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I know salads generally aren’t the first thing you think of making this time of year.  All kinds of comforting, warming foods are most likely on the menu. The usual salad suspects, like tomatoes and cucumbers, out of season and flavorless, don’t make the thought of eating your greens any more appealing.

But I think this salad might just change your mind.  It’s simple to make, has beautiful color and pairs very well with a hearty soup, say minestone, or even good ol’ homemade mac & cheese.

Here’s what you’ll need…

For the salad:

Some colorful greens–I used Baby Romaine, but a nice Herb mix of greens would be great too.

Carrot–here you can slice, dice or just use your vegetable peeler to get the long shavings

Dried cranberries, add as little or as much as you like.

Walnuts–toast in a dry skillet over low to medium heat.  Give them a couple of tosses in the skillet to ensure they toast on all sides.  You’ll know they are done by the toasty aroma.  Do not skip this step.  It adds great flavor to the salad.

For dressing:

2 T apple cider vinegar

2 T maple syrup

2 tsp of dijon mustard

1/3 cup olive oil

salt and pepper.

The above are measurements I used in making this dressing, but don’t feel like you have to measure.  You can just as easily eyeball your amounts into a mason jar and give it a good shake to mix.

Toss salad and dressing together in a large bowl or arrange on individual plates.

Here’s hoping this salad will bring a little green into your winter menu.

Alison

I have been lucky enough to be surrounded by good cooks in my life.  My mom, both of my grandmothers, friends and a sister in law.  You will never want for a good meal with these women around.  I know the MEN in my life would most certainly agree!

I love to cook.  Almost as much as I love taking pictures, it’s definitely a close second.  There is something very relaxing about it for me, most days anyway.  I love the warmth and aroma of a simmering pot, the color and textures of the food on a plate, the satisfaction that comes from feeding my family something homemade.

A few years ago I inherited my grandma’s recipe box.  I was so excited to go through and find the recipes for those family favorites she had made as I was growing up.  There were handwritten recipes of her own and those given to her by friends. Clippings from the food sections of magazines and newspapers.  I even found a few in my own handwriting, recipes she had me recopy when the originals had become too worn.  Such treasures.

Several of her recipes have now become staples in my own home, this recipe for Minestone soup being one of them.

Soups have been on heavy rotation for us this winter and this one gets lots of requests.  We even had it for our Christmas Eve dinner.  It is the wonderful soup and works perfectly as leftovers for lunch the next day.

Minestrone Soup

6 sticks of Italian sausage, sliced  (this is optional, I’ve had it with and without sausage and it’s excellent both ways)

1 yellow onion sliced thin

2 carrots

1/2c celery

2 potatoes, diced

4-6 cups chicken or vegetable stock

1 28oz can tomatoes

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 cup spaghetti broken into 1 inch pieces

1 1/2 tsp dried basil

3 T chopped, fresh parsley

salt and pepper to taste

Parmesan cheese

If using, brown the sausage in dutch oven.  Add chopped celery, carrots, onion, potato and garlic.  Cook til onions are translucent.  Add tomatoes, stock, basil and parsley.  Simmer til vegetables are tender, then add pasta.  Serve with parmesan cheese and homemade croutons.

Enjoy!

Alison

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