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Warm Winter Vegetable Buttermilk "Caesar"

This is another one of those dinner salads that proves that necessity really is the mother of invention. I am at the tail end of my week of groceries and doing my usual clear out before the fridge gets wiped down and a new batch of ingredients comes in. Faced with half a bag of Brussels spouts, a third of a block of tofu, a few inches of daikon, a couple of radishes, and more buttermilk than I need for the buttermilk pancakes that I plan to make sometime over the next few days, I started to think of how best I could use them together in a dinner salad.

This really works (contrasting textures, temperatures and shapes) and -- just for the record -- the crispy spiced chickpeas are a bonus. Were I you, I would make a double batch because they are a fabulous snack with a glass of wine as well as a healthy way to add crunch and protein to salads.

7 Brussels sprouts, all trimmed, 3 halved, the others shredded

1/2 cup finely sliced radicchio

Equivalent of 1/2 cup of daikon, peeled and cut into French fry shapes

1/2 can garbanzo beans, dried well and as many outer skins as possible rubbed off

1/4 of a small white onion, peeled and cut into half moons

1/3 block of firm tofu, wrapped in several layers of paper towels and weighted down earlier in the day so as to release as much liquid as possible, then cut into blocks.

1 egg, hardboiled in boiling water for 6 minutes (2 minutes more if you are not a fan of the runny egg and prefer a more solid yolk though the Caesar-like dressing that I am aiming for will not form)

1 Tbsp buttermilk (or sour cream)

2 tsps white wine or cider vinegar

2-3 anchovies

1/4 cup grated Parmesan

2 Tbsps olive oil

2 tsps cornstarch

1/2 a lemon

Old Bay seasoning

Salt to taste

Line a baking tray with foil. Preheat oven to 425.

Toss the halved Brussels sprouts in the oil left behind and transfer to the baking tray. Salt lightly.

Add one teaspoon of the oil to the bowl and toss the daikon fries in it. Transfer to the baking tray and salt lightly. I realize that this is a fiddly way of doing these but it kept the oil to the very minimum that I could use.

Add one teaspoon of the oil to the bowl and toss the tofu in the oil. Mix the cornstarch and half the Parmesan together on a plate and roll the tofu pieces in this mixture on all sides, shaking off any excess oil before you do, and then transfer to the baking tray.

Place the tray in the oven and bake for twenty minutes, turning everything over so that all surfaces get the chance to crisp up.

While the various ingredients are cooking, boil the egg. Mix the shredded raw Brussels sprouts and the radicchio together in your serving dish. Make the dressing by mixing the buttermilk, vinegar, anchovies, hot sauce and remaining oil together in a small bowl. Add a dash of Old Bay.

Remove the roasted ingredients from the oven and place on top of the shredded Brussels sprout salad along with half a recipe's worth of crispy spiced chickpeas. Drizzle with the dressing and top with the halved egg and the remaining Parmesan.

This won't look like much but toss everything together and watch the egg yolk, buttermilk dressing and Parmesan coalesce into a Caesar-like dressing and get to it! This is a good dinner salad.


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