Crave: 2 hearty salads for spring

photo by: Mother Earth News

Mirin and chinese five spice powder add unique flavor to this cabbage salad.

Hearty salads with vegetables like cauliflower, cabbage and mizuna are the perfect way to transition from cold days to milder spring weather.

These recipes are a good mix of sweet, spiced and crisp, and they don’t take too much work to prepare, either.

Five-Spice Red Cabbage Salad

The unique flavor of this dish comes from a combination of mirin, a syrupy cooking wine made from rice, and Chinese five-spice powder, which brings a heady pungency. You could also substitute curry powder for a different take. Serve it chilled or at room temperature.

Ingredients:

1 red cabbage (about 1 3⁄4 pounds)

1⁄4 cup mirin

1 1⁄2 teaspoons sea salt

1 1⁄2 teaspoons Chinese five-spice powder

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 bunch green onions, white and green parts, thinly sliced

1⁄2 cup sliced almonds

1 avocado, halved, pitted, peeled, diced and tossed with a large pinch of salt

Directions:

Toast the almonds by baking them in a 350-degree oven for 5 to 10 minutes. Keep a close eye on them to prevent burning.

To chop cabbage, halve head through stem end, cut out core and place halves cut-side down. Cut halves into 1⁄4-inch-thick slices, then rotate the slices 90 degrees and cut across slices to create 1⁄4-inch pieces. You will have about 8 cups.

In a large bowl, toss cabbage with mirin, salt and five-spice powder.

Let stand for 15 minutes at room temperature, or up to 2 hours in refrigerator if you plan to serve salad chilled.

Add oil, green onions and almonds and toss. Taste and add additional salt and mirin if needed. Add avocado and toss gently. The salad will wilt; eat it within a few hours for optimum crunch. Serves 4.

Mizuna Salad with Cumin-Roasted Cauliflower

You get a double dose of brassicas in this North African-inspired salad. The honeyed sweetness of the dates creates a perfect balance with cumin-laced cauliflower and mildly peppery greens (arugula can be substituted for mizuna) Find fresh dates in the produce section, or dried dates near raisins.

Ingredients:

1 small head cauliflower, cored and cut into bite-size florets (about 4 cups)

5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

3⁄4 teaspoon sea salt, divided

13⁄4 teaspoons ground cumin, divided

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 teaspoon honey

1⁄4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 large bunch mizuna, large stems removed, or one 5-ounce package baby arugula (about

12 cups loosely packed)

4 fresh or dried dates, pitted and finely chopped (about 1⁄2 cup)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Put cauliflower on rimmed baking sheet, drizzle with 2 tablespoons oil and sprinkle with 1⁄2 teaspoon salt and 1 1⁄2 teaspoons cumin. Toss to coat evenly and spread in a single layer.

Roast for approximately 15 minutes or until golden brown and tender but not mushy.

In a small bowl, whisk together lemon juice, honey, remaining 1⁄4 teaspoon salt and cumin, and pepper. Whisk in remaining 3 tablespoons oil in a stream.

In a serving bowl, combine roasted cauliflower, mizuna and dates. Drizzle with dressing, and toss to coat evenly. Taste and add additional salt and pepper if needed. Serve immediately.

Serves 4.

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