Don’t forget to eat your vegetables

Take a break from heavy stews and rich soups with winter salads that are made for this season.

Fennel, kohlrabi and radish salad (photo credit: Courtesy)
Fennel, kohlrabi and radish salad
(photo credit: Courtesy)
As soon as the temperatures drop, a food editor’s first instinct is to publish articles about stews and soups. Even more so when an unexpected snowstorm hits the country. But as much as those comforting foods are welcome in the winter, too many meals consisting only of them may result in a few unwelcome extra centimeters around the waist once spring shows its face.
So how about some delicious winter salads that make use of our wonderful seasonal vegetables? We asked Ronen Skinzes, the talented chef of Tel Aviv’s beach hot spot Manta Ray, to serve up a few of his well-known salads from the restaurant’s winter menu, and he obliged and gave us recipes for salads that can be served as a light meal or as side dishes and also upgrade any family dinner.
One of Manta Ray’s winter menu favorites, this salad incorporates two of the winter’s best produce – fennel and red grapefruit, both of which are healthful and bursting with flavor.
✔ 5 fennel bulbs
✔ 2 red grapefruits
✔ 1⁄3 cup parsley, chopped
✔ 5 thin slices green hot chili
✔ 1 tsp. coarse salt
✔ 3 Tbsp. lemon juice
✔ 1⁄3 cup olive oil
✔ ½ tsp. sugar
✔ Pinch pepper
✔ Pinch nigella, slightly roasted on dry skillet
Slice the fennel into thin strips, and place in a bowl. Sprinkle a little coarse salt and lemon juice on the fennel and leave to marinate for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, peel the grapefruit and remove the membranes.
In the bowl with the fennel, add pepper, sliced chili, olive oil and sugar. Season with salt to taste and toss well.
Add the grapefruit and the chopped parsley and toss lightly. Serve garnished with the toasted nigella.
This salad is the perfect accompaniment to baked fish and is a great substitute for potatoes or other carbohyrate-rich side dishes. Add a glass of white wine, and you have a very sophisticated, delicious and satisfying meal.
For the vinaigrette
✔ 1 Tbsp. smooth Dijon mustard
✔ 1 tsp. honey
✔ 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
✔ ½ tsp. minced garlic
✔ 200 ml. olive oil
✔ 200 ml. corn oil
✔ 100 ml. water
✔ Salt
For the salad
✔ 8 endives
✔ 15 cherry tomatoes
✔ 4 red peppers (use the long ones called Shushka)
✔ 10 pitted Thassos olives
✔ 1 Tbsp. chopped chives
✔ 100 gr. Halloumi cheese
✔ 1⁄3 cup olive oil
✔ 2 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
To prepare the vinaigrette: Place all the ingredients, except oils and water, in a tall container and blend using a hand-held blender. Gradually add the oils and water and continue mixing until smooth.
Keep in a closed container up to 4 days refrigerated.
To prepare the salad:
Char the peppers over an open flame (your gas stove will do the job). When charred on all sides, place the peppers in a plastic bag and close. Leave for 15 minutes, remove from bag and peel the peppers. Drizzle a little olive oil and set aside.
Put oven on grill, place tomatoes in a small baking dish with a little olive oil and grill for 5 minutes until tomatoes soften and are slightly bursting. Remove from oven and let cool to room temperature.
Separate the endive leaves and place in a bowl. Add the Parmesan cheese and 1⁄3 cup of the prepared vinaigrette and toss.
Divide among serving plates, top with olives, cherry tomatoes and sliced roasted peppers and serve.
The different kinds of radish, kohlrabi and fennel are at their best now – they are sweet and crunchy from the abundance of rain and are a great salad base. At Manta Ray, this salad is served with fried red mullet.
✔ 4 fennel bulbs
✔ 2 kohlrabis
✔ 2 radishes
✔ 10 small radishes
✔ 2 watermelon radishes
✔ 1 Tbsp. parsley, chopped
✔ 1 Tbsp. cilantro, chopped
✔ 1⁄3 cup olive oil
✔ 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
✔ 1 tsp. silan
✔ Salt and pepper
Peel kohlrabi and cut into eight parts. Cut the fennel into eight parts as well; slice the radish into six and the small radishes into quarters. Peel the watermelon radishes and cut into six as well.
In a small bowl, whisk the dressing using the lemon juice, olive oil and silan.
Place all the cut vegetables in a large bowl, pour dressing on top, season with salt and pepper and mix until all the vegetables are coated. Sprinkle parsley and cilantro on top, toss and serve.
During the winter months, cauliflower is white and clear of black patches and pests, says chef Ronen Skinzes. At Manta Ray it is served as part of the collection of the hors d’oeuvres spread. The anchovy adds a little oomph to the otherwise bland cauliflower.
