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Ajamo’s harvest salad is packed with autumn goodness: mesclun and baby kale, roasted squash, chopped apples, candied walnuts and boiled cider vinaigrette.

Fresh. Healthy. Real. That’s the tagline at Ajamo in Hartford. “We make fresh food prepared in a