California still throws me out of my socks when it comes to natural beauty. And we are going on our third year here. I hope being so captivated by this scenery never fades. The air is warming up, plants are blooming in places and corners you would not imagine they could. We dared to fill up our mini kiddie pool in the yard, just a bit to splash around - I still operate in red code drought mode.
But strolling through Monterey Market in Berkeley made it official: We are kicking off salad season.
Roasted vegetables soups were a hit at dinner table this past fall-winter-spring, and their benefits are enormous. I will not put those recipes away yet but give them a summery twist too keep them in the meal rotation year around. I have a stack of cold soup ideas stashed away in my top drawer - stay tuned. But now my fingers are itching to make fresh bowls of crunchy bites crowned with indulging and nourishing toppings. Now this one here will turn broccoli and cauliflower skeptics around. All the textures work really well together.
On The Menu: Raw Cauliflower + Broccoli Florets, Sliced Carrots and Jicama on a bed of Baby Spinach w/ Slices of Silky Sheep Milk Cheese Marinated in Balsamic Vinegar + Topped with Roasted Pistachio Halves.
It is all in season right now: Cauliflower, broccoli and carrots. And jicama. Jicama is a Mexican turnip. Very crunchy and light in flavor. It's taste and texture is comparable to a crossover of apple and radish. Jicama is part of the potato family and packed with lots of good things: antioxidants, anti-inflammatory properties, phosphate, potassium and fiber. I also added a hand full or two of baby spinach leaves to contrast the crunchy texture of the cruciferous, the jicama and the carrots. Everything fresh and raw. The roasting time, as much as I've enjoyed it this winter, is taking a little break with the warmer weather making its debut. Except roasting veggies on the grill, that will stay in the game.
The sheep milk cheese is from Trader Joes. It's become one of my best friends. Silky, mild and still incredibly flavorful. But you can also use aged Manchego or other kinds of cheeses you enjoy that will absorb the balsamic vinegar marinade. Aged cheeses, goat or sheep are good options.
The ingredients: Serves 2+
- 2-3 cups broccoli florets [fresh, raw]
- 2-3 cups cauliflower florets [fresh, raw]
- 2 cups baby spinach leaves [fresh, raw]
- 1.5 cups carrots, grated [fresh, raw]
- 1 cup Jicama, cubed [fresh, raw. You can buy jicama at Trader Joes at the moment]
Topping + Dressing
- Sheep milk cheese, sliced [slice thickness depends a bit on the size and texture of the cheese you choose, if it crumbles quickly, cut thicker slices]
- 1/2 cup pistachio halves, roasted
- Balsamic vinegar, just enough to marinate the cheese. Use it later for the salad dressing.
- 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive or walnut oil
- 1/2 Tbsp onion powder
- Pinch of salt to taste
- In a small bowl place sliced cheese and pour balsamic vinegar over it to barely cover. Add half of the pistachios to the marinade too. Let it sit for 30 mins or longer. You can keep it refrigerated while you wait.
- Get all the veggies cleaned, dried and cut up.
- In a large salad bowl mix together spinach leaves, broccoli and cauliflower florets, carrots and jicama.
- Add the olive or walnut oil and toss to coat. We absorb much better the fat-soluble vitamins of vegetables like carrots in combination with oils. Flavor the mixture with the onion powder, some salt and pepper.
- Once your vegetables are well mixed up you can add the slices of cheese and nuts on top. Use the balsamic vinegar left over for your salad's dressing. Just pour it over, grab the remaining pistachios and add them to the party.
Bon appetit. Buen provecho. Guten Appetit xx