The new year and a new decade are upon us. For most of us, the new year is a time of reflection and nostalgia, as well as an opportunity to reset, refocus and motivate.

While the holiday season is filled with friends, family, warmth and joy, it can also be stressful and exhausting. It’s the season of overindulgence and excess — too much spending, eating, drinking and celebrating.

It is not uncommon to put our exercise, self-care and healthy eating routines on the back burner. The antidote to all this is the annual New Year’s resolution. Most resolutions revolve around living a healthier, more active lifestyle. However, if resolutions are unrealistic, uncomfortable or unattainable, they are commonly abandoned before they even take shape.

The basis of my New Year’s resolution solution salads are all about celebrating local ingredients that are crave-worthy and healthful. Though we are faced with limited local crop and seafood selections at this time of year, these recipes creatively use those that are available, including kale, spinach and lobster.

May one or all of these salads and accompanying homemade dressings become part of your meal planning, both to support your goals of achieving or maintaining a healthy, active lifestyle and to invest in our local farming and fishing community during the long and lean winter season.

 

LOBSTER WEDGE SALAD WITH BUTTERMILK HERB DRESSING

David’s Fish Market in Salisbury has tender, sweet and delectable lobster — caught locally by its own fishermen — throughout the cold winter months, and it is very inexpensive. This dish is a great way to increase your consumption of greens while treating yourself to something special.

Servings: 2

For the salad:

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1-pound live local lobster

4-6 slices bacon

1/2 head iceberg lettuce, outer leaves discarded, cored and cut into 6-8 wedges

8-10 cherry tomatoes, cut into quarters

1/2 cup celery, thinly sliced

3 scallions, thinly sliced

1 tablespoon fresh chives, thinly sliced

1 tablespoon fresh tarragon leaves, finely chopped

1 tablespoon fresh Italian parsley, finely chopped

For the dressing:

1/3 cup buttermilk

1/3 cup sour cream or plain Greek yogurt

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 large garlic clove, minced

2-3 dashes hot sauce (optional)

3 tablespoons fresh chives, thinly sliced

1 tablespoon fresh tarragon leaves, finely chopped

1 tablespoon fresh Italian parsley, finely chopped

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Fill a large stockpot with 2 inches cold water, add 2 teaspoons salt, place a steamer basket in the bottom and bring to a boil over high heat. Once the water comes to a roiling boil, place the lobster in the steamer basket, cover pot, reduce heat to medium-high and steam for 10 minutes.

Spread ice all over a large sheet pan, and immediately transfer the lobster (it will be bright orange/red) to the ice to cool, flipping after 10 minutes. Once the lobster has cooled, twist the claws and tail back and forth until they break off from the lobster body and place them on a large wooden cutting board.

Using a rolling pin or the back of a chef’s knife, smash and crack each claw shell, repetitively and somewhat gently so the claw meat stays intact. Remove claw meat, then use sharp kitchen shears on the underside of the tail to cut the shell away from top to bottom. Pull back the sides of the shell, and remove the tail meat. Refrigerate.

Cube the bacon, and cook in a large skillet over medium-high until crisp, 5-6 minutes. Drain on paper towels, and set aside.

Place the iceberg wedges on a serving platter. Scatter the tomatoes, celery, scallions and chives over the top. Refrigerate.

Place all dressing ingredients in a small bowl, and whisk. Drizzle salad with half the dressing. Top with crumbled bacon, chilled lobster and chopped herbs. Serve with remaining dressing on the side.

 

WINTER SALAD WITH SKILLET-ROASTED POTATOES AND BRUSSELS SPROUTS, BACON, AND DIJON VINAIGRETTE

The base of this particular salad is spinach, which is locally grown and readily available from Tendercrop Farm, even in the heart of winter. The intensely flavorful dressing made with Dijon, shallots and bacon drippings would make shoe leather taste good. I have been making versions of this for decades, sometimes substituting kale or red leaf lettuce for the spinach and oven-roasted cauliflower for the sprouts. Although this dish is not vegan or vegetarian, it is ideal for those of us trying to incorporate more leafy greens and “veg-centric” creations into our winter repertoire.

Servings: 4-6

For the salad:

1 pound fresh local spinach

6 slices bacon

1 pound fingerling potatoes

1 pound Brussels sprouts

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves

1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, minced

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/2 cup unsalted chicken stock

2 ounces shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

For the vinaigrette:

3 tablespoons Dijon mustard

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 small shallot, minced

1 tablespoon honey

2 teaspoon bacon drippings

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

Pinch kosher salt and ground black pepper

Destem, rinse and dry the spinach. Pat dry, and tear into bite-sized pieces; refrigerate.

Cube the bacon, and cook in a large skillet until crisp. Drain on a paper towel, reserving 2 teaspoons of the pan drippings.

Rinse and pat dry the potatoes and Brussels sprouts separately. Slice fingerlings in half lengthwise. Destem and halve sprouts.

Heat 1 tablespoon each of olive oil and butter in a very large (14-inch) skillet over medium-high until butter is melted and the mixture is beginning to bubble and smoke, approximately 2 minutes. Add the thyme, rosemary, salt, pepper and potatoes (cut side down), browning for 5 minutes uncovered.

