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Thursday, December 13, 2012

Connie's Salad

The other day I bought fresh broccoli at the grocery.  For the stems.  LOL.  Now, you think you have proof that I've really lost my mind, don't you?

Until a few years ago, broccoli stems were cut off and tossed.  Then, broccoli slaw became popular.  I've been tossing the peeled and sliced stems into salads ever since I discovered how good they are - and how good FOR you they are. 

Our dinner menu was a meat, a salad and sweet potato.  I can't even remember what the meat was to be...  Ah, old age is a wonderful thing!  Connie said a salad and the entree would be enough for him.  I still wanted some sweet potato.  On top of that, I had some leftover broccoli stems to use up.  And, some canned whole beets.  And, some spiced pecans.  Now, in my opinion, blue cheese and beets are soul mates.  Rather like Connie and me :-) 

Fine then.  I'd make a salad and include sweet potato.  How to do so?  My mind immediately went to croutons.  How about shredding a third of the potato and frying it in some vegetable oil?  What's the worst that could happen?  It'd taste horrid.  I had a plan.

What did we think?  Connie says he has a new favorite salad.  I've opened another can of beets and bought broccoli for the stems.  And, we're working our way through the sweet potato.  We loved the combination of flavors and textures.  This is one we'll make regularly!

I didn't measure as I went but will give you a rough idea of what I did...

Connie's Salad


shredded lettuce
sliced canned beets
peeled and sliced broccoli stems

crumbled blue cheese
spiced pecans
Emeril's seasoning or other Cajun seasoning
brown sugar
fried sweet potato shreds
olive oil
red wine vinegar
finely minced shallot


Make the dressing first and set it aside. 

Whisk together about 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil with a tablespoon of red wine vinegar, a heaping teaspoon of dijon mustard, a finely minced shallot and about a half a teaspoon of sugar.  Add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

Next, make the spiced pecans.  In a small skillet melt about a tablespoon of butter.  Add a handful of pecans and allow them to brown.  Toss in a couple of teaspoons of dark brown sugar and Emeril's seasoning.  Once the sugar has caramelized, remove the pecans frm the heat.  (Remember - these were leftovers so I don't have prep photos...)

Now, it's time to fry the sweet potato shreds.  In a small, sturdy saucepan, pour about 1/2" of vegetable oil.  Heat it until it's shimmering.  While it's heating, peel about a third of a large sweet potato and shred it on the large holes of a grater. 

I did not pat it dry in paper towels.  Once the oil is hot, add half the sweet potato shreds. 

Stir them occasionally and keep a REALLY good eye on them because they'll go from perfect to burned in a heartbeat!  You want to get them nice and brown and crispy.  Drain them on paper towels.  See the cool tool I scooped them with?  That's one of the things Mom didn't take along when she moved to her independent living apartment.  Lucky me!

It's finally time to assemble the salads:

Start with a big handful of lettuce. Top that with beets, broccoli stems and blue cheese.  Drizzle with the dressing.  Sprinkle over the spiced pecans then top with the sweet potato shreds. 

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