I have never been (nor do I ever plan on being) one of these people who goes on a diet after the holidays. It’s disheartening to hear people speak as though they have to punish themselves at the start of the new year by going on a restrictive diet just because they ate some cookies and drank a little more alcohol than usual over the holiday season. I don’t do “clean eating” or fasting. Instead, I cook with as many whole and unprocessed ingredients as possible with a heavy emphasis on seasonal produce. I believe in balance and moderation for just about everything in life, including (and especially) food. Just because the calendar has flipped to the start of a new year, doesn’t mean I won’t continue to enjoy a piece of chocolate, a glass of wine, or the occasional steak. The cold months don’t last long here on the Gulf Coast, so I take every opportunity to make hearty recipes like braised short ribs with polenta, Texas chili, and my favorite baked rigatoni. Sorry (really not sorry) but you will never see me juicing my vegetables! It’s just not my thing. That being said, everyone has to do what works best for them, their body, and their lifestyle. No judgement here, I promise! I prefer to balance out the occasional comfort foods with a fresh salad using produce that is in season. My winter fennel, radicchio, and citrus salad is a perfect example of how you can combine some of winter’s most flavorful produce into a delicious starter, side, or finale to your meal.
I’ve always thought that autumn and winter salads get short shrift since salads made in spring and summer grab the spotlight due to the abundant variety of produce available during the warmer months. But there is just as much fruit and vegetable variety during the colder months–more than you may think. Fennel, endive, radicchio, and citrus are fall and winter produce items, which means they are at their peak of flavor and quality during their natural growing season.
Radicchio and endive belong to the chicory family of plants. There are several varieties of radicchio cultivated both domestically and throughout Europe, but the variety most often found in American grocery stores is radicchio di Chioggia, which grows in a tight, round head about the size of a small grapefruit. It is characterized by dark red leaves with white ribs. Belgian endive is a small, torpedo-shaped lettuce with pale yellow and white leaves. Both radicchio and Belgian endive owe their signature bitter flavor from a compound known as intybin, which helps stimulate the appetite and promote digestion. The bitter flavor of radicchio and endive act as a counterpoint to sweet and sour flavors, so the lettuces pair especially well with anise-flavored fennel and sweet-tart oranges. A final garnish of lightly toasted, chopped hazelnuts adds a distinct nutty flavor and crunch to this salad. A simple citrus vinaigrette made with fresh orange juice and delicate white balsamic vinegar complements and enhances both the bitter and sweet flavors of the vegetables, making this the perfect winter salad to serve at your next meal.
In addition to sharing a new recipe with you, I thought I would also use my second post of 2019 to share my goals and intentions for the new year. I was re-reading the post I wrote last year to see if I had followed through with most of my goals (kinda sorta maybe not really), and I liked the idea of sharing my new year’s intentions on my blog. Here goes!
More Focus, Less Distraction
Last year I felt like my brain was in a permanent state of “short circuit”. I noticed my attention span was shorter and more erratic, and I was often forgetful. It was not a good feeling. I did a horrible job of managing my time and felt like many tasks, projects, and commitments were always being done at the last minute. During the last days of December, I finally spent time in my office to organize my files, paperwork, reading material, and calendars. I bought myself the Nourished Planner last month use it exclusively to keep track of my editorial calendar and blogging to-do list. It feels great having a better blogging organizational system, and I definitely feel much more focused. I still have a lot of room for improvement, but I’m off to a good start.
Cook from my cookbooks
This intention is on “auto renew” every year because I love reading and cooking from my cookbooks. Cooking from my cookbooks has made me a better cook and baker. I am still not using my cookbooks as often as I’d like, so I’ll be continuing to improve upon this goal, and I’m excited to try new recipes and learn new techniques.
Eat down the pantry
With all the wonderful blogs, Instagram accounts, food websites, and cookbooks I read, there is no shortage of recipes I want to try. This often results in some enthusiastic grocery shopping and an overflowing pantry. I’m a big believer in a well-stocked pantry, but mine sometimes gets out of control (please say I’m not the only one). I’m going to make a more concerted effort to “eat down the pantry” this year and create recipes around what I already have on hand.
You don’t even want to know how many books I am currently reading simultaneously. It doesn’t help my goal of getting more focused. Ha! But honestly, I kind of like having several books bookmarked at once. Most of the books I’m reading are non-fiction about cooking and self-improvement, and they can be read in small increments. However, for the past several years, I haven’t dedicated time to reading for pleasure the way I used to do. I also used to be able to read for an hour or more at night before bed. Not anymore. I’m often passed out before 10 pm (thanks a lot, forties). Thankfully, I am still a morning person so I need to work on making quiet reading time for when I’m most alert.
Learn more Instant Pot recipes
I’m definitely in the “like it” Instant Pot camp, although to be honest, I don’t think I will ever become a die-hard devotee who uses it every day, multiple times a day. Part of me still feels like I’m cheating on my pots, pans, oven, and stovetop when I use it, but I remind myself that I felt the same way when I started using my slow cooker. I love the IP for cooking dried beans and making rice, and I really love the IP for making homemade chicken stock/bone broth. I’ve hesitated making a full meal (soup, stew, etc.) in the IP mostly because I never made the time to find cookbooks dedicated to IP recipes. That’s all about to change because I recently bought this cookbook and this cookbook, and am excited to try the recipes. My first food blogger crush is also killing it with IP recipes that I want to try. I’m currently working on a post to show you how I make my bone broth in my IP, so stay tuned.
I have the tendency to run myself ragged doing too many things at once and trying to be too many things to too many people. Over the last several years, I have gotten much better at breaking this habit. I have been working on setting boundaries and not committing to requests right away. I’ve also been doing (and want to continue doing) a good job of keeping up my physical health: drinking plenty of water, getting fresh air, getting enough sleep, eating nutritiously, and not skipping meals. This new year will be a continuation of all these good mental and physical good habits.
There you have it–a new recipe and my goals for the new year! It feels good to share my goals and intentions. 2019 is feeling pretty good so far. A presto!
Winter Fennel, Radicchio + Citrus Salad
1 fennel bulb, washed and trimmed
1 head radicchio, washed and any wilted outer leaves discarded
1 head Belgian endive, washed, root end trimmed off, and any wilted outer leaves discarded
2 large navel oranges
¼ cup (50 mL) extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup (50 mL) freshly squeezed orange juice (from 1 navel orange)
2 Tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
½ teaspoon salt
Black pepper, to taste (optional)
½ cup (80 grams) whole hazelnuts, toasted lightly and roughly chopped
Cut the fennel bulb in half lengthwise. Cut out and discard the core. Using a mandoline, slice the fennel halves into thin slices and set them aside.
Cut the head of radicchio in half. Cut out and discard the core. Using a sharp knife, slice the radicchio halves thinly into ribbons and set them aside.
Leaving the endive head intact, use a sharp knife to cut it into thin rings, and set them aside.
Transfer the sliced fennel, radicchio, and endive to a shallow serving bowl or large platter. Use your hands to toss the vegetables lightly to mix them up.
Use a sharp paring knife to slice away the peel and pith of 1 navel orange, then slice the orange into thin rounds and place them on top of the vegetables.
In a small jar, combine the olive oil, orange juice, white balsamic vinegar, and salt. Close the lid tightly and shake the jar until the ingredients are emulsified. Taste the dressing and adjust it for salt if necessary. Pour some of the dressing over the salad and toss gently to combine. Add more dressing if necessary. Sprinkle the pepper (if using) and chopped, toasted hazelnuts on top of the salad. Serve immediately.