Garlic Caper Winter Harvest Salad for Friends

Fridays are usually the day everyone looks forward to. Plans are set to meet up with friends, eat, drink, and be merry. Whatever your day holds in store, anticipation of the coming evening makes the hours fly by.

This last Friday, it was absolutely beautiful. It was one of those crystal clear fall days where the sun is too bright for your eyes, and the air is crisp and clean. The morning was spent cooking up a storm, as the sun rays warmed the kitchen, and folk music tunes played in the air. I didn't even realize how long I had spent in the kitchen creating one dish after another, until I decided to go for a run. Wow! It was already after noon. I had completely lost sight of time preparing a dinner feast. Good friends were coming to visit for an evening of wine tasting in Woodenville, followed by my dinner creations at home. All my hard work payed off. It turned out to be a wonderful evening, full of great wine, food, and conversation. We even played boardgames into the later hours of the night. 

This winter harvest salad with a garlic and caper vinaigrette, is one of my favorites. The bold flavors of the garlic and capers make a unique combination, while roasted beets and walnuts add a earthy richness. It happened to be the salad I shared with our friends on friday night. They loved it, as much I do. Therefore, I share this recipe as a recipe of friendship, to inspire dinner parties for many, or even nights just for two. I share this in remembrance of the beautiful fall evening we all shared together. 

Full of color, and full of variety, this salad can come together with whatever you have at home. I used half a bunch of kale, some green and red lettuce, some cabbage, and some red beets. However, you can use whatever you like. You can substitute the walnuts for sunflower seeds, but make sure to toss them in a bit of olive oil and salt before roasting.

Red Beets: Beets are full of betalains, which give the beet its characteristic red-violet color. These compounds also act as antioxidants, and have anti-inflammatory properties. Beets are also high in fiber, which promotes satiety, as well as blood sugar control. 

Kale: Kale is noted for its high antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds that fight against cancer. Glucosinolates are well researched compounds found in kale that have been shown to have preventative effects in colon, breast, ovarian, bladder, and prostate cancers.

Walnuts: Walnuts are full of good omega-3's. 95% of your daily omega-3 fatty acids are found in a 1/4 cup of walnuts. Omega-3 fatty acids are important in reducing inflammation in the body as well as reducing triglyceride levels and boosting overall heart health. 

Now after a little information on a few of the amazing ingredients in this beautiful salad, I encourage you to try it at home! 

Garlic Caper Winter Harvest Salad
Makes 4 large servings


For the Salad:
1/2 bunch kale, deveined and chopped into small chunks
1/2 head green lettuce
1/2 head red lettuce
1 cup finely sliced red cabbage
3 medium-small red beets, thinly sliced
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup roasted walnuts, roughly chopped
1/4 cup feta
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt 

Garlic Caper Vinaigrette
Makes about 3/4 cup dressing
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/8 cup apple cider vinegar **
Juice of one lemon**
2 Tbsp capers
1 Tbsp caper juice
1 Tbsp finely minced garlic
1 Tbsp honey
1/2 tsp black pepper

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Roast raw walnuts for about 8-10 minutes. BE CAREFUL. Depending on how hot your oven is, this can take one minute more or less and the walnuts have a fine line of being roasted and then BURNT. 

When walnuts are done, allow them to cool and turn the oven up to 425 degrees. Toss the sliced red beets with the 1 tbsp olive oil and season with a little salt and pepper. Spread evenly on a baking sheet. Bake for about 12 minutes or until tender. Allow to cool

Meanwhile, place all greens, and kale into a bowl of water and allow to soak. Mix together all the ingredients for the vinaigrette in glass gar with lid. **For the vinegar and lemon juice I measure them out to equal a 1/4 cup together. 

Shake well and allow to sit. The longer it marinates, the more garlic will infuse into oil. Drain the greens and shake off the excess water. DO NOT USE A salad spinner. They make the greens too dry. Rip the salad into small pieces and place into a large salad bowl. Devein the kale, and cut into small chunks. Add the kale, cilantro, cabbage, and toss.

Top with the roasted beets, roasted walnuts, and feta. Dress the salad with about half of the vinaigrette and mix well. Serve immediately.

Note: It tastes best shared with FRIENDS :)

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