The easy vinaigrette is key to memorable flavor in this endlessly adaptable, jewel-toned salad. A favorite protein makes it a complete meal.
Think of all the people you see regularly, but only in passing. People with whom you may exchange friendly banter but never have the time to really know. Maybe it’s your faithful mail carrier who gives your tail-wagging dog a bone or the cashier who rings up your groceries and chats congenially while you wait. Perhaps it’s the person who knows your morning latte order by heart. These people so often have fascinating life stories that beg to be told.
Such was the case with Sarah Lanphier. I’d often swim laps next to Sarah during my twice-a-week pool workouts. We’d wave hello from neighboring lanes and exchange a few words in the locker room, but never really knew each other. After several years of pleasantries, one random comment led to another and, ultimately, revealed a mutual interest in food. A friendship was born.
Sarah grew up in York, Pennsylvania and attended Elizabethtown College. While at school, she started a triathlon club for which she and her team made an annual trip to collegiate nationals. To get there, they needed money.
Seeking a fundraiser that suited their active endeavor, Sarah thought of the much-loved granola recipe she gifted to friends and family each Christmas. Hoping for the best, Sarah and her team baked 100 pounds of peanut butter granola in a nearby fire hall kitchen.
All worries that 100 pounds of oats, nuts, and seeds would go to waste were quickly banished when every last ounce of that first batch sold in just one day. Sarah’s healthy granola recipe literally fueled the team’s trips to Alabama, Arizona and Texas to compete in a sport they loved.
Because Sarah was a business major, she used the concept of a granola company when tasked with class projects such as creating feasibility studies and in-depth business and marketing plans. She also worked in the school bakery, where she gained commercial baking experience. As her 2009 graduation approached, Sarah partnered with her mother, Gayle, a registered dietician, to create a unique line of granolas and sell them to the masses through their newly incorporated company, Nuts About Granola.
Who would have thought that a club triathlon team would chart the course to a sustainable local business? Indeed, there is truth to the notion that hard work and following one’s passions can be the key to future success.
Sarah’s most popular granola variety is a chocolate peanut butter concoction, but the granola for which she’s most famous is a peanut butter and jelly combo that was featured as the “snack of the day” on The Rachael Ray Show. Sarah uses simple, wholesome ingredients to produce these decadent-sounding snacks and more recently created a naturally sweetened Forager line that replaces the standard grains with nuts and seeds.
Nuts and seeds used to get a bad rap for being fattening, but now we know that these fats are the heart-healthy kind. Plus, these little nuggets are loaded with filling fiber and a long list of minerals. I love their satisfying crunch and liberally sprinkle them on a variety of dishes, from oatmeal to salads to stir-fries.
In the following autumn-inspired salad, I recently used Sarah’s grainless granola in place my typical mix of pecans, sunflower and pumpkin seeds. Any of the crunchy options listed below are perfectly suited to the accompanying ingredients and will make this salad as hearty as it is healthy. The mildly tangy vinaigrette packs a flavorful punch and will, hopefully, become a top pick for its versatility and ease.
Sarah has kindly offered readers a chance to try her famous granola. Three lucky readers will be randomly selected to receive three varieties (winners’ choice) of Nuts About Granola. Interested readers may enter via a comment under this recipe post or at www.lancasteronline.com before Saturday, November 22, 2014 at noon EST. To receive their prize, winners must forward me their selection and complete mailing address within 48 hours of notification. Good luck!
Yield: 6 servings
- 4-5 cups chopped root vegetables (about 2 pounds; see notes for choices)
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 (5-ounce) bag baby arugula (may substituted spinach or mix of favorite greens)
- 1/2 cup chopped toasted walnuts, pecans and/or almonds
- 1/4 cup sunflower and/or pumpkin seeds (I like salted; unsalted is fine, too)
- Optional add-ins: 1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese or feta; 1 pear or apple, cored and diced; 1/4 cup dried cranberries; 4 pieces of bacon, cooked and crumbled
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar (Bragg’s brand is a flavorful option)
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons honey (see notes)
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 1 garlic clove, minced (optional)
For the vinaigrette: Combine all of the ingredients in a glass jar. Screw the lid on tightly and shake until the ingredients are blended. (Optionally, you may whisk together in a bowl, but the vigorous shaking really helps to emulsify the dressing.) Store the leftovers in the fridge–where they will keep for a several weeks–and shake well before serving each time. Yield: slightly over 3/4 cup
For the salad: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Combine the vegetables in a large bowl. Toss with the oil, sprinkle with the salt and pepper, and then toss again to coat evenly.
Scatter the vegetables on a large, oiled, rimmed baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes. (I like to quickly turn the cut sides face down for better browning.) With a metal spatula, turn the vegetables over and roast another 5 to 10 minutes, or until tender and beginning to brown. (You may use the vegetables immediately or allow them to sit at room temperature for up to two hours. Optionally, cool the veggies and refrigerate in an airtight container, bringing to room temperature prior to serving.)
In a salad bowl, combine the arugula, roasted vegetables, nuts, seeds, and any optional ingredients. Drizzle with enough of the Apple Cider Vinaigrette to lightly coat the salad when tossed.
- Use your choice of root vegetables; a variety is nice. Good options include onions, carrots, parsnips, sweet potatoes, and golden beets. If using red beets, roast separately if you wish to avoid color bleeding onto other vegetables. Peel and chop the vegetables into 1/2-inch pieces. Sweet potatoes need not be peeled unless preferred. Carrots should be chopped smaller (roughly 1/3-inch pieces) as they tend to take slightly longer to cook.
- For a vinaigrette with more tang, you may decrease the amount of honey by 1/2 – 1 tablespoon.
I fiddled and fiddled with the vinaigrette ingredients until I matched the cider vinegar’s appealing zing with an underlying smoothness. It has since become a convenient staple in our refrigerator. Mix this simple dressing in advance for use in a variety of harvest-type salads. Apples, dried cranberries, winter squash, walnuts, and sharp cheeses are all perfect matches for this beautifully balanced vinaigrette.
Tip: when shopping for apple cider vinegar, select a variety that is labeled as “With the Mother” and has a bit of sediment floating around the bottom of the bottle. (I like Bragg’s brand.) This sediment includes raw enzymes and gut-friendly bacteria that are thought to promote healing and offer a variety of other health benefits.