15 minutes so that it will get nicely caramelized.)

Gently transfer the warm florets to a mixing bowl and drizzle with as much dressing as you like (start with about half; you will not use it all). Toss the arugula leaves with a teaspoon or two of the dressing and arrange the leaves on a platter or plates. Top with the dressed, roasted cauliflower and serve right away (the cauliflower cools quickly.)

Serves 3 to 4 as a side dish.

Double-Lemon Ginger Dressing

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon finely minced crystallized ginger

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

2 teaspoons orange juice

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest

pinch of kosher salt

Combine the olive oil, the ginger, the lemon juice, the orange juice, the lemon zest and the salt in a small bowl and whisk well. Re-whisk before dressing. Store any leftover dressing covered in the fridge.