It’s February. That means in Montreal it’s cold. We collectively eschew things such as flipflops, sangria, and yes, green salads in favour of slow-cooked meats, roasted vegetables, and if salad has to be on the menu it had better be either pickled or warm. It’s a matter of practicality and of comfort. There aren’t too many farms growing cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, and lettuce.
But there is one. And with sweet cherry tomatoes, homemade mixed sprouts, pomegranate seeds, and Boston lettuce with texture instead of air-stuffed fibre, it’s my favourite raw winter comfort. Doesn’t sound like comfort food? The comfort comes in the form of avocado and rich tahini, making what may seem like a light appetizer into a creamy, rich and satisfying treat. The “winter/summer” name comes from the fact that these vegetables are available year-round from the Lufa Farms rooftop greenhouse in Montreal. In February I smiled at the fact that I was eating a salad of pesticide-free vegetables harvested that morning while my city froze.
Raw Winter/Summer Green Salad with Avocado and Miso-Tahini Dressing
Serves 4. Ingredients (everything but the lettuce is optional or exchangeable for another vegetable):
1 head Boston lettuce (or red leaf or other pesticide-free salad green)
a few tomatoes (zebrinos or other heirloom varieties, cherry tomatoes, cocktail tomatoes or beefsteak – make sure they’re pesticide-free if you don’t have a Lufa Farms Fresh Basket)
2 small Lebanese cucumbers or 1/2 English cucumber
1/2 avocado, pitted and cubed or sliced
3 tbsp pomegranate seeds (try cutting it in a bowl of water so it doesn’t splatter everywhere)
1/2 cup sprouts (alfalfa, pea, mustard, fenugreek, etc.)
2 tsp miso
2 tbsp tahini
Combine all salad ingredients in a large bowl and shmear 1/2 tsp miso and 1/2 tbsp tahini on the side of each plate. If you want to make a thinner dressing combine the full amount of miso and tahini in a small bowl and add a tbsp of water at a time until you reach your preferred consistency. Or add a little lemon along with some water. I like it thick because you can taste the dressing with each bite instead of watering it down and soaking the beautiful leaves.
How to not get sick of salad:
Vary the ingredients. We all know it’s so good for you, especially since it’s so fresh and colourful and flavourful, but while the (little bit of) avocado, for example, isn’t local, it turns the salad into a luxury dish for me. Avocado and tomato with something salty (in this case miso) screams guacamole and summer, and a little tahini mixed with that miso on the side (not to coat the whole salad in it, just to have a little with each bite – a smear, or a “shmear” if you think in terms of cream cheese) is one way to add some rib-sticking richness for winter. Save the light lemon dressing or simple balsamic and oil for May.
Other salad additions or variations:
Add leftover roasted vegetables including beets, potatoes, carrots, and mushrooms. Or add fresh or roasted peppers – the Lufa Farms conical and bell peppers are so crisp I thought they were fake the first time I had them…Or try adding some goat cheese. That’s why you see it on all the menus right now – it’s available and it’s satisfying. For the vegans out there try a “raw” cheese of soaked and puréed nuts with a little lemon juice and salt, or replace the lemon with rejuvelac if you’ve got it (I just made it for the first time! Sprout grain and then soak it in water for a few extra days to let it ferment. Then pour off the liquid which has become “rejuvelac”. Instructions here).