14 October 2012

Moved and Easy Arugula Salad

I know I've been a bit absent. But I am back and I've been contemplating how I was going to make an appearance. You see, major changes have taken place in the sense that my sense of place has shifted. We made a long-awaited move to a small one bedroom apartment that, after two weeks inhabited, has budged somewhat into being delightfully functional, despite (or because of?) the fact that we're still using Ed's family's vintage drafting table as our everything table and my family's 1980s oak chairs as our everything chairs. We have our eyes on a settee and some kind of reclaimed wood "real" table but we'll always remember this table as our first. I've taken some shots of the place so far, its biology and blankness feel both malleable and yet firm in it's boundaries, in that, there both is, and is not, a ton to do. I'm rather liking the blank bedroom walls save a hung drawing, and white brick is, well, white brick. There's still a lot of work to do...

And now, this salad. A few notes about it and then you should make it before it gets cold out. It's a peppery blend of arugula and green pepper with a creamy dose of winter squash and avocado, punctuated by salty, grainy little homemade croutons and biting feta. The greens are tossed with balsamic vinagrette and atop the whole thing goes a nice douse of a simple yogurt sauce that is quite like an aioli. It's best and quickest if you already have a roasted vegetable on hand, namely squash. I've been buying up the squashes at the farmer's markets around here every time I go. We go through about 4 a week. Cold, they make excellent salad toss-ins. Avocado adds substance, feta a creamy bite to the arugula and some green peppers enhance the already peppery-ness of the green base itself. But my favorite parts are the croutons and yogurt aioli, also two things that really come in handy to have on hand for use whenever need or inspiration strikes. xo MN

Easy Arugula Salad Recipe
1 large bunch arugula
1/2 an avocado
1/2 a green pepper, sliced into strips
1/2 c feta, crumbled
1/2 c cooked cubed winter squash (I used acorn)
1/2 c homemade croutons *
2- 4 T yogurt dressing *
1-2 T simple balsamic dressing *

If you have pre-cooked winter squash on hand and croutons, you're halfway there, but Otherwise, roast some cut squash on a roasting pan in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes in a little dose of olive oil, and let it cool. Toss stale or about to be stale, torn/chopped whole grain bread, with a dash of salt and a glug of olive oil and let cook on a baking sheet until crisp, about 10 minutes. Keep checking. Set aside.

*Make the dressings. In a small bowl combine a few spoonfuls Greek yogurt, a mashed, minced garlic clove, a generous pinch of salt, 1/2 a squeezed lemon, a small pinch cayenne, a teaspoon honey and a few teaspoons olive oil. Stir well, almost achieving an aioli-ish consistency. Taste for salt and add more if needed.

In another small bowl, combine a teaspoon honey, a tablespoon balsamic vinegar and a tablespoon or two of olive oil, add salt, and set aside.

To assemble salad, mix together the arugula, pepper strips, cubed squash and 1/2 of the feta with balsamic dressing. Top with the avocado and croutons, and sprinkle with the reserved feta. Top with the yogurt dressing and serve.

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