For the aioli
✔ 4 egg yolks
✔ ½ tsp. mustard
✔ 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
✔ ¼ tsp. sugar
✔ 80 ml. corn oil
✔ 1 Tbsp. anchovy fillets, chopped
✔ Black pepper and salt
For the salad
✔ 1 large cauliflower
✔ 1 medium red onion
✔ ¼ cup mint leaves, chopped
✔ 1⁄3 cup green onion, sliced, green part only
✔ 1⁄3 cup olive oil
✔ Salt and pepper
To prepare the aioli:
Whisk egg yolks with mustard, lemon juice, sugar and salt and pepper. Drizzle the oil into the mixture while still whisking until the aioli comes together. Add the anchovy and mix.
To prepare the salad: Heat the oven to 180°. Separate the cauliflower into florets.
In a bowl, toss the cauliflower with oil and season with salt and pepper. Arrange the cauliflower in a baking dish and bake for 15 to 20 minutes until golden. Remove from the oven and let cool.
Meanwhile, halve the onion and slice into ½-cm. semi-rings.
When the cauliflower is cooled to room temperature, toss with 4 tsp. of the aioli.
Add onions, parsley and mint. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.
Chef Skinzes has been researching the flavors of the Vietnamese cuisine in the past year, with the help of a team of Vietnamese cooks who work with him in Manta Ray’s kitchen. This salad is one of the results of the creative cooperation.
For the vinaigrette
✔ 3 Tbsp. soy sauce
✔ 3 Tbsp. mirin vinegar
✔ 3 Tbsp. lemon juice
✔ 1 Tbsp. Thai chili sauce
✔ 1 tsp. honey or silan
✔ 1⁄3 tsp. sesame oil
✔ 150 ml. corn oil
✔ Black pepper
For the crepe
✔ 60 gr. flour
✔ 25 gr. rice flour
✔ ¼ tsp. baking powder
✔ 110 ml. coconut milk
✔ 75 ml. water
✔ Pinch salt and sugar
For the salad
✔ 300 gr. baby pak choi leaves
✔ 1 cup green herbs, leaves only – parsley, cilantro, mint
✔ 1⁄3 cup dehydrated wakame seaweed
✔ 10 cherry tomatoes
✔ 1 avocado
✔ 2 tsp. candied ginger, chopped
✔ 250 gr. snow peas
Place all the ingredients except oil in a tall container and mix using a hand blender.
Continue to work and start adding the oil gradually until smooth.
Mix all the dry ingredients. Mix all the wet ingredients. Then add the wet ingredients into the bowl with the dry ingredients and whisk together. Set aside for 20 minutes.
Prepare thin crepes, frying small amounts of the batter on a lightly greased skillet, about 1 minute on each side.
Soak the wakame seaweed in water for 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.
Place snow peas in a pot with a liter of boiling salted water. Remove from boiling water after 2 minutes and place in ice water to stop the cooking. Drain and set aside.
Remove the avocado flesh and cube it.
Halve the cherry tomatoes.
In a large salad bowl, mix all the ingredients except the ginger, and toss with the vinaigrette.
To serve: Place 1 crepe on each plate, heap the salad on top and garnish with candied ginger.
A salad doesn’t have to be cold. On a cold evening, this warm combination of boiled vegetables will be very welcome.
✔ 2 broccoli heads
✔ 250 gr. snow peas
✔ 5 large chard leaves
✔ 4 artichokes
✔ 1 Tbsp. coarse salt
✔ 2 Tbsp. slivered almonds
✔ 2 thin slices of green chili
✔ ¼ cup olive oil
✔ Black pepper
✔ 1 tsp. minced garlic
✔ ¼ tsp. sugar
✔ 3 Tbsp. soy sauce
✔ ¼ tsp. sesame oil
✔ 1 tbsp. lemon juice
Clean artichokes, leaving only the hearts.
Place in a pot and cover with water. Add juice of ½ lemon and a little salt, bring to a boil, lower heat and cook for 10 minutes.
Drain and let cool to room temperature.
When artichokes are cooled, cut each heart into six pieces.
Separate the broccoli into florets and wash the snow peas. Wash the chard and cut into large pieces.
Boil a pot with 1 liter water and 1 Tbsp.
salt. Have ready a bowl with ice water.
Place each vegetable separately in the boiling water for 2 minutes, remove and place in the ice water.
Heat a large deep skillet with corn oil and sauté the cooked artichokes and the chili about 1 minute. Add the drained broccoli and toss for 3 minutes. Add the snow peas and the chard.
Mix together the soy sauce, sugar, garlic and 1⁄3 cup water, add to the skillet and cook, stirring for 5 minutes. Add the lemon, sesame oil and a little black pepper, stir and remove from the heat. Meanwhile, toast the almonds on a dry nonstick skillet until golden.
Place the vegetables on serving plates and garnish with toasted almonds. 
Photos and recipes courtesy of Manta Ray.
Located on the beach, Manta Ray is one of Tel Aviv’s best beach restaurants. The food served can be described as creative Middle Eastern, made from fresh local seasonal ingredients cooked in a modern and innovative way. Year round, it is an ideal spot for a late breakfast, lunch or a romantic dinner. Tel: (03) 517-4773.
Not kosher.