Lindsay Maitland Hunt

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Winterfresh Salad with Roasted Sunchokes
 
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Circa-midwinter, after all the holiday cheer, I usually want to hunker down with chunk of bread pudding, a steaming bowl of stew, and as many simple cakes as my oven will fit. But, this January, I’ve been doing an elimination diet to diagnose any hidden food allergies, which has stolen my trusty sidekicks away. This means no cheese, no eggs, no sugar, no prosciutto, no lemons.

So what’s a comfort-food-loving girl to do? It turns out that eating healthily in the winter doesn’t just have to be a bowl of quinoa topped with beans and half an avocado (though, that’ll do on most days). Sometimes, it’s nice to forget winter entirely and make something light, crisp, refreshing—and dare I say it?—summery.

Beneath the vibrant hues of carrot, radish, and snap pea in this recipe there is one tuberous winter star: nutty, roasted sunchokes. Alongside the raw vegetables they offer a grounding, earthy balance. The key to great sunchokes is a lot of oil—more than you might be comfortable with at first, but please withhold judgment until you try one—and letting them become so meltingly tender, they flatten with the gentlest squeeze.

I’m not going to pretend this is an “easy, fast meal!” because it will take some time and knife skills or a mandoline. Don’t rush it. Lean into the faux-July vibe with a beachy soundtrack and let the chopping begin. I recommend prepping the sunchokes first and letting them do their thing in the oven while you slice the remaining vegetables.

And, if you’ve never tried a watermelon radish before, it’s time. Aren’t they stunners? (See below.) It’s a sweeter, milder version of the peppery, small variety you normally see in the market. If you can’t find the watermelon kind, any other radish type will do.

Once the salad's ready, heap some into your favorite deep bowl, perch yourself window-adjacent, and peer out at a (hopefully) bluebird sky. For just a second, you might forget it’s actually frigid beyond the pane. I know I did.

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Winterfresh Salad with Roasted Sunchokes By Lindsay Hunt

Serves 4 to 6

1 pound sunchokes (also called Jerusalem artichokes), well scrubbed and mostly peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces ¼ cup olive oil, plus additional to taste Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 1 small head napa cabbage, thinly sliced 2 carrots, thinly sliced lengthwise with a vegetable peeler 1 watermelon radish, very thinly sliced 2 cups snap peas, sliced White balsamic or white wine vinegar, to taste

Heat the oven to 400º F. Toss the sunchokes with ¼ of the olive oil, ¾ teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper. Roast, tossing occasionally, until very tender, 25 to 30 minutes.

Meanwhile prep the vegetables as listed in the ingredients list. Toss them in a large bowl with olive oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper to taste. Use clean hands to massage the vegetables, particularly the cabbage, so they tenderize.

When the sunchokes are roasted, let cool slightly, then use a slotted spoon to transfer to the salad bowl. Toss together and serve.

 
Spiced Carrot Coconut Soup
 
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In December, when I am loading up on cookies and single-handedly demolishing the cheese plate at holiday parties, I find my usual balance of healthy meals and sweets tipping towards sugar overload.

Not to mention, the extra sugar makes me susceptible to the first virus that sweeps through the city. So, why wait for January's resolutions? You can cook a healthy and delicious recipe with immunity-boosting qualities tonight. 

By the way, there's a reason eating a healthy dinner can be a challenge, particularly at this busy time of year. I learned recently that making decisions actually takes more effort as the day progresses, because your brain has used most of its store of glucose. Turns out it's actually harder to choose to make salad instead of ordering in pizza. Keeping a batch of healthy soup on standby takes some work out of the equation.

But what does "healthy" mean? Here, it includes a hearty dose of anti-inflammatory turmeric, stomach-soothing fresh ginger, and calcium-packed carrots. (Turmeric is actually my go-to healing spice now, after a 101 Cookbooks post got me hooked on it.)

While this soup can definitely be vegetarian (just swap the chicken stock for veggie or water), homemade chicken broth has minerals like calcium and magnesium, among other great benefits, so I use it in my version.

Two tips for success: if you have a food processor and like the slicing blade, now is a good time to use it for quick prep. And, don't do like I did and use the coconut milk before mixing. Get a little workout by shaking the can well before opening.

As for the first cold of the season? It's banished. I'm thanking this soup.

Spiced Coconut Carrot Soup by Lindsay Hunt

Ingredients: ¼ cup canola oil 1 bunch scallions, green and white parts only, sliced ¼ to ⅓ cup chopped fresh ginger (use less if you don’t like a lot of heat) 1 teaspoon ground turmeric 1 teaspoon ground coriander 1 teaspoon ground cumin Kosher salt Freshly ground black pepper 1 ½ pounds carrots (about 8 large), peeled and thinly sliced 4 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade, or vegetable stock ½ cup coconut milk Lemon wedges, for serving Toasted pumpkin seeds, for serving Good olive oil, for serving

Equipment: A blender

1. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the scallions, ginger, turmeric, coriander, cumin, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the scallions are very soft, about 10 minutes.

2. Add the carrots and stir to combine. Cook, stirring occasionally, until barely tender, about 10 minutes.

3. Add the stock and coconut milk and bring to a boil. Cook until the carrots are very tender, about 10 minutes.

4. Puree in batches in a blender until very smooth. Serve garnished with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, pumpkin seeds, a drizzle of your favorite olive oil, and extra salt and pepper.

Soup will keep for up to 3 days in an airtight container in the refrigerator.