Weeknight Winter Salad

I finally found it. 

Weeknight Winter Salad {Pedantic Foodie}

This is my salad. 

For nearly 22 years, I have thrown greens into a bowl, mixed up a seemingly-promising dressing, and tried to fall in love…but to no avail. 

Weeknight Winter Salad {Pedantic Foodie}

Until now, aside from my obsession with this salad several years go, I never had my salad - a salad that I just could not get enough of, and one that I would actually choose over pasta (okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but this is as close as greens can get).

Weeknight Winter Salad {Pedantic Foodie}

On a cold December evening, instead of turning to my new favorite pizza recipe, I threw this salad together and - hurrah!  

Weeknight Winter Salad {Pedantic Foodie}

I think it’s the combination of the warm chicken atop the crisp greens that gets me. 

Weeknight Winter Salad {Pedantic Foodie}

I’ve never been a fan of cold meals.  Which also explains my ambivalence to subs and my inability to jump on the smoothie bowl wagon.  

When I sit down to a meal, I want something warm and comforting, and this salad is both. 

It’s also incredibly versatile. 

I change out the fruit and nuts depending on what I have on hand, but I always keep the sweet and tangy dressing my constant. 

Weeknight Winter Salad {Pedantic Foodie}

Apples are probably my favorite salad accessory.  I pick up a few every week reserved especially for sprinkling over greens.

Weeknight Winter Salad {Pedantic Foodie}

Have you discovered Envy apples yet?  They are the new and improved Honey Crisp in our home and I’m kind of obsessed with their cheery golden hue. 

Weeknight Winter Salad {Pedantic Foodie}

While I switch out the components for variety, I try to stick to a pattern.

Two fruits.  My current favorites being pomegranate arils and chopped apples.

Chopped nuts.  While we like walnuts, I prefer them saved for brownies so pecans are my go-to here.

Finely grated cheese.  Parmesan is a must, and please be generous.  I use my microplane to grate the cheese super fine. 

Protein.  While a leftover N.Y. strip is a delicious addition, chicken breasts, simply cooked and sliced thinly, are our favorite. 

Weeknight Winter Salad {Pedantic Foodie}

A sweet and tangy honey lemon dressing is the blending factor for the separate components. 

Weeknight Winter Salad {Pedantic Foodie}

We are having this salad for dinner at least once a week right now.  My infatuation with it has lasted over a month, which is pretty good considering that I get bored with most things after about thirty-six hours. 

Weeknight Winter Salad {Pedantic Foodie}

This, is my salad, let it be yours too.  Who needs a juice cleanse when you can join this bandwagon and still have cheese?  

Weeknight Winter Salad {Pedantic Foodie}

Best of both worlds, I'd say. 

Weeknight Winter Salad {Pedantic Foodie}

Sincerely, 

Pedantic Foodie


Weeknight Winter Salad

serves 2

for the dressing

- 3 tablespoons honey 

- 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

- 1/2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar 

- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt 

- freshly ground black pepper 

- 2 tablespoons finely grated parmesan

- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (I like a light, fruity oil for this dressing)

In a small bowl or jar, use a fork to whisk the lemon juice into the honey.  Stir in balsamic, salt, pepper, and parmesan.  

Slowly whisk in olive oil, until the dressing is homogenous. 

for the chicken

- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

- 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil

- sea salt & black pepper

Pat chicken breasts dry with a paper towel and season liberally with salt and pepper. 

Heat olive oil in a medium, nonstick frying pan over medium heat.

When the oil begins to shimmer, add chicken.  Cook for 4-5 minutes on each side, until the breasts are crisp and the internal temperature reads 160*-165 degrees.

Transfer the chicken breasts to a cutting board and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes before slicing thinly. 

*I try to take my chicken off at 160 degrees because carry-over heat takes care of the extra five degrees.  However, you should always stick to your comfort zone and buy your meat from a reliable supplier.   

add-ins & assembly

- 4 cups spring greens 

- 1/2 apple, cut into cubes (go for crisp apples like honey crisp, envy, or pink lady)

- 1/4 cup pomegranate arils 

- 1/3 cup pecans 

- 1/2 cup finely grated parmesan 

Divide prepared dressing between two bowls.  Place two cups of greens in each bowl and top with chopped apples, pomegranate, pecans, and warm, sliced chicken.  Toss to combine and sprinkle with parmesan.  Enjoy!  


Autumn Meatballs with Linguine and Delicata Squash

I'm currently just shy of being three thousand miles away from my home.  Three thousand miles away from my yellow chair.  Three thousand miles away from the little corner where I attempt to make my sleepy face look a little more human each morning.  Three thousand miles from my Trader Joe's.  (Oh yes, of course there are Trader Joe's where I am, but not my Trader Joe's.)  Three thousand miles removed from my routine.  

Autumn Meatballs with Linguine and Delicata Squash {Pedantic Foodie}

Since childhood I have been a lover of routine.  Sameness.  Ah, just hearing that word gives me goosebumps - the happy kind. 

