Cold comfort: Mark Hix's makes the most of root vegetables with his seasonal salads

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Indy Lifestyle Online

Winter doesn't have to be about exclusively eating warming stews, braises and heavy stuff. Salads with seasonal wintry ingredients can be enjoyed equally as much as lighter, summery salads. And although I admit that it sounds unlikely, roots and tubers, either raw or slightly cooked, make delicious salads, especially with a few winter leaves thrown in.

If you think about it, something like coleslaw, which is traditionally served in bars and restaurants up and down the country in summer, is actually made from wintry salad ingredients.

Sprouting broccoli and Treviso salad with Gorgonzola

Serves 4

I'm never quite sure when sprouting broccoli is going to show up – it's one of those vegetables that tends to appear rather erratically in the shops; it depends on the expertise and dedication of the grower.

8-10 heads of sprouting broccoli
1-2 heads of Treviso or Trevisiano, trimmed and washed
2tbsp capers, washed
120g Gorgonzola
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the dressing

1tbsp chardonnay vinegar or another good-quality white-wine vinegar
1tsp Dijon mustard
4tbsp olive oil

Cook the sprouting broccoli in boiling salted water for 3-4 minutes or until just cooked, then run under the cold tap briefly to cool down. Cut the heads off to about 4cm and strip off any leaves and put to one side. Thinly shred the stalks on the angle and put them in a bowl with the leaves and heads.

Make the dressing by whisking all of the ingredients together and seasoning. Trim down or halve any large Treviso leaves and toss in with the broccoli, dressing and capers; season. Arrange on serving plates, then break the Gorgonzola into nuggets and scatter on top.

Roasted onions with cured beef and pickled walnuts

Serves 4

At the restaurants we use air-dried beef from Trealy Farm in Monmouthshire ( Trealy produces cured meats as good as many of the great European charcuterie producers, and of course the produce fits perfectly into our British menus. If you are struggling to find Trealy cured beef then Bresaola will do, or you could use another cured meat.

4 medium onions
12 or so slices of cured beef
6-8 pickled walnuts
2tbsp olive oil
1tbsp cabernet sauvignon vinegar or a good red-wine vinegar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 5. Wrap the onions in foil and bake in the oven for about 45 minutes until they are soft.

Remove from the oven, leave to cool for a while then remove the skin, quarter them and separate the layers and place in a bowl. Season and add enough olive oil and vinegar to dress.

To serve, arrange the onions on plates and drizzle over any dressing left in the bowl.

Arrange the cured beef on top, then slice or quarter the pickled walnuts depending on size and scatter on top.

Root vegetable and winter savoury salad

Serves 4

A plate of simply cooked root vegetables can make a delicious starter or part of a selection in a buffet. You can vary the vegetables and use celeriac, Jerusalem artichokes, kohlrabi, etc.

2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into batons 4cm by cm
1 small half-head of swede, peeled and cut into batons 4cm x cm
1 parsnip, peeled and cut into batons 4cm x cm
1 small or half-head of celeriac, peeled and cut into batons 4cm x cm
ltr or enough vegetable stock to just cover the vegetables
100ml olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2tsp winter savoury or thyme
1tbsp cider vinegar
1tsp Dijon mustard
A handful of dandelion leaves or small tasty salad leaves, washed and dried

Put the carrots and swede in a pan with the olive oil and vegetable stock, season, bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes, add the parsnip and celeriac and continue simmering for another 3-4 minutes, then remove from the heat, add the savoury and leave to cool in the liquid.

While the vegetables are cooling, skim off the olive oil into a bowl and whisk in the mustard and cider vinegar and season.

To serve, toss the vegetables and dandelion in the dressing and arrange on serving plates.

Shaved Jerusalem artichokes and celeriac with pomegranate

Serves 4

Jerusalem artichokes are becoming more and more popular and people don't seem to be too hung up on their windy after-effects.

Jerusalem artichokes are a delicious vegetable and have a unique flavour, but most people don't realise that you can actually eat them raw.

2-4 Jerusalem artichokes, peeled
1 small or half-head of celeriac, peeled
1 pomegranate, halved, seeds scooped out and the juice reserved
1-2tbsp pomegranate molasses (optional)

For the dressing

The juice from the pomegranate
4tbsp walnut or hazelnut oil
1tbsp cider or white wine vinegar

On a mandolin, shave the Jerusalem artichokes as thinly as possible and place in a bowl of ice-cold water. Quarter the celeriac and slice thinly like the artichokes and add to the bowl of artichokes. Leave them in the cold water for 30 minutes then drain and dry them in a salad spinner.

Depending on how much comes out of the pomegranate, you will need about 2tbsp of the juice whisked with the walnut oil and vinegar and seasoned. Toss the dressing in with the Jerusalem artichokes, celeriac and pomegranate seeds, season and arrange on serving plates; drizzle with a little pomegranate molasses.