Super Seed Salad with Apple and Miso Vinaigrette
When you find a kindred spirit in the kitchen, it’s a wonderful thing — that certain someone you can cook alongside without effort. For me, nobody fits the bill better than my sister, Annie. We have our own unspoken code when it comes to cooking, filling in and picking up where the other leaves off. Annie will finish the greens I started in the sauté pan while I check on her croutons. I’ll tinker with the curry she was working on while she turns to pour us glasses of wine. I’ll scrub a few dishes while she sets the table. Out of that alchemy always comes something new and delicious for me to bring to my home kitchen. This Super Seed Salad with Apple and Miso Vinaigrette is latest example.
A Super Seed Salad
Two things make this salad special. The first is loads of seeds that get toasted and salted in a hot skillet until they’re supremely crunchy. The combination of sunflower, pumpkin, and sesame seeds add not only pleasing texture, but plenty of nutrition, too (hello healthy fats and fiber). The salad also includes whole coriander seeds, which are its secret weapon for flavor. Crush them lightly in a mortar and pestle or with a chef’s knife before adding to the pan to toast.
The other key element is the vinaigrette. Made with apple cider vinegar and miso paste, it’s a dressing I’ve been making since Annie introduced it to me last year. White miso is thick, so when whisked with vinegar and oil, gives the dressing nice body as it coats the lettuce. The miso also adds depth, umami, and the good-for-you bacteria that comes from fermented foods. And even though miso is an ingredient from the Asian pantry, it doesn’t lend a distinctly Asian flavor to this salad.
The Lettuce for this Salad
From there it’s a matter of washing lettuce and cutting a good, crisp apple. I like to use a combination of butter lettuce or another tender variety as the foundation and then work in chicories, such as radicchio, endive, or escarole. The combination of sweet and more bitter lettuce is a good one, especially paired with a sweet/tart apple. You could also use arugula instead of chicories if preferred.
How to Serve the Salad
As for when to serve this salad? It’s terrific for fall or winter meals, a bright and crunchy counterpoint to heavier cold weather dishes. Annie and I served it to a table of eight along with a couple of roast chickens. We thought we’d made too much, but when the last leaf of lettuce was gone from the bowl, even the kids were asking for seconds. It could also be a tasty main-dish salad for lunch or a light supper with sliced chicken breast or a few pieces of toasted baguette smeared with goat cheese on the side. If you’re in the mood, invite your kitchen kindred spirit over to make it with you. Who knows what else you’ll cook up!
Other Fall & Winter Salad Recipes You Might Like
Super Seed Salad with Crunchy Apple and Miso Vinaigrette
Adding a heap of toasted seeds to this salad adds appealing crunch and plenty of good nutrition. Consider making a double batch of seeds while you’re at it and store the extras in a jar to add to other salads and vegetable dishes. If you don’t have coriander seeds, add 1/4 tsp ground coriander to the vinaigrette. Taste and add more coriander, if desired.
- 2 teaspoons white or mellow miso paste (sold in the refrigerated section of the market)
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon pure maple syrup
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons raw pepitas
- 3 tablespoons raw sunflower seeds
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 heaping tablespoon sesame seeds
- 2 teaspoons coriander seeds (lightly crushed in a mortar and pestle or lightly chopped with a chef’s knife)
- 1 head butter or red leaf lettuce, washed, dried, and torn into large pieces
- 2 handfuls roughly chopped endive, radicchio, or escarole (or arugula)
- 1 crisp apple cut into thick matchsticks
- Freshly ground black pepper
To make the vinaigrette, in a medium bowl, whisk together the miso, Dijon, vinegar, and maple syrup until smooth with no tiny lumps. Drizzle in the olive oil while vigorously whisking until blended. Set aside.
Heat the 1/2 tsp olive oil over medium in a medium/large skillet. Tilt the pan to distribute the oil, then add the pepitas, sunflower seeds and salt. Toast the seeds, stirring regularly, until the sunflower seeds begin to brown. Add the sesame seeds and coriander seeds and continue to cook until the sesame seeds are golden. Transfer to a small plate to cool.
In a large salad bowl, toss together the lettuces, chicories, and apple. Just before serving, drizzle on some of the dressing, adding a light dusting of black pepper, and toss the salad. Taste and add more dressing if needed. Scatter the seeds over the top and serve immediately.