The Chef's Take: Michael Chernow at Seamore's in New York City

This vibrant winter salad is just as good to eat as it is to look at.
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Seafood-loving diners swarm Seamore’s, in New York’s Nolita neighborhood, for the likes of kimchi fishermen’s stew and apple- and kale-flecked spicy squid tacos. The restaurant’s health-conscious owner, Michael Chernow — who also co-founded beloved chainlet The Meatball Shop — has a penchant for vegetables to boot.

Consider the winter-perfect citrus-root vegetable salad a refreshing segue to, say, charred broccoli and tofu cream nestled inside corn tortillas. “It’s nice and light,” says Chernow of the creation mingling parsnips, blood orange and grapefruit-like pomelo with such ingredients as beets and curly frisee. “It’s perfectly balanced with the chilled, roasted vegetable’s subtle sweetness and bursts of acid from the citrus,” he says.

While the parsnips add a textural dimension, and the blood orange and pomelo lend a colorful one, the mustardy poppy seed dressing — in tandem with red wine vinegar and olive oil — melds it all together with a jolt of earthiness.

Cold-weather temperatures often elicit laments when one is poring over sparse produce selections at the farmers market, but seasonal root vegetables are actually Chernow’s favorite. “They are substantial and hearty enough for a meal when roasted in the oven with salt and olive oil,” he points out. Root vegetables are also great when starring in a nourishing, good-looking bowl of greens.

Citrus and Root Vegetable Salad
Yield: 4 servings
5 medium parsnips cut in 1/2-inch pieces
1/3 each pomelo
2 whole blood oranges
2 tablespoons orange reduction
5 heads frisee
2 large red beets
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
4 tablespoons Poppy Seed Dressing (below)
3 teaspoons puffed rice
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 pinches salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Peel parsnips and cut into 1/2-inch slices. Season parsnips with a pinch of salt and a pinch of black pepper. Toss parsnips with 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large bowl; place in a single layer in a lightly greased 15-by-10-inch pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Peel beets toss with remaining olive oil, 1/4 cup red wine vinegar, 2 pinches of salt and 1 pinch of black pepper. Toss beets with remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil; arrange beets in a single layer on a separate aluminum foil-lined 15-by-10-inch pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Bake at 400 degrees F for 40 to 45 minutes or just until tender. Let cool completely (about 20 minutes). Meanwhile, whisk together dressing and next 3 ingredients. Place vegetables, pomelo and blood orange in a large bowl. Drizzle with desired amount of dressing and orange reduction; toss gently to coat. Serve at room temperature or chilled over frisee and puffed rice with any remaining dressing.

Poppy Seed Dressing

In a mixing bowl with a whisk, combine sugar, vinegar, salt, mustard and onion, and process for 20 seconds. With blender or food processor on high, gradually add oil in a slow, steady stream. Stir in poppy seeds.

Per serving: Calories 372; Fat 18 (Saturated 3 g); Sodium 230 mg; Carbohydrate 51 g; Fiber 12 g; Sugars 20 g; Protein 6 g

Alia Akkam is a New York-based writer who covers the intersection of food, drink, travel and design. She launched her career by opening boxes of Jamie Oliver books as a Food Network intern.

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