My friend Joanna and I have a lot in common. So much in common, it’s startling. We’re always running into each other at events, reading the same books, eating at the same restaurants. I’m confident that we were meant to be friends, and serendipity would have brought us together under any circumstances. And thank goodness for that, because she’s kind, charming, upbeat and infinitely gracious – never arriving empty handed. One of our first dinners together, she brought a life-altering raspberry dream cake, and a small bundle of dried lavender I still keep on my mantle.
Although we both love to meet for cocktails in public, we’ve hosted plenty of private get-togethers at our respective apartments (that, unsurprisingly, are two blocks away from each other). We’ll hang out just the two of us on a Tuesday, or plan more elaborate Oscar’s parties or girls nights. No matter what, there’s food involved. Usually something plant-based, with a side of cheese and olives, and a bottle of wine.
Joanna’s family has deep roots in Greece, and she’ll often tell stories of her mother’s cooking. A striking childhood memory involves quarts of homemade Greek yogurt fermenting overnight in her mother’s bedroom, covered in wool blankets. She embodies this passion for modern home cooking – steeped in tradition, with an elegant simplicity.
This salad is a riff on one she always orders at Jolly Pumpkin in Ann Arbor. It involves a confetti of shaved root vegetables, piled upon lemony warm quinoa, topped with crumbly cheese and slivered almonds. It’s robust and bright, providing just the right amount of heft and crunch to be considered a full meal. She made it for me last week after a long work day, and I’ve made it twice (!) since then.
Joanna’s Shaved Vegetable Salad
1 cup cooked quinoa
1 golden beet, thinly sliced (I use a mandolin)
1/2 small fennel bulb, thinly sliced
1 bunch radishes, thinly sliced
2 big carrots, thinly sliced (I used a vegetable peeler)
2 cups arugula
1/3 cup salted Marcona almonds, roughly chopped
1/3 cup sheep’s milk feta, crumbled
Herbs of your choosing (Dill, parsley, mint, chives, etc.)
For the dressing:
1 shallot, finely minced
1 teaspoon lemon zest
3 tablespoons lemon juice
Pinch of sugar
1/4 cup grassy olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1. Make the dressing by placing the minced shallot in a small bowl along with the zest and lemon juice. Add a pinch of sugar and kosher salt and let sit for 10 minutes to lightly pickle the shallot. Whisk in olive oil and season with pepper to taste.
2. Warm the quinoa, if it’s not freshly cooked. I place it in a medium saucepan over medium heat with a splash of water and let it steam, because I don’t have a microwave! Pour half the vinaigrette into the pot and toss to dress.
3. Place all the sliced vegetables and arugula in a small bowl and drizzle over the remaining vinaigrette, tossing to dress. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
4. Plate the salad: scoop heaps of quinoa onto a large plate. Pile vegetable salad on top. Scatter with herbs, almonds and crumbled feta. Drizzle with olive oil and serve with lemon wedges for squeezing.