(Recipe at the bottom)
While getting my hair done earlier this week by the wonderful Monica at Bangz Salon, we had a long discussion about my passion for food. I explained to her that while many people don’t enjoy cooking and would rather have food magically appear on the table–to which Monica said, “That’s me! That’s totally me!”–I, on the other hand, relish the process of designing a made-from-scratch meal. Each day I anticipate the moment of coming home from work, changing into something stain-worthy, pouring a glass of wine, flipping to Food Network and spending the next two hours making an absolute mess of my kitchen.
It’s what keeps me balanced.
Monica revealed to me that her biggest concern when preparing a dish is not knowing what goes with what. When I told her that it’s all about the balance--she then said to me, “Oh! Just like when I’m mixing color?” By associating the method of coloring hair–something Monica is an expert in–with the process of cooking, we were suddenly on the same page.
“If you’re trying to create dirty blonde, you’re going to combine dark and light. If you’re trying to make a vinaigrette–you’re going to balance sweetness with acidity.”
And then I began to crave a salad…
When I’m seeking out a big bowl of leafy greens in the summertime–I’m looking for fresh, bright flavors like berries and citrus. In the winter, I long for ingredients that leave me with a warm fuzzy feeling inside.
Note: you can also get that same sensation from an english muffin that’s past its expiration date.
For this light but satisfying winter salad–I combined the following simple ingredients to create a balance of flavors and textures:
Spicy — Arugula (a peppery green with a slight bitterness) / Sweet — Honeycrisp Apples / Savory/Warm — Acorn Squash (slice into wedges, toss with olive oil, salt, pepper, and maple agave and roast at 400 until tender) / Salty — Caramelized onions (thinly slice sweet onions and slow cook in butter and a touch of white wine until light brown) / Crunchy — Toasted sunflower seeds (toast until golden and fragrant) / Creamy — Goat cheese (a crumbly cheese with a tangy, yet mild flavor)
The combination of savory, sugary, salty, crunchy, and melt-in-your-mouth-y (from the goat cheese and maple roasted acorn squash of course) created a medley of luscious flavors that all came together in one mouth-watering dish. Who knew salads could be this good?
For the homemade vinaigrette, I followed the same guidelines of balancing flavor profiles: sweet (honey), acid (vinegar), citrus (orange), and floral (basil).
Orange-basil and Wildflower Honey Vinaigrette:
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil
Half the juice of a fresh orange
1 tablespoon fresh chopped basil
1 teaspoon wildflower honey (any kind of good honey or agave can be substituted)
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper to taste
“Happiness is not a matter of intensity, but of balance and order and rhythm and harmony.”