Change?  No. No. Definitely no.  Please no.  I can't.  No. No.  PANICKING!!  

Yeah... As you can see, my sentiments for that word are not exactly fond...

Autumn Meatballs with Linguine and Delicata Squash {Pedantic Foodie}

Temporary change however, is most welcome, as long as I can plan for it several weeks in advance and absolutely know that my beloved routine will await me when I decide that I have had my fill of newness.  

Blah.  I sound so boring.  I know I have some sympathizers out there, right?  

Boring or not, I am comforted by routine and even when I am thousands of miles from my regular day to day life, I try to find little pieces of familiarity to cling to when the homesickness sets in. 

Autumn Meatballs with Linguine and Delicata Squash {Pedantic Foodie}

Pasta.  Pasta can make any place feel familiar and homey.  

Oh please, do not even pretend to be surprised.  You knew I was going to make this about carbs. I will always make it about carbs.  That is why you're here, right?

Autumn Meatballs with Linguine and Delicata Squash {Pedantic Foodie}

For this recipe, I changed up my meatball parts list a bit to give them more of an Autumnal vibe.  A heavy dose of sage and thyme did the trick and mixed perfectly with the sweet delicata squash.

Autumn Meatballs with Linguine and Delicata Squash {Pedantic Foodie}

I like delicata squash because it is fantastic when simply roasted with a bit of olive oil, salt, and pepper.  It's sweet and flavorful on its own and requires little to no adornment.

Autumn Meatballs with Linguine and Delicata Squash {Pedantic Foodie}

Depending on your squash, you may want to peel it before roasting.  Sometimes the skin can become leathery if it is too thick.  I leave the choice to the discretion of the chef. 

Autumn Meatballs with Linguine and Delicata Squash {Pedantic Foodie}

I wanted to add a little extra texture to my pasta so I toasted up some panko breadcrumbs in a bit of sage butter.  I love the crunch that it adds. 

Just before serving, I added a bit of fresh baby spinach to the pasta to let it wilt slightly.  

Autumn Meatballs with Linguine and Delicata Squash {Pedantic Foodie}

This dish is a bit involved, but the steps are simple, and I find it to be almost as pleasant to prepare as it is to eat.  

No matter where you are, this dish is sure to make you feel at home.

Autumn Meatballs with Linguine and Delicata Squash {Pedantic Foodie}

Three thousand miles ain't no thing when you have your favorite sweater and a big bowl of pasta to take you to your happy place. 

Sincerely, 

  Pedantic Foodie.


Autumn Meatballs with Linguine and Delicata Squash

 

for the meatballs

  • 1 lb 80/20 ground beef
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs 
  • 1 large egg 
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 cup finely grated pecorino romano 
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated 
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg 
  • 1 teaspoon sage chiffonade 
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons thyme, leaves stripped from stems

In a large bowl combine all ingredients.  Use your hands or a potato masher to mix, until the ingredients are well combined.

Shape the meat into 1-ounce balls and place on a lined baking sheet.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.  While the meatballs are chilling, prepare the squash.  

for the squash

  • 1 small delicata squash
  • olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt 
  • freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. 

Slice the squash into 1/2-inch rings and then slice each ring in half, forming half circles.  Drizzle the squash with olive oil and season liberally with salt and pepper.  

Lay the squash evenly out onto a baking sheet lined with parchment and bake for 30 minutes, or until fork tender.  While the squash is roasting prepare the pasta and bread crumbs. 

breadcrumbs and assembly

  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs 
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter 
  • 1 sage leaf 
  • 1/2 pound of linguine 
  • 4 cups baby spinach
  • 1-2 teaspoons olive oil 
  • grated pecorino romano, for finishing 

Preheat oven to 170 degrees.

In a medium frying pan, melt butter over medium heat.  When the butter has fully melted, add sage leaf and cook for 1 minute - this will allow the flavor of the sage to release into the butter.  Add panko breadcrumbs and toast, stirring frequently for about 3-4 minutes or until golden.  Set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add linguine.  Boil for about 10 minutes, until al dente.

While the pasta is cooking, place a heavy frying pan over medium high heat.  Coat the pan 1-2 teaspoons of olive oil.  When the oil begins to glimmer, add meatballs, several at a time to the pan.  Cook, turning often, for 4-6 minutes.  Be careful not to let the pan get too hot, otherwise the meatballs with burn on the outside before the meat can cook through.  Transfer the meatballs to an oven-safe pan, cover with foil, and place in the oven to keep them warm until all the meatballs are cooked. 

To assemble, drain the pasta and toss with spinach and a bit of olive oil.  Cover the pasta for about 2 minutes, to allow the spinach to wilt slightly.  Toss in meatballs, squash, and breadcrumbs just before serving, then top with a bit of pecorino romano for good measure.  Serve immediately. Enjoy!