I have been more and more interested this year in eating food that is actually in season. I have started going to a market that is about 25 minutes away from my house simply because I am able to find in-season produce that looks happy at a price that I can still afford. It is beyond worth the drive. Not all of it is organic, but when I can find it at a price that makes me happy, I go for it (this usually happens with apples). I have found that if I am looking at only the foods are meant to be consumed in a season, the prices make sense. But if I walk over to the strawberries in November, they are $5 (which is way more than you should pay for strawberries in a grocery store). It makes so much more sense to me to eat food when it is at its peak, when it will taste its best and I am finding serious pleasure in learning to love new things.
This salad is a dream in a bowl. I've wanted to do a "charred romaine" salad for a while and when this idea came to me, it had to happen immediately. It really takes so few ingredients to make something so delightful. When you char the romaine like I have in this recipe, it almost takes on the flavor of asparagus. And then you add something sweet, something tart and something crunchy, topped with the most lovely fall flavors of sage and lemon. Garlic because I am a fiend gives a nice spice and compliments everything so well. You won't want to stop eating this salad. I've given instructions on a salad meant for one or two if being used on the side (would be lovely with a pork tenderloin or a roast chicken), but is quite easily multiplied for a crowd, though I would definitely wait to char the romaine until close to serving.
Charred Romaine Autumn Salad
1 romaine heart, chopped
1/4 pear, diced
1/4 cup chopped, toasted pecans
1/3 cup pomegranate seeds
olive oil, salt & pepper
Meyer lemon, shallot & sage vinaigrette
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
juice of 1/2 meyer lemon (half the amount of olive oil)
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. salt (eyeball it)
1/4 tsp. pepper (eyeball it)
1/2 shallot, halved and thinly sliced
3 sage leaves, torn
1. First, let's make some vinaigrette! Squeeze lemon juice in a medium bowl. Add olive oil & whisk. Now add the garlic, shallot, sage, salt & pepper. Whisk well. Let the flavors sit together while you assemble the rest of the salad.
2. Add your pecans to a small skillet over medium heat. I used pecan halves and chopped after I toasted them. You will be able to smell when they are done, but it should take about 5 minutes. There will be slightly darker spots on some of the nuts. If you use pre-chopped nuts, they will likely toast more quickly.
3. Prepare your pear, pomegranate (I like to de-seed a whole pomegranate and keep in the fridge) and romaine lettuce.
4. Now, in a medium skillet over medium-high heat, add a small drizzle of olive oil and your chopped romaine. You want it to wilt slightly and get a few dark spots.
5. Assemble! In a larger bowl, add your romaine, followed by the pears, pecans and pomegranates. Drizzle over a couple small spoonfuls of the vinaigrette.