Pour in 1/4 cup chicken stock, toss potatoes and cover tightly. Reduce heat to medium-low, and cook for 10 minutes longer. Using a spatula or wooden spoon, push the fingerlings to the perimeter of the skillet. Add the remaining tablespoon each of olive oil and butter, then dump the sprouts into the center of the skillet, cut side down, browning for 5 minutes.

Pour in remaining 1/4 cup chicken stock, stirring potatoes and sprouts together. Cover tightly, increase heat to medium and cook for an additional 10 minutes, tossing occasionally. Turn off heat, and keep skillet covered.

Meanwhile, add all dressing ingredients to a small, lidded jar. Cover tightly, and shake vigorously for 30 seconds. Pour half the dressing all over the potatoes and sprouts, and stir gently. Cover.

To serve, place the spinach on a large serving platter. Scatter with an even layer of potatoes and sprouts. Sprinkle on crumbled bacon, and top with the cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste, if desired. Serve with remaining dressing on the side.

 

ROASTED BROCCOLI AND KALE SALAD WITH EGG-FREE CAESAR DRESSING AND SWEET POTATO CROUTONS

Hearty kale is grown locally throughout the winter in Tendercrop Farm’s greenhouses, and it is the perfect basis for those of us trying to stick to healthier-eating resolutions or working on shedding a little unwanted weight gain from the holidays. The kale is enhanced by warm roasted broccoli and creamy dressing. And we loved the sweet potato “croutons” right out of the oven — so much that it was amazing that any of them made their way into the salad!

Servings: 4-6

For the salad:

2 heads broccoli, cut into florets

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 cups sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes

2 bunches kale

1/2 cup shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

For the dressing:

3 tablespoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon lemon zest

2 large garlic cloves, minced

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

10 anchovy fillets (preferably white anchovies)

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

3 ounces grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Heat the oven to 425 degrees.

Place the broccoli florets on a parchment-lined 9-inch-by-13-inch baking sheet, season with half of the salt and pepper, and drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Toss to coat evenly, and spread out in a single layer. Place the sweet potatoes on a second parchment-lined baking sheet, season with remaining salt and pepper, and drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Toss to coat, and spread evenly.

Roast side by side for 15 minutes, flip and roast for 5 minutes longer until edges are crispy and golden.

Meanwhile, place the first 8 dressing ingredients in a mini food processor, and blend until smooth, about 1 minute. Add the olive oil and grated cheese, and blend for 1 minute longer until creamy.

Rinse, pat dry and destem the kale. Tear into bite-sized pieces, place on a large serving platter, top with 1/3 cup dressing and toss to coat.

Top with the broccoli, pour on 1/4 cup dressing and toss. Scatter the sweet potatoes all over the top, and serve remaining dressing on the side.

 

KALE SALAD WITH TOASTED GOAT CHEESE, SUN-DRIED TOMATOES AND HONEY BALSAMIC VINAIGRETTE

This vegetarian entrée salad is hearty and filling. The toasted goat cheese rounds with warm, creamy centers make this simple, rustic dish memorable. Kale holds up very well to the sweet and tangy dressing, and leftovers can be refrigerated and enjoyed for days, unlike traditional salad lettuce of any variety.

Servings: 3-4

For the salad:

3-4 tablespoons pine nuts

6 cups kale, rinsed, patted dry, destemmed and torn into bite-sized pieces

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

6-ounce goat cheese log, plain or garlic and herb

1/2 cup unbleached or whole-wheat all-purpose flour

1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs

1 egg

1/4-1/3 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and julienne-sliced

For the vinaigrette:

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

3 tablespoons honey

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

1 large garlic clove, minced

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Toast the pine nuts in a toaster oven on low heat for 2 minutes; set aside to cool.

Place the kale in a large bowl, and season with salt and pepper. Massage gently for 1-2 minutes with your hands.

Place all vinaigrette ingredients in a small jar with a lid, and shake vigorously for 1-2 minutes. Pour 1/4 cup dressing over kale, and toss to coat evenly, reserve the remaining dressing. Place kale on a large serving platter or in a bowl. Refrigerate.

Meanwhile, place the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Cut the goat cheese log into 9-12 even slices. Place the flour and panko into individual shallow bowls, and whisk the egg with 1 teaspoon cold water in a small bowl.

Dip the goat cheese slices into flour, then egg (shaking off excess), then panko, pressing firmly on both sides. Place the cheese rounds in the skillet, and cook for approximately 2 minutes per side or until golden brown. Do not overcook, or they will begin to fall apart. Transfer to paper towels to drain for a moment.

Top the kale with the tomatoes, pine nuts and cheese rounds. Drizzle a bit more dressing over the salad, and serve at once with remaining dressing on the side.  

Allison Lehane lives in Newbury, where she is a home cook who is passionate about locally sourced ingredients. Her recipes have been inspired by her world travels through her former career as an international home fashion buyer for TJX Corp. Contact her at highroad198@icloud.com.

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