Monday, January 16, 2017

salad days

Today's meals are brought to you by Caesar salad.

A respite from the rain - it is finally sunny, and so eating salad doesn't sound like the worst idea in the world. The Romaine in my crisper had suffered long enough. Out it came with a similarly languishing head of cauliflower to make this delightful Roasted Cauliflower Salad with Avocado Caesar Dressing.

This salad isn't revolutionary, but it combines a lot of my favorite things - roasted cauliflower, crisped up Parmesan, and the easiest, richest Caesar dressing funked up with both anchovies and anchovy oil, but smoothed out with rich avocado, and pregnancy-safe with prepared mayo. 

You can certainly make it more interesting by using sturdier greens - kale comes to mind, either alone or in combo with the traditional Romaine, but it felt like a celebration to keep things just fresh and simple. It was already nice with just a side of new sunshine.

Roasted Cauliflower Salad with Avocado Caesar Dressing
inspired by Beard & Bonnet
serves 2 as an entree, 4 as a side

For the salad:
1 head cauliflower, cut into small florets
olive oil, for roasting
salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 c. grated Parmesan
1/2 Romaine heart

For the dressing:
1 t. minced anchovies
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 t. fish sauce
1 t. Dijon mustard
1 medium avocado, mashed
1/2 c. mayonnaise
1/4 c. olive oil
drained oil from a 2-oz. tin of anchovies

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. 

2. Toss the cauliflower florets with olive oil to lightly coat, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Roast on a baking sheet in one layer for 30 minutes.

3. Combine all of the dressing ingredients in a medium bowl, and whisk to thoroughly combine. If you prefer a smoother dressing, use a food processor.

4. After 30 minutes, remove the sheet from the oven, and sprinkle the grated Parmesan evenly over the cauliflower. Toss to coat, then place back in the oven and roast for an additional 5 minutes. 

4. In a large mixing bowl, combine the lettuce and cauliflower. Add dressing to taste, and toss to thoroughly combine. Serve immediately. 

Later that day, I started feeling bad that I didn't really have a side going for this Phyllo-Wrapped Salmon + Spinach, so I took the other half of my Romaine heart from lunch, and simply tossed it with that divine avocado Caesar dressing. Sure, the phyllo wraps had spinach in them, but the plate didn't look right without something else next to it. This was a nice combo of flavors and textures - the rich warm salmon and spinach-ricotta mixture encased in the flaky phyllo, and the fresh and bright, but funky, dressed lettuce.

Phyllo-Wrapped Salmon + Spinach
slightly adapted from Kraft Recipes
serves 4

1 10-oz. package of frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
4 oz. ricotta
12 sheets of phyllo dough
4 salmon fillets (1 lb. total)
salt and pepper, to taste
melted ghee

1. Heat the oven to 425 degrees.

2. In a small bowl, mix together the spinach and ricotta. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and set aside.

3. Unwrap one sheet of phyllo dough, and brush it with some melted ghee. Top with a second phyllo sheet, brush with ghee, and repeat with a 3rd sheet. 

4. Place 1 fish fillet along one short side of phyllo stack, and top with 1/4th of the spinach mixture. Fold over the long sides of the phyllo, then roll up, starting at fish-topped side. Repeat with remaining phyllo sheets, fish and spinach mixture. 

5. Place all of the wraps, seam sides down, on a baking sheet, and brush the tops with more melted ghee. Cut 3 diagonal slits in the top of each wrap, and bake 10-12 minutes. or until the crusts are golden brown, and the internal temperature of the fish reaches 145 degrees. Slice on the diagonal and serve.

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