Winter Reprieve Salad with Roasted Garlic & Tahini Dressing

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We had a 24-hour reprieve from this hellacious winter last weekend. It was a glorious 50 degrees. Never in my wildest dreams would I imagine that one day I would say 50 degrees is glorious. Everything is relative. That brisk preview of spring made for a lovely Sunday run in the park, a perfect brunch with a dear friend, and inspired this salad. I’ve been too cheap financially responsible to join the gym this year, so any time the temperature is above 40 and the sun is shining, I feel the urge to get out and run. The sun is a cure-all... this winter is teaching me just how much I need sunshine in my life.

The greens I used are still pretty hearty and winter-esque, but the addition of mint, and the light creamy dressing added a freshness that felt like spring. Don’t get intimidated by the recipe. It looks like a lot of steps, but they can all be done quickly, and there is a fair amount of down time. Down time in which you can relax, drink some wine and read a book near a fireplace, or something along those lines.

Cook off your chickpeas ahead of time, or used canned. This is the most time consuming part of the recipe, but it requires almost no active time. Soak your chickpeas overnight, drain the soaking liquid, cover with fresh water and simmer until tender. For the best results, the onions should also be pickled at least 4 hours before using. If you are in a pinch, forget the pickling and add currants to the salad. Currants will provide the same sweet addition that the onions do without having to fuss with the pickling. But, if you’ve never pickled onions you should give it a go - they are delicious.

When you're ready to make the dressing, start with roasting the garlic. While it is roasting, season your chickpeas and pop them in the oven. Clean and prep your greens while the garlic and chickpeas are in the oven, and pull out all of the ingredients that you will need for the dressing. When the garlic is done, allow it to cool for a few minutes, blend the dressing and you’re ready to dress and serve.

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redonion
creamy garlic dressing
The Salad
  • 1 bulb fennel
  • 1 head bibb lettuce
  • 1 small head radicchio
  • 1 bunch mint
  • ½ c pickled red onions (recipe below)
  • smoky roasted chickpeas (recipe below)
  • dressing to coat (recipe below)

Thinly slice the fennel. A Japanese mandoline works wonders here. Wash, dry and chop the bibb and radicchio. Remove the mint from the stem and give it a rough chop. Mix all ingredients together, toss with the dressing and top with chickpeas and more fresh pepper.

Creamy Roasted Garlic & Tahini Dressing
  • 1 head garlic
  • 2 T tahini
  • 2 T greek yogurt
  • ¼ c olive oil
  • ¼ c water (or as needed)
  • ½ t sugar
  • ½ t salt
  • lots of fresh cracked pepper
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut the whole head of garlic in half, cutting along the equator. Place in tin foil, drizzle with olive oil and wrap tightly. Place in oven and roast for 45 minutes. When you remove it from the oven, the cloves should be golden and very soft. Allow to cool slightly and squeeze the garlic cloves out of the peel.

Add the roasted garlic cloves, tahini, lemon and yogurt to a food processor. Pulse until combined and creamy. While the machine is running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil. You should have a very thick dressing at this point. Thin slightly with up to ¼ cup of water. Season with salt, sugar and pepper to taste.

Note: You will get a thicker, creamier dressing if you use a food processor but you can also whisk all of the ingredients together by hand.

Smoky Chickpea Croutons:
  • 2 cups cooked and drained chickpeas (or one can)
  • 1 T coconut oil
  • 1 t ground cumin
  • 1 t smoked paprika
  • a generous sprinkling of sea salt

Gently remove excess water from cooked chickpeas. Toss with oil, spices and salt and spread out on a baking sheet. Bake at 400 F for 20-30 minutes, until golden and lightly crisp. They will continue to crisp once you remove them from the oven, so don’t leave them in the oven until fully crisp.

Quick Pickled Onions
  • 1 red onion, slivered
  • 1 c vinegar (white, apple cider, champagne)
  • 1 c water
  • 1 c raw sugar

Heat vinegar, water and sugar in a small pot until the sugar has completely dissolved. Pour over onions and set aside.