With only a month officially left of winter, I feel it time to confess why I love this season so much. Winter is the one season of the year that I truly indulge in all of food cravings and desires. Slow roasted pork, creamy thick soups, buttery risottos and lots of warm winter puddings with custard are my perfect winter foods. I also have to confess that winter is the only month of the year that I don’t worry about weight and leave the added inches of my waistline to worry about when springtime comes.
Having said this however, I do tend to find myself thinking a lot about salads. Although I agree that nothing is better than a beautiful crisp salad of simple leaves, a few vegetables and a delicate vinaigrette, I know that when I come home at night and get cosy from the wet cold weather outside, that nothing will bring me to make ‘that’ salad and enjoy it like I do in summer.
With a few simple changes however I have found myself creating the perfect salad to fit my need for fresh vegetables as well as including my winter indulges.
One thing to note to all readers, is that although this is a salad, it is however not a low fat winter substitute. As I confessed earlier I indulge in the winter bulge the few months that I can.
This salad is the perfect match of all tastes. The salty smokiness of the crisp pancetta, tossed amongst sweet roasted pumpkin and sweet potato, matched perfectly with an tart yet hearty vinaigrette, not to forget the crunch of lettuce leaves and walnuts.
250g hearty lettuce leaves, such as radicchio, treviso and frisse
250g pancetta or speck, in a block not sliced
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into 2-3 cm pieces
1/4 butternut pumpkin, cut into 2-3 cm pieces
1 Spanish onion, quartered
150g button mushrooms
1 punnet vine ripened cherry tomatoes
2 zucchini, sliced 1-2 cm thick
1 bunch of thyme
1 whole clove of garlic
50ml red wine vinegar
130ml extra virgin olive oil
20 ml truffle oil
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
Cut skin off the pancetta, and cut into 1 cm cubes. Place sweet potato, pumpkin, onion, garlic, thyme, pancetta and drizzle with olive oil until vegetables are all glossy.
Roast in oven for 20 minutes and add the mushrooms whole, zucchini, tomatoes and walnuts. Season with salt and pepper and continue to roast for another 10 –15 minutes are until the vegetables are cooked through and the pancetta is crispy.
Allow the vegetables to cool slightly, drain the oil and reserve for the dressing.
In a large bowl whisk together vinegar, mustard salt and pepper. Slowly, while continuing to whisk drizzle in the oils. Check for final seasoning.
To serve toss the warm vegetables, and walnuts together with the lettuce leaves. Drizzle with the dressing and serve with crusty baguette.
Serves 3-4 generously.