Elevate Your Winter Salads by Shopping Locally

1/10/2017

By Massimo Bosco

Shopping locally has been important to me since I was a child. Our Italian family foraged for mushrooms, canned tomatoes from our home garden, and made our own pickles. We also shopped locally, which I still do today. It’s important to me to eat seasonally to reduce the impact our food has on our environment. One way you can do this is by shopping at a local farmers market like Green City Market.

While buying local is something I very much support, shopping in season is even more important because it allows you to focus only on ingredients that are in their prime—and full of flavor. The winter season means one-pot meals, like braised chicken and pot roast, or roasting foods in the oven for hours, like a mix of root vegetables and squashes, which warms my home while the smells of herbs and spices waft through the rooms.

I love the comfort the produce of this season provides, so I’ve incorporated the full flavors of the season in my recipe below. It’s a spin on a traditional Waldorf salad, which centers on nuts and apples. One of my favorite things to do as a chef is update a classic recipe with a contemporary approach. The saltiness from the cheese, sweetness of the apples and pears, and creaminess of the dressing elevates this dish. The serving size also makes it easy to prepare for a family or a group of friends.

These ingredients taste great together for a very good reason—they are all available in the markets now. While an array of vendors at the Green City Market will carry greens (everything from red leaf and butter lettuce to rainbow chard and spinach) and fruits, you may want to stop byEllis Family Farmsfor apple cider vinegar, Chicago Honey Co-Opfor honey,Mint Creek Farm or Kinnikinnick Farmfor eggs, and J2K Capraiofor blue cheese.

This salad is very easy for anyone to make. If you consider yourself advanced in the kitchen, there are endless ways to vary the recipe. Swap out which greens you use, replace the cherries with cranberries, or make your mayonnaise from scratch. With a little knowledge of food, you can get as creative as you like.

Winter Greens with Honey-Apple Cider Vinegar Blue Cheese Dressing, with Pear and Apple Pecan Salad and Sea Salt Crackers 

Serves 12

*Ingredients available at Green City Market 

Winter Greens
  • 16 oz. winter greens*
  • 1 cup julienne carrots*
  • 2 Tbsp. dried cherries
  1. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Set aside while you make the dressing. 
Honey-Apple Cider Blue Cheese Dressing
  • 2 egg yolks*
  • 2 oz. apple cider vinegar*
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • Juice of 2 to 3 lemons
  • 16 oz. grape seed oil
  • 4 oz. olive oil
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup blue cheese, crumbled finely*
  • 2-3 oz honey*
  1. In a bowl, place the egg yolks, vinegar, lemon juice, and Dijon mustard
  2. Slowly emulsify in the oil slowly at first then faster
  3. As necessary, thin with cold water
  4. Mix in the blue cheese
  5. Finish with honey, salt, pepper, and cayenne
  6. Dress the winter greens. Serve with Pear and Apple Pecan Salad and Sea Salt Crackers (recipes below)
Pear and Apple Pecan Salad
  • 1 pear, diced*
  • 2 apples, peeled and diced*
  • 1/4 cup of sour cream
  • 1/4 cup of mayonnaise (homemade or store bought)
  • 2 tablespoons of sugar
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • Lemon juice to taste
  • 1 rib of celery, small diced*
  • 1/4 cup of toasted pecans*
  1. Mix the mayonnaise, sour cream, salt, pepper, sugar, and lemon juice to make a dressing.
  2. Add the pecans and celery and mix well.
  3. Quickly toss the pears and apples into dressing and mix well.
  4. Cover and chill until ready to serve. 
Sea Salt Crackers
  • 17 oz. semolina flour
  • 15 oz all purpose flour*
  • 4 Tbsp sesame seeds (equal parts black and white if possible)
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 2 eggs*
  • 2 oz. olive oil, plus more for brushing
  • 1/4 teaspoon of ground black pepper
  • Pinch each of salt and sugar
  • Sea salt for sprinkling
  1. Mix the first nine ingredients (like a pasta dough)
  2. Knead until smooth. It’s critical not to overwork the dough.
  3. Let chill at least one hour before using.
  4. Roll out with a pasta machine, or thinly as possible between two sheets of parchment paper.
  5. Cut into 2x6-inch rectangles, and place on sheet pan with parchment paper brushed with oil Bake at 375° F until golden brown (approximately 8-10 minutes).
  6. Remove from oven and brush generously with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt

Massimo Bosco, MA, a chef instructor at the School of Culinary Arts at Kendall College, has served in leadership positions at hotels and clubs such as the Stonebridge Country Club, Westin O’Hare, Fairmont Hotel Chicago, Four Seasons Hotel Chicago, and Hotel Nikko Chicago.

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