Cabbages & Fennel Salad + Calabrese Frito: Preserved Lemon Dressing

At last the unveiling! I present to you the preserved lemons I put up this past summer. They’ve been patiently marinating in the back of my fridge all these months. They’ve been shoved back and forth, used to prop up other things, been in the way, and sometimes completely forgotten- but now here they are- front and center!

Last week, while walking the streets of the city, I was sure I picked up the faintest scent of spring. There was that damp earth coolness, with the back end of sunshine in the breeze. I smelled it, I’m sure I did. Like a drug it got my heart to beat faster and put a smile on my face.

I remember once while riding the subway, I overheard someone (who apparently was from California), say, “New Yorkers are so desperate for sunshine and warmth that when they get a nice day they practically get intoxicated by it!” She scoffed and Pfft!, and then went on to say something to the effect that a life living in perpetual sunshine was the way to go- Really? I don’t doubt that continuous loveliness would not be a fine thing, but I DO get all giddy at the change of seasons. It’s magical to me, and who doesn’t like getting intoxicated from time to time?!?

I ask you, is a steady stream of nice really better than a life with bursts of delight? I am not a particular fan of the gray doldrums of winter, but there is a rhythm to it. It touches my soul that the earth can take such a beating from the bitter winds, and then come back with heartbreaking beauty and tenderness. How wonderful it is to be reminded of regrowth, of the ups and downs of life, that even though things look bleak- it’s really just an incubator for the next. It’s the wane to the wax. It’s Grace.

I’m all about it.

All this is to say that good things are the gifts of patience. Like my lemons. Ah my lovely little lemons! I packed them with love, with anticipation, with slow expectation- and now they have surfaced as my winter blossom.

This is a simple salad, full of heart healthy cruciferous vegetables. Layers of finely shredded green cabbage, thinly sliced Brussels sprouts and shaved fennel, dressed with a creamy yogurt and preserved lemon dressing. I pan fried slices of Calabrese salami to a delicate crisp for a little fine texture and saltiness.

We are always growing and evolving and changing. As the Buddhists say: Life is a river. The river flows and moves along its course, and though it may seem like a static thing- that river over there- it is in fact, always changing- and never the same.

I believe that I am a river- and I take pleasure in the splashing.

Cabbages and Fennel Salad + Preserved Lemon Dressing
Perserved lemons can be found in many markets these days. Be sure to rinse them well to remove some of the saltiness of the brine. Preserved lemons have a mild, unique taste that I invite you to try, but if you can’t get your hands on any, you can use grated lemon peel in its place.
serves 4
1 preserved lemon, rind only, finely minced
1 c Greek yogurt, plain
2 t white vinegar
1T olive oil
{no need for salt, there is plenty in the lemons}
4 slices Calabrese salami

2 c finely shredded green cabbage
1 c Brussels sprouts, thinly sliced
1 fennel bulb, shaved thinly on a mandoline

In a small bowl combine the lemon, yogurt, vinegar and oil. Set aside and allow the flavor of the lemons permeate the yogurt.

Prepare the vegetables. With the fennel, place in cold water after slicing until ready to use.

In a saute pan, over medium heat, carefully fry the salami until crisp, about 2 minutes each side. Drain on paper towels and set aside.

Remove the fennel from the water and pat dry.  Layer the vegetables amongst 4 plates, then drizzle with the dressing.

Top with a slice of the salami.

Happy almost end of winter!


Winter Salad To Support Our Better Days

We all start the same way. “This year it will be more vegetables and more exercise!”
The problem for me is I find it harder to eat vegetables in the Winter. I was once told by an Ayervedic practitioner that I am of a certain type that does not like cold- that is cold in my body. According to her I am better with steamy things, earthier foods and spice. (I’m pretty sure chocolate fits in there somewhere too) Though I don’t know how much stake I put into that thinking, I do have to admit when the cold North wind blows I relate. For instance- though I love yogurt, I’m not prone to eat it in the chiller times, and I drink hot tea now rather than iced tea.
I do cook myself hard squashes when I have the time and adore them, and many a vegetable bin has been transformed into a creamy soup. All this is very well and good, but I so like and need a salad from time to time as well.
This salad is super quick and easy. It is three beautifully dramatic layers of color, texture and tastes. It’s surprising how the three compliment each other. Laced with some feta cheese, some fennel fronds and the zest of the lemon from the dressing it’s just lovely. No need to get fussy here, just grate your veg right over the plate and let them pile on. The dressing is a basic vinaigrette using lemon juice for the acid.
I just let mine sit out for a bit to come to room temperature, then I can blithely dig right in.
Carrot, Fennel and Beet Salad
A loose interpretation of Martha’s Recipe 12/11
serves 2 generously or 4 sides
1 large fennel bulb
2 large carrot, washed
1 large beet or 2 smaller
.25c low fat feta
1 lemon, zested
1t dijon mustard
1sm clove garlic, mashed and minced
enough quality olive oil to balance lemon juice ~6T
First cut the fennel bulb in half and trim the hard knot from the core of the bulb
Using either a mandoline or knife, slice paper thin. Fennel can be a bit hard and tough, but when sliced super thin it’s divine.
Next grate carrots directly on top. I don’t peel my carrots, just give them a good scrub. Plenty of nutrients in that outer skin.
Peel the beet(s) and proceed with the same. Mix up the textures of the vegetables if you like or you can do the whole thing on a box grater.
Sprinkle top with feta cheese to taste along with the lemon zest and small fennel fronds
Make vinaigrette by squeezing juice into a small bowl and stir in the garlic and mustard.
While trying to obtain a 1:3 ratio of acid to oil, slowly whisk in the oil creating creamy goodness. Check for balance and add some S&P to taste.
Drizzle the dressing over the vegetables and let it seep down in and around. No need to toss, though you are more than welcome to- it looks just as beautiful and just as tasty.