I’m sitting here, thinking about the fact that my cookbook manuscript will be due around my birthday this summer, not feeling at all frenetic, surprisingly. And, I’m thinking about the amount of food I’ll be eating this year, worried I may need an extra stomach, or perhaps I should adopt a hungry rugby team to help out with the eating. 2015 marks a few important birthdays in my family, as well as anniversaries I’d rather not remember. It also happens to be The Year of the Chopped Salad, according to ancient Greek lore.
I definitely just made that up. But hey, if those ridiculous national food holidays can exist, I can create The Year of the Chopped Salad. What happens in The Year of the Chopped Salad? Well, good fortune is instilled in those who partake in the eating of the salad.
With each ingredient deeply meaningful, rich with symbolism, a chopped salad is certainly something you should be eating this January to experience all of the following benefits this coming year. (This is all fake, but a little whimsy never hurt anyone, okay?)
New Year’s Lucky Chopped Salad Components
Arugula: Peppery, turgent, and green, which obviously means you’re going to win the lottery in May 2015… or something.
Sunflower seeds: Coins –– again with the money theme.
Butternut squash: Here to bring you a sweet and beta-carotene-rich new year.
Green beans: Chopped into bite-sized pieces, warning you to not take on more than you can chew.
Pears: A homonym (pair), for happy friendships and partnerships. (Mmm, grammatically correct salad.)
Feta: For a year that’s ‘betta’ than the last. *Groans*
Lemon Thyme Dressing: I got nothing.
If you didn’t like my faux-lucky New Year’s food list, there are true-lucky New Year’s foods that diners worldwide enjoy for a prosperous new year, all loaded with symbolic meaning.
Some ‘real’ ones (i.e. that I didn’t just make up for the sake of a post) are listed below, all from different corners of the globe.
Lucky New Year’s Foods
Black-eyed peas (the bean, not the band): Representing humility and therefore, welcoming good fortune. Also, coins (ka-ching!).
Greens: Representing money (ka-ching!).
Grains & long noodles: Representing longevity and well-being. Honestly, I would eat noodles and brown rice every single day if I didn’t have to cook non-pasta and -brown rice recipes to make a living –– hoping this fact brings me a long life.
Grapes: Which can spookily predict a good or bad month, depending on the sweetness of diminutive globular fruit. Ain’t no grape gonna tell me what to do though!
Ring-shaped cakes & confections: Representing ‘ringing in the new year’ and ‘coming full circle.’ Although, I suspect it’s just an excuse to eat sweets –– however, the everyday seems like a good enough reason, in my opinion.
Lentils: Representing wealth (ka-ching!).
Regardless of whether you eat this salad with the hopes that this year will be better than the last, it will still bring much merriment to your taste buds. The Year of the Chopped Salad is going to be a good one. I can feel it.
Winter Green Chopped Salad with Pears and Feta Recipe
A hearty winter salad recipe recipe with roasted butternut squash, pears, green beans, arugula, and feta, all tied together with a lemon-thyme dressing.
Serves 4 as a main, 6 as a side
1 small butternut squash (2 lbs), peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 ripe pear (I used bosc), cored and thinly sliced into strips
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 lb green beans, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
5 oz/142 g (6 to 8 cups) arugula
1 cup cubed sheep’s or goat’s milk feta cheese
1/4 cup hulled sunflower seeds
2 tablespoons roasted hazelnut oil or extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
1 teaspoon whole dried thyme or chopped fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- For the salad, preheat oven to 400ºF. On a large rimmed baking sheet, toss squash and pear with oil and salt. Roast for 25 minutes. Add green beans, stir to incorporate, and roast for an additional 10 minutes. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before adding roasted vegetables to a large salad bowl along with arugula, feta, and seeds.
- For the dressing, in a small jar to shake, or bowl to whisk, combine all dressing ingredients.
- To assemble, add dressing to prepared salad and toss until fully combined. Serve immediately.