In the blink of an eye, this crazy 2021 has almost come to an end. That means that we will sit at the New Year’s Eve table to eat the last feast of the year, hopefully in good company, to chat about what we experienced this year and what is to come. But at El Comidista what really matters to us are not the goals that you will set for next year – and that hopefully you will achieve – but what will be on the table in question.
You have probably given a lot of thought about what meat, fish and / or seafood to buy and how to cook it, but how much attention have you paid to salads, those that avoid collapse due to animal fat, those that cleanse your palate between bites and bring freshness to the table? How much have you thought about attractive options for your guests, if you have them, vegan or vegetarian? How much have you thought about how well-combined and cooked vegetables can help you reduce your meat consumption on New Year’s Eve and always? If the answer to these questions is “little” or “nothing” this article is our Christmas gift for you. Here are eight salads to make on New Years Eve for you to check and show that salads don’t have to be boring.
As always – and I take the opportunity to remember it as something to keep in mind in the kitchen in general – you can exchange, remove or add ingredients according to your opinion, your ability and your tastes. Salads are a perfect world to play with with total freedom when combining ingredients and techniques. Take these recipes as a base and explode. And if you like them, don’t leave them out in the New Year’s Eve recipe book, repeat them throughout the year to come and adapt them to the ingredients that are in season.
Note: the quantities of these salads are intended as a side for 4-5 people.
Spinach, grapefruit, hazelnuts and boiled egg
That golden, tender and crispy roasted turkey that has cost you so many hours of work deserves to have a salad like this next to it. You can prepare it without boiled egg if you are looking for a lighter version and it will be just as good. Peel and remove the segments to live of two medium pink grapefruits or one large, discard the outer skin and reserve the segments and the remaining skins. Cook three eggs in boiling water for ten minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare the vinaigrette by mixing well a teaspoon of tahini, four tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, a tablespoon of vinegar, the juice that you can squeeze by hand from the remaining grapefruit skins and salt to taste. In a bowl, mix about 150 g of baby spinach, the grapefruit segments, a handful of lightly chopped toasted hazelnuts, half a red onion cut into julienne strips or a very fine feather – you can previously pickle it as explained here -, the peeled boiled eggs and cut into quarters and the vinaigrette. Mix gently and voila!
Endives, pear, walnuts and blue cheese
Endives are in season and are good for both hot and cold dishes. Their bitter character makes them good companions for sweet fruits such as pear and dairy products such as blue cheese. To prepare this simple salad, start with the dressing: in a blender glass put 50 g of the blue cheese that you like the most –roquefort, gorgonzola, cabrales, danablu, etc.–, a tablespoon of olive oil, two tablespoons of cream or milk and a pinch of salt, and mix well with the mixer. In a bowl, mix the leaves of 3 julienned endives, a diced pear and lightly chopped toasted walnuts. Add the dressing and mix. To add a little color, you can finish it with some grains of pomegranate.
Fennel, orange and sunflower seeds
Italians know what they do when it comes to eating and that is why I bring up a typical combination of their gastronomy that never fails: fennel and orange. To prepare this salad, cut the white part of a large fennel or two small ones into thin slices and reserve the green leaves. Peel two oranges live and cut their segments or peel them trying to eliminate the white part and cut them into slices. Make a simple vinaigrette by mixing well five tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, two tablespoons of apple or wine vinegar, salt and pepper to taste.
In a bowl mix the fennel with the orange and the vinaigrette. Arrange everything on a tray and finish with toasted or fried sunflower seeds on top. To bring this salad up a notch, brown half the cut orange and fennel on both sides in a frying pan with 15g of butter. Mix them with the remaining raw orange and fennel and follow the same procedure. This salad is a very good accompaniment to fish.
Caesar style salad
Ana Vega ‘Biscayenne’ already said it back in 2017, the original Caesar salad is neither Yankee nor Italian and does not include chicken or anchovies. I like this salad for being fresh and somewhat filling at the same time and for combining crunchy and creamy textures to perfection. This one that follows is not a canonical Caesar but it does its job well. It is prepared like this: turn the oven to 150 ºC, cut three or four slices of two or three cm thick bread – preferably a loaf or some type of honeycomb bread – and rub them with a peeled garlic clove. Break just the crumb into regular pieces and put them in a bowl.
