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New Year’s

Fresh produce, Healthy, New Year's, Salads, Vegetables

3 yummy choices for salad-a-day resolutions

My friend Elena once set a clear and simple personal goal: eat a salad everyday. The resolution was straightforward and easy to measure, exactly as a doable goal should be. Elena’s idea was that by committing to a daily dose of green, she was assured of a healthy injection — no matter what the rest of the day brought.

I love salads – and I love this idea. It checks so many boxes. Salads are affordable and generally good for you. You can change them up daily, creating something substantial and rich in protein, or something light and refreshing. They’re seasonal, portable and naturally stress-reducing. All that crunching takes your mind off life’s realities.

This week, I’ve got three comforting and filling salads that will start your new year off right. Enjoy.

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Corn, Crab, New Year's, Soups

Succulent and creamy Emeril’s corn and crab bisque just right for New Year’s Eve

There are two kinds of New Year’s Eve participants: those who go out, and those who stay home.

I’m generally planted in the latter camp….have been for years….and if you’re like me, there’s a good chance you’re casting about for something special to serve for dinner, something that screams romance, friendship, family or just final decadence before resolutions come home to roost.

I’m here to recommend one of my all time favorite soups, Emeril’s corn and crab bisque. Done right, with its perfect balance of dairy and stock, its tender corn and succulent jumbo lump crabmeat, this soup delivers elegance in a way that others don’t. I’ve served it as a main course and as a starter, and each time I’ve placed it on the table, it’s earned rave reviews.

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Appetizers, Hors d'oeuvres, Local, Louisiana, New Year's, Southern

Marinated seafood: West Indies salad and pickled shrimp perfect for parties

The best party dishes are ones that fit two criteria: you can make them ahead and serve them at room temperature. And marinated seafood, like classic West Indies salad and southern pickled shrimp, fits them both. Think of them as a sort of Gulf Coast ceviche, even though you’re beginning with cooked seafood.

The Mobile, Alabama favorite, West Indies Salad, is made with crabmeat, minced onions and an oil and vinegar solution, and Charleston-born pickled shrimp, involves fresh boiled shrimp riding it out in a tangy marinade for a couple of days before serving. They’re delicious crowd pleasers that offer a refreshing counterpoint to party buffets where the rest of the line-up can be heavy.

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New Year's, Southern, Vegetables

Cabbage or greens for NYD? Both.

The South agrees that black-eyed peas are required eating for good luck in the New Year, but there’s variation in the region about which greens are best for shoring up your chances for prosperity. Do you cook up a mess o’ collards, a pot of mustards or is cabbage front and center on your New Year’s Day plate? Louisiana leans toward cabbage – displays holding huge heads of Savoy alongside dried Camellia brand black-eyed peas and boxes of Jiffy corn bread mix are fixtures in local supermarkets. I love cabbage, and this New Year’s at our house, it takes the form of coleslaw with a homemade orange-celery seed dressing.

But my family likes other greens, too, and I can’t get away with keeping them off the January 1 menu. This year, it’s mustard greens. They’ve found their way into a variation on tomatoes Provençal. No, it’s not exactly tomato season, but I did find hothouse tomatoes from a regional farm in one of my favorite local grocery stores. Using Julia Child’s recipe as a springboard, I combined fresh white breadcrumbs with slivered and sautéed greens and a little grated Parmesan cheese. Here’s how:

New Year’s Day Tomatoes Provençal

Serves 6

1 strip bacon, diced

2 cups chopped mustard greens (wash and remove thick stems before chopping)

3 medium tomatoes

1 1/2 fresh white breadcrumbs

2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese

1/2 teaspoon salt

Olive oil for drizzling

Preheat oven to 400. Slice tomatoes in half and carefully scoop out pulp. Season inside with salt and pepper and invert to allow remaining liquid to drain. In a medium to large skillet, render bacon pieces until crisp. Remove bacon from skillet, leaving behind about 1/2 teaspoon rendered fat. Place bacon on paper towels to drain. While pan is still hot, sauté greens in fat for about three minutes. In a medium bowl, toss bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, bacon, salt and greens. Combine thoroughly, then fill each tomato half with mixture. Bake for 20 minutes or until nicely browned.