Thursday, February 14, 2013

Parsnip, Apple, and Cheddar Salad

This recipe is quite literally a peek into my lunch box. I bring salad to work for lunch a couple days a week (and usually have salad for lunch during the weekend), so I have to come up with a lot of new recipes to keep it interesting. All too often I fall into the dried fruit + cheese + nuts rut, which can get a little dull despite the many variations on that recipe I cycle through. I'm also trying to cut back on cheese (though I love it so) and incorporate more veggies into my salad, both of which this accomplishes beautifully. Parsnips are seldom a vegetable I purchase, but their roasted zesty sweetness is the perfect contrast to the crisp, tart apples, reminding me what a shame it is that I too often neglect this unassuming vegetable. Smoky cheddar cheese gives just the right amount of richness and pumpkin seeds add a lovely crunchy pop to each bite, bringing the dish to a perfect balance. If you're craving seasonal flavors, but not in the mood for a heavy meal, look no further than this salad. Roasted roots, crispy apples, pumpkin seeds, and savory cheese all possess the very soul of colder seasons, but the delicate greens they rest upon remind us that warm and sunny days will too be here again.

Parsnip, Apple, and Cheddar Salad
serves 1 (as a main dish)

2 ounces lettuce, mixed greens, or spinach (about 2 cups)
4 ounces parsnips, peeled and cut into small dice
Extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Half of a small tart apple, cut into bite-size pieces (about 2 ounces)
2 tablespoons/0.5 ounce shredded or cubed smoked or sharp cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons/0.5 ounce roasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds)

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Toss parsnips with olive oil, salt, and pepper and arrange in an even layer on a baking sheet. Roast until parsnips are tender and caramelized, about 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the size of the pieces.

2. Arrange greens on a large plate, and top with parsnips, apple, cheese, and pepitas. Drizzle with dressing of choice and enjoy!

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