Add four tablespoons of olive oil – flavored oils are also very good here -, salt and pepper and mix so that they are well impregnated. Place them on a tray and bake until golden brown, turning occasionally. Meanwhile, prepare the dressing by mixing two generous tablespoons of mayonnaise, two chopped anchovies, a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, two teaspoons of Worcestershire sauce, a tablespoon of lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste. In a bowl, mix the leaves of four fresh lettuce buds –you can revive the leaves beforehand in a bowl with very cold water–, the dressing and the croutons. Serve in a salad bowl or tray and finish with parmesan flakes and an extra bit of pepper.
Beetroot and its leaves, arugula, goat cheese and garlic chips
In his book Seven fires: my Argentine cuisine Francis Mallmann teaches how to prepare this salad. As he points out, “the beauty of beets is not revealed if it is boiled until it loses its flavor” and therefore his recipe is far from that. To prepare it (for eight people) you have to cut the stems of eight beets and reserve the healthiest and most tender leaves. The beets are placed in a pot with ½ cup of red wine vinegar, two tablespoons of olive oil, five grains of black pepper, two bay leaves and a tablespoon of salt, covered with cold water and brought to a boil over strong fire. When it comes to a boil, the heat is lowered and they are cooked for 25 to 35 minutes or until they can be easily pierced with a knife. They are drained and gently flattened with the palm of the hand between two pieces of kitchen paper. They are smeared with olive oil and seasoned on both sides. Mallmann indicates that they should be toasted in a cast iron pan or pan over high heat but not all of us have these gadgets in our kitchen. You can substitute them for a regular non-stick skillet or choose to toast them in the hot oven.
While the beets are roasting on both sides, prepare the garlic chips. To do this, 10 cloves of garlic are thinly sliced, with a mandolin or knife, and fried in a small pan with a cm of olive oil depth until they are just golden brown. They are removed with a slotted spoon or spider and left to drain on kitchen paper. To prepare the salad vinaigrette, mix two tablespoons of red wine vinegar, six tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper to form an emulsion. The beet greens are mixed with three handfuls of arugula in a bowl and a mound is served on each plate. Add a beet for each, crumbled goat cheese, the vinaigrette and garlic chips.
Red cabbage, persimmon, cottage cheese, and black olives
One of the things that makes salads attractive is their color scheme. This cabbage, persimon persimmon, cottage cheese and black olives is a sample of that. It is perfect to accompany a meat such as roast beef or to serve as a starter. If you can’t find cottage cheese, you can swap it for cottage cheese, quark, burrata, mató, and even some not-so-potent blue cheese.
How is this salad made? Prepare the vinaigrette by mixing four tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, a teaspoon of old-fashioned mustard –or Dijon if you want it more powerful–, a tablespoon of Modena vinegar and salt to taste. Cut a quarter of a red cabbage into very fine julienne strips and a persimon or saroni persimmon into thin slices. Place both ingredients in a bowl and mix them with the vinaigrette and a few quality black olives. Serve the mixture in a salad bowl and finish with teaspoons of the cottage cheese on top and freshly ground black pepper.
Green leaves with yogurt dressing and seeds
A green leafy salad can be the best salad if the leaves in question are very fresh. To guarantee that freshness, it is key that you get along with your fruit bowl or that you have the fortune of having a vegetable garden. This is the least recipe on this list but here it goes: wash and dry the leaves of different lettuces well, cut them into irregular pieces with your hands and place them in a bowl. In addition, prepare the dressing by mixing two tablespoons of unsweetened natural yogurt, a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, a tablespoon of lemon juice and salt to taste. Add the dressing to the lettuce and mix well. Finish with a mix of seeds – flax, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, poppy seeds, etc. – lightly toasted.
Potato, smoked sardine, tartar sauce and herbs
This salad is perhaps not the best as an accompaniment due to its forcefulness, however it is a good starter. To make it beautiful and a bit more refined, you can use small caliber potatoes. Here is the step by step: wash the potatoes well and cook them whole in salted water until they can be easily pierced with a knife. While preparing a tartar sauce as Mònica Escudero explains in this article.
Drain the potatoes well and let them cool slightly if you want the salad to be warm, or completely if you want to serve it cold. Flatten them slightly, without breaking them completely, and place them in a bowl. Add the tartar sauce and mix. Pour the potatoes into a tray or salad bowl and optionally place some smoked sardine loins on top. You can also use smoked salmon or trout instead. Finish with a little dill on top and freshly ground black pepper.