If someone were to say the word “salad,” what would come to mind? If you’re like most people in the U.S., you immediately envision a plate of greens, possibly decorated with some tomatoes.
Unfortunately, growing water-intensive crops like greens in the deserts of the West and shipping them in refrigerated trucks to the Midwest makes no environmental sense. This same long-distance shipping is also the reason that, even in the heart of summer, most restaurant and grocery store tomatoes are tasteless.
By limiting our definition of salad, we miss out on a lot of opportunities to showcase local and seasonal vegetables year round. Between October and April we relegate our produce to the side of the plate. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
One of the best salads I had this winter was made from roasted red and golden beets and crumbled goat cheese, dressed with a simple vinaigrette. Steamed, thinly sliced golden beet and shredded fennel dressed with a little crème fraîche or yogurt also makes a great salad. Frequently during the winter we will make a salad of shredded carrot and daikon radish and dress it with equal parts of sugar, water, and mild cider vinegar. Even when fresh greens aren’t available there are several options for making salads with local and/or seasonal produce like the warm lentil salad from January.
Of course, March is that in-between time, when the winter stash is all but gone and the spring crops aren’t yet here in quantity. If you are willing to think beyond greens and tomatoes, though, you can still eat locally. This salad uses a dressing made with the first of this season’s chives to dress up the last of the winter potatoes. Making salad dressing is not difficult. However, do note that the egg in this recipe isn’t cooked. Make sure that you are using eggs from chickens that have not been given antibiotics so that you are not stirring up a biohazard. You can find local eggs raised without antibiotics at Common Ground Food Cooperative in Urbana. This dressing is also great on mixed spring greens when they arrive in a few more weeks.
Winter Potato Salad
Thinly slice and steam one potato per person. Steam potatoes until just fork tender. While potatoes are still warm, arrange on plates. Drizzle with dressing.
- 1 whole egg raised without antibiotics
- 3 T sharp yellow mustard
- ½ c canola oil
- ¼ c mild cider vinegar
- ¼ t salt or to taste
- Dash fresh ground black pepper to taste
- 1 t minced fresh chives, OR
- ½ t each of dried basil, tarragon, and dill
Break egg into small mixing bowl. Wisk in mustard. Slowly drizzle in oil, while constantly wisking to maintain the emulsion. Stir in vinegar and seasonings.
Allow dressing to sit for 15 minutes prior to using so that the vinegar can continue to thicken it.