I believe in salads. I really do. I actually kind of have to and I think we all should. I know that some people hate on them, but I truly think that people who “don’t like salads” haven’t had the right salad yet. If you’re going to embrace eating vegetables, you need to sex up your salads a bit. What I love about this particular salad is that it feels very hearty and seasonally appropriate and it’s filling to boot. The warm vegetables make the dressing pop and the soft sweet potatoes are complimented by the crunchy, salty parmesan laced throughout. It’s a winner.
WARM WINTER SALAD with PARMESAN CRISPS
and RED PEPPER JELLY VINAIGRETTE
1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced
1 small to medium onion, peeled and sliced
Mixed greens and baby spinach
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
2 parts olive oil
1 part Balsamic vinegar
¼ tsp. Dijon or whole grain mustard
1 tbs. red pepper jelly
Salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss diced sweet potatoes with a drizzle of oil and salt and pepper on a baking sheet. Set to roast in the oven for one hour, turning once at the halfway mark. About 40 minutes in, slice your onion and heat a skillet over medium heat with a tablespoon of olive oil. Sauté onions for a few minutes and then lower the heat, cooking onions slowly until caramelized for the remainder of cook time on the potatoes.
The veggies can cook largely unattended, just be sure to give the onions a stir every few minutes. Meanwhile, make the dressing and the crisps. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat pan liner. Grate parmesan into little piles directly on the pan and set aside. The crisps cook in the oven in just under five minutes. So, pop the cookie sheet in the oven at any point in time while the veggies are finishing. Check them; when the cheese is melted and they are golden colored and browned on the edges they’re done. Let cool for a minute or so and then simply lift the crisps right off the pan. These would also be delicious in Caesar salad or as a tiny, edible base for an appetizer.
To make the dressing combine the vinegar, red pepper jelly, mustard, a pinch of salt and some fresh ground pepper in a bowl. Whisking continuously, drizzle a thin stream of olive oil into the mixture until emulsified. Alternately, combine all of the dressing ingredients in a small jar, clamp the lid on and shake like the dickens then dump the finished dressing into the bottom of your salad bowl. Place the warm roasted potatoes and caramelized onions right into the dressing, top with greens and toss together thoroughly to coat. Plate the salad and top with two parmesan crisps. This makes two entrée sized or four starter sized salads.