Winter Salad with Burnt Citrus Vinaigrette

I have a hard time getting behind the salad-as-a-meal concept. Don’t get me wrong, I love salad, but it isn’t a meal. Steak, burgers, nachos, those are meals. Sometimes I try (really!) to eat a salad for lunch, but I always end up eating a pre-dinner about 45 minutes after defeating any attempt to be healthy. Salad just ends up as the in-between of hungry and nachos.

Winter Salad with BurntCitrus Vinaigrette
Winter Salad with Burnt Citrus Vinaigrette
Winter Salad with Burnt Citrus Vinaigrette

So, I got to thinking. How did I use to eat when I traveled over 300 days a year?

Just a quick note, when you travel that much eating right isn’t easy. Wait, that is too generous. It is damn near impossible. If you are jet-lagged in an unfamiliar city with a different time-zone you eat whats fast and that means McDonalds, Chipotle, and Panera. I’m serious (and seriously not proud) when I say I’ve had everything on the Panera menu. But, every once in a while a Whole Foods pops up near your work and that salad bar will save you from travel induced obesity. Every night on my way back to the hotel, I would swing by Whole Foods and make a huge to-go box of kale, mixed-greens, roasted vegetables, and chickpeas.

Whole Foods is the traveling consultant’s best friend. Well, that and a bottle of wine.

Winter Salad with Burnt Citrus Vinaigrette
Winter Salad with Burnt Citrus Vinaigrette

This salad is a throwback to those travel days. It’s hearty enough to be a meal and can be changed up enough to stay interesting. One night you throw roasted vegetables on top and the next some lentils. You can really add anything, but I would recommend staying away from delicate greens or mix-ins as they might get lost among the hearty vegetables and greens.

Winter Salad with Burnt Citrus Vinaigrette
Winter Salad with Burnt Citrus Vinaigrette

Photo credit: Brit Worgan.

Know this: This salad is about balance. The greens are bitter but are balanced out by the sweet, tangy vinaigrette and pomegranate seeds, the savory vegetables, and the salty cheese.
Winter Salad with Burnt Citrus Vinaigrette
By Evan Kalman
Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (for the roasted vegetables)
  • 1 1/2 – 2 cups root vegetables – mix of Brussels sprouts, carrots, beets, squash, etc.
  • 2 tablespoons fresh-squeed grapefruit juice – from 1 grapefruit
  • 4 tablespoons charred lemon juice – from about 2 lemons
  • 1 tablespoon honey (plus 1 or 2 teaspoons more if you like it on the sweeter side)
  • 1/4 cup (2 oz) of canola oil blended with 2 tablespoons (1 oz) extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 bunch Lacinato kale – ribs removed, very thinly sliced
  • 1 head radicchio – quartered and sliced
  • 1 Belgian endive – halved and sliced
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
  • Feta cheese

Steps

Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees.

First, prepare the roasted vegetables. Chop your vegetables into medium pieces, about 1/2″ to 3/4″, and place on a baking sheet. Drizzle with a generous coating of olive oil, about 3 tablespoons, and then season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat and then evenly spread the vegetables to give them room. Roast for 20-25 minutes, toss, and roast for 25 minutes longer or until browned and tender. Let cool.

While the vegetables are roasting, make the vinaigrette. Heat 1 tablespoon of canola oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, halve the lemons and place cut-side down in the skillet. DO NOT MOVE. Let it sear until the edges begin to brown, about 2 minutes. In a mason jar, combine grapefruit juice, lemon juice, blended oil, honey, and a generous pinch of salt and pepper and shake to blend. Taste the vinaigrette. It should be tangy and sweet. If not, adjust with more lemon juice or honey. Set aside.

In a large bowl, toss the kale, radicchio, endive, and roasted vegetables with about 1/2 cup of vinaigrette (or more to taste). Add the pomegranate seeds on top and a generous handful of feta cheese. Divide among plates and serve with more cheese and a few more pomegranate seeds.

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