This salad is hearty and contains enough protein to call it dinner. Besides being good for you, it is ridiculously pretty. Serves four.
4 cups rainbow chard (tender, less mature leaves) chopped
1 onion, sliced
½ cup roasted red bell pepper, chopped finely (jarred roasted red peppers save so much time)
½ cup halved, toasted and salted cashews
½ cup crumbled feta cheese
It can be used in any salad or as a dip for steamed artichokes or other vegetables. Yields 2 cups, so cover what you don’t use, cover tightly and refrigerate.
¾ cup white balsamic vinegar
½ cup raisins
1½ cups grape seed oil. (I know you’ll want to substitute olive oil, and you can, but dressing will be heavier and lack a little brightness.)
4 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon of salt
Step 1: Carmelize the onions.
If you have never carmelized onions you need to start now! After learning you’ll get compliments like I did, “Mrs. Atkins, you make vegetables taste like candy!” I love to be a hero when it isn’t hard.
If you triple the recipe when you make carmelized onions, they’ll get you out of making dinner another night. Just buy small, individual baguettes and deli roast beef and cheese. You can butter the bread, and toast the sandwiches under the broiler until the roast beef and baguettes are warmed through, with the cheese melting all over the onions.
Put a tablespoon or two of butter in a pan over medium heat. Once the butter has melted, drop onion slices in evenly. Every 5 to 10 minutes, stir the onions and space them evenly out again on the pan, being careful to keep the heat low enough that they become translucent, but don’t burn. After about 40 minutes, they will smell and taste amazing.
Step 2: As onions cook down, make the dressing.
Combine vinegar and raisins a pot and bring it to a gentle simmer for a few minutes, so that raisins plump up. Fish the raisins out and set them in a bowl. Poor the vinegar in a blender, and then add honey and oil slowly in a stream, and blend slowly. Finish blending the dressing with a teaspoon of salt. Since this recipe makes so much extra dressing, it is easier to refrigerate it in the blender or in a recycled dressing bottle you can vigorously shake.
Step 3: Assemble the salad.
Toss desired amount of dressing with rainbow chard, onions and peppers and load into bowls. Top with scattered toasted cashews, feta and cracked fresh pepper. For the best contrast, serve the chilled ingredients topped with warmed onions and warm dressing.
A copy of this recipe appeared in a print edition of State-by-State Gardening July/August 2015. Photo © Hojo/Dreamstime.com.