Perfect Winter Salad with a Kumquat, Coffee and Balsamic Vinaigrette

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I haven’t posted in a…long time. If I were to make an assumption as to why I haven’t, as there isn’t a clear answer in my mind (it’s not like I haven’t cooked anything interesting in the last 8months), I think I started this blog thinking I had something to prove, and shortly afterwards, realized I didn’t. As someone with no degree or accreditations to speak of, or a job that parades accomplishments, it was nice being able to share things I was/am proud of. After I sufficiently did that, I eventually lost interest.  Now I’m back to remind myself what I liked and needed from my dear Dear Guts in the first place.

After starting this blog, I felt like I finally had something to say. Like my ideas were valuable, my worth palpable and distinct, that I knew something other people wanted to. Everyone who peered into my virtual kitchen would know I had an arresting combination of passion and skill. The last year was an odd one for me, in terms of going from a most reticent person to broadcasting every thought. All at once it was as if I didn’t know myself anymore, while the rest of the world readily sensed they did. As suddenly as I had found my voice, I was speechless.

Back when I posted often, I was literally a more thoughtful person,  more reflective, constantly contemplating my presence and relationship to the world. And I’d like to get back to that. The food industry is so fucked up, I’d like to hope I can inspire at least a few people to source better ingredients and generally care more about one of the most important things they can do for themselves (cook). I also find it important to share the things you’re proud of..it encourages you to keep doing things you’re proud of. Another thing I hope for Dear Guts this year: a guest-post from Burton on composting (it’s such a massively important thing to do that  nobody else we know does. Whether you have a garden or not, you shouldn’t be putting food in landfills)

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Due to roasting about 50% of its components, this salad is super satisfying in the winter. I’ve made it at least 20 times, but everytime Burton eats it, it’s like the first time he’s ever had a salad. Always pausing in between bites to let me know how good it is, like I couldn’t tell by the look on his face. His genuine yet still over-the-top appreciation for it makes me excited to make it, no matter how many times I have already that week, knowing that as soon as he takes the first bite he won’t be able to stop telling me that it, and I, am the best. I generally use just kale, but the co-op by my house had the saddest kale ever..so spinach/swiss chard/red cabbage it is. It’s hearty, balanced and, I’ve been told, the best.

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The dressing is a Kumquat, Coffee and Balsamic vinaigrette. I put citrus in nearly everything I make this time of year and kumquats are truly winter’s gem (you can even eat the peel, it’s the sweetest part). It pairs so well with the coffee and balsamic. I made the coffee in a french press, but an even better option if time permits is to infuse whole coffee beans into olive oil. That way you don’t have to worry about watering down your dressing and you have some amazing olive oil on hand that would make anything you create with it seem really damn fancy (coffee is an incredibly versatile flavor, the options are endless)

Kumquat, Coffee and Balsamic Vinaigrette

ingredients

  • juice from 2 very ripe kumquats
  • 2 cloves of garlic, smashed
  • 3 tbsp coffee brewed in 1/4 cup water
  • 1/3 cup balsamic
  • 3/4 high quality olive oil
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp black pepper

Steep the coffee and let it cool. Once cooled, add all ingredients to a jar and shake well to combine. If necessary, add more oil/balsamic to taste.

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While being a simple salad, it still has a lot of complex flavors. For example, the contrast between the raw olive oil used in the dressing and the oil used to roast the vegetables with is a fun one. They’re both very apparent and show off different qualities of the same ingredient (the raw is slightly more herbaceous, peppery and grassy, while after roasting it gives off more round, harmonious traits).  I prefer using asian pears when roasting because they’re still firm when ripe and a lot less juicy, so they remain crunchy even after applying heat. I’m not sure why all conventional wisdom out there regarding boiling eggs tells you to put them in a pot and bring them to a boil. Without fail, every time I do it that way they’re impossible to peel. I put them into boiling water and they come out beautifully, so fuck that noise.

Perfect Winter Salad

ingredients

  • 3 inch long fennel stalk (I realize most people don’t eat the stalks..I like the contrast of the celery-like flavor they have to the rest of the very licoricey plant)
  • small bunch of fennel fronds (3 or 4)
  • 10-15 medium-large brussel’s sprouts, cut in half (be sure to roast any outer leaves that fall off, they get crispy and delicious)
  • 1 head of broccoli, cut into crowns
  • 1 cup diced butternut squash or sweet potato
  • 1/2 an asian pear, cored and sliced thin
  • 5 stalks of asparagus
  • 1 cup sliced red cabbage
  • 1/4 cup of parsley leaves
  • 2 cups spinach
  • 2 leaves swiss chard
  • tons of chopped leeks! (like 1/3 cup)
  • 1/2 cup raw pecans
  • 2 large eggs
  • olive oil, salt and pepper for roasting
  • Kumquat, Coffee and Balsamic Vinaigrette

 

Preheat oven to 475 and start boiling water for the soft-boiled eggs. Prepare your vegetables and pear for roasting, coating them in olive oil and salt and pepper. At the same time, place the eggs in the boiling water and your vegetables in the oven. After 6 minutes, place your eggs in an ice bath and add the pecans to the sheet of roasting vegetables. Roast for 3 more minutes, then remove from the oven and allow to cool.

Add all the leafy greens to a large bowl and toss. Add the roasted vegetables along with the vinaigrette and toss well. Carefully peel your eggs, cut them in half and nestle them safely into the salad. Top with freshly grated pepper and (optionally) red pepper flakes.

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