Apple Parsnip Salad with Maple Blackberry Thyme Dressing

As the summer winds down, I look forward to my favourite season, autumn. But before the chunky sweaters, the simmering soups, the hours of baking, I ease my way into the bold flavours of autumn and the subsequent winter, by adding bursts of flavours that hint at those chilly days to come.

With an idea that my mum called “surprise bites,” where I’d add a few ingredients to a salad that looked similar in appearance either by design (julienne or cubed similarily) but had different flavours or textures, was the thought process behind this salad. The “surprise bites” would usually “hide” amidst a dressing that may mask their natural colour or be creamy and give all of the ingredients a uniform look. Today, I got some luscious late season blackberries that were already at the edge of their ripeness so I wanted to bring them home and enjoy them right away. I thought I’d make a dressing with them. To augment that sweet/sour interplay, I combined them with maple syrup and sour cream. Finally, to add a savoury note to distance itself from being a dessert sauce, I added the woodsy, autumn-y (it’s a word, or a pseudo-word, or colloquialism, or something…) flavour of fresh thyme leaves and hemp seed oil, along with black pepper. When tossed with soft, buttery leaf lettuce and the textural variances of parsnip and apple, the salad had plenty of complimentary flavours. The surprise textures and flavours of parsnip and apple liven up the tastebuds and remind you it’s okay to play with your food even if you’re an adult. Just be careful if you get extra childish and eat with your fingers, the blackberry essence makes a delightfully purpley mess of your fingers

Or so I hear….. 😉

Apple Parsnip Salad with Maple Blackberry Thyme Dressing

For the Maple Blackberry Thyme Dressing:

1 cup fresh blackberries

1/4 cup maple syrup

1/4 cup sour cream

2 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves

2 Tbsp cold pressed hemp seed oil

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

   Place all of the ingredients in a blender or food processor and purée until smooth. Set aside.

For the salad:

4 cups green leaf lettuce (or any soft, mild lettuce like butter/Bibb/Boston lettuce)

1 apple, julienne into 1/2 cm (1/4″) thick strips

1 medium parsnip, peeled and julienne into 1/2 cm (1/4″) thick strips

Reserved Maple Blackberry Thyme Dressing

   In a large bowl, add the dressing, lettuce, apple and parsnip. Toss lightly with your fingers and divide over 2-4 plates depending if it’s a starter or meal sized portion. Serves 2-4.

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