After the holidays, I always have a refrigerator filled with a little of this and a little of that. They're never enough to serve as a whole meal, but often I can devise interesting creations with them.
This year, for instance, I turned the remains of a turnip gratin into a cream of turnip soup by pureeing the cooked vegetables and adding chicken stock and half and half to the mixture. I sliced some kielbasa, bought for a holiday breakfast meal, and sauteed it with onions to serve with mashed potatoes for supper another night.
But my favorite recent invention is a salad of sliced pears, apples and sweet red onions, with curly endive and red oak leaf lettuce. I tossed them in a honey-and-cider-vinegar dressing and sprinkled crumbled bacon and chopped walnuts on top. Everything, except the endive, was surplus from my holiday cooking.
Winter salad in honey vinaigrette
Makes 6 servings
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/3 cup canola oil
1 Granny Smith apple
1 ripe yellow or red pear
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
4 cups curly endive (frisee), cleaned, dried and separated (see Note)
4 cups red oak leaf or red leaf lettuce, cleaned, dried and torn into bite-size pieces
4 to 6 lean strips bacon, fried until crisp and crumbled
3 tablespoons walnuts, chopped
To prepare dressing, whisk honey, vinegar and mustard in large, nonreactive mixing bowl until well blended. Whisk in oil. Season lightly with salt. Set aside.
To prepare salad, clean but do not peel apple and pear. Halve fruit lengthwise and remove stems and cores, then slice thinly. Add to bowl with dressing. Add onion slices and toss. Let apple, pear and onion marinate 5 to 10 minutes. Add endive and lettuce and toss well.
To serve, divide salad evenly and mound on 6 salad plates. Garnish each with some crumbled bacon and nuts. Serve immediately.
Note: Curly endive is a variety of chicory, which is also sold under its French name, frisee. Frisee has small, pale green, lacy leaves and a slightly tart taste. It is milder than other chicories. When I can't find a whole head of this green, I check the bins of mesclun, which usually have sprigs of frisee in them, and pick out what I need.