season's eatings + your gifting wish list
‘Tis The Season!
Winter Fennel + Pomegranate Salad w/Crispy Prosciutto
A momentary reprieve from seasonal indulgence.
This fresh and elegant salad will be a striking addition to your holiday table. Imagine… crisp fennel, a peppery bite of arugula, savory prosciutto (think thin ribbons of salty bacon, minus the mess). And of course, pomegranates, which are exquisite and seasonally appropriate with their shiny red jewels, known as arils. The balsamic reduction provides a sweet and tangy counter to the salty prosciutto - and can be made well in advance. Or you can skip that step altogether and use a thick and syrupy aged balsamic vinegar instead.
1 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
6-ounce package thinly sliced prosciutto
1 fennel bulb, cored and shaved very thinly with a mandoline
5-ounce container of baby arugula
Extra-virgin olive oil, to dress the greens
1 teaspoon flake salt (such as Maldon)
3/4 cup pomegranate arils
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, torn into smaller pieces
1/3 cup chopped chives
To make the balsamic reduction:
Pour the balsamic vinegar into a small saucepan, add the honey, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it’s reduced down to about 1/4 cup. It should be thicker than maple syrup but still pourable. It’s tempting to speed up the process by increasing the heat and bubbling it more vigorously, but it might scorch. So stay the course, and keep an eye on it. Once reduced, transfer to a small bowl to cool.
To crisp the prosciutto:
Heat the oven to 350F. Arrange the prosciutto slices in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Don’t worry about overlap or irregularity - you’ll be breaking it up once baked. Bake on the center rack until crispy, about 15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the prosciutto. If you like extra crispy prosciutto, flip the slices over, separate them a bit, and bake for another 4-5 minutes. Cool, and break into bitesize pieces. Set aside until ready to assemble the salad.
To dress the greens:
Just before serving, place the arugula and shaved fennel in a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle with the flake salt, and drizzle with enough olive to lightly coat all the greens, but not wilt them. Toss with your hands (gently to avoid bruising) until combined and coated.
Arrange the greens on a large platter. Add the crispy prosciutto. Sprinkle with the pomegranate, mint and chives.
Pass the balsamic reduction (or aged balsamic) around so each person can drizzle it over their salad. *Doing this in advance mutes the vibrant colors of the salad.
I use this prosciutto from Costco. If you plan to make the balsamic reduction, no need to get fancy - I also get my balsamic vinegar at Costco. I recommend avoiding a store-bought reduction or “glaze” because they often include artificial colorants, gums, corn starch and glucose. An aged balsamic is a great option when looking for that intense flavor and a thicker consistency. Bear in mind, the more aged the more spendy - Due Vittorie is a good value. This recipe was inspired by one from Bon Appetit.
Walnut Fudge Brownie Balls
Healthful snacking so you don’t go too far off the rails.
Reach for one of these fudgy balls as Christmas treats are beckoning! They’re nutrient-dense and offer the sweet flavors of a walnut brownie. They only take a few minutes to whip up, and the cocoa coating is optional.
Makes about 13 balls
1-1/2 cups toasted walnuts
10 plump Medjool dates, pits and woody ends removed
1/4 cup Valrhona cocoa (or Guittard cocoa)
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 level tablespoon coconut flour
scant 1 teaspoon Himalayan pink salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Optional: extra cocoa to coat the balls
Add all the ingredients to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until everything is broken down and combined, but don’t process until completely smooth - you want to leave visible walnut bits. Be careful not to over-process it or the oils will separate, making the balls greasy.
Roll into balls. This cookie scoop makes the perfect-sized energy balls. Freezing them on a parchment-lined plate for an hour before transferring them to a storage container will help them hold their shape. Roll them in cocoa if you like, then refrigerate or freeze.
When coating the balls in cocoa, instead of rolling them individually, add about 1/4 cup of cocoa to an 8x8 baking pan, or similar vessel. Place all the balls in the pan and give it a little shake and they will all be coated at once. You can return any leftover cocoa back to the container.
These balls will not be nearly as chocolatey if you don’t use Valrhona cocoa. It can be found at Whole Foods on the Valrhona chocolate table - or Amazon. As a (distant) second choice I recommend Guittard Cocoa Rouge. I get Medjool dates at Costco, and transfer them to an airtight container so they don’t dry out. The balls will hold in the freezer for months when properly protected from freezer aromas. And they’ll remain chewy straight from the freezer because the fat content prevents them from freezing solid. I store them in these glass Weck jars, paired with these lids.
Brown paper packages tied up with strings… these are a few of my favorite things!
1) Truffle seems to be making a comeback - I think based largely on the popularity of this brand. I will admit, I took a decade away. But I just restocked my pantry with this old favorite: Casina Rossa Truffle & Salt which I used to sell in my specialty food shop. Sprinkle it on eggs, popcorn, French fries, mashed potatoes, burgers, etc. - it’s transformative! ($20.95)
2) Meet your new manicure. Bare Hands dry gloss manicure kit is a non-toxic alternative that mimics a clear coat of polish. I love a smooth, glossy nail! Before discovering Bare Hands, I relied on a chamois buffer and pumice cream, which was a messy, drying and laborious process. This minimalist nailcare kit involves a unique polisher fashioned out of glass. ($39)
3) Maldon Sea Salt: This gem needs to be in every food-lovers gifting repertoire. You can have it on your BFFs doorstep in 2 days for under $25. Our Maldon consumption has increased exponentially, because having a three-pound tub on hand is license to sprinkle with abandon. ($24.78)
4) Global Classic 7” Chef’s knife: is lightweight, easy to grip, and slices through dense root veg like butter. This knife is my all-time favorite - I was gifted my first one, and now I own three. Knives make great gifts! ($103.99)
5) Askinosie Chocolate: For the serious connoisseur - and those who care about the origin of the beans, the integrity of the process, and the passion of the people. There are other collections to choose from — and what makes this gift memorable is it becomes an activity to share with your favorite people! ($38)
6) Cuisinart mini prep: I couldn’t live without this fast and fuss-free way to make my salad dressings! The garlic is first into the bowl to be minced, and the other ingredients follow. It also aids in the emulsification of sauces and vinaigrettes. ($39.95)
7) Six Seasons: A New Way with Vegetables will inspire you to eat more veg by reinvigorating your palate and helping you reimagine the way you prepare vegetables. This is one of my favorite cookbooks of all time! ($21.31)
8) Organic Wool Dryer balls: scented dryer sheets are so passé. These 100% New Zealand wool dryer balls do the job without the toxic chemicals in fabric softeners and dryer sheets. And they are eco-friendly, fragrance-free, 100% biodegradable and reusable for 1000+ loads. ($8.97)
Thank you for being here - and for your kindness and generosity!
Wishing you all the JOYS of the season, sweet friends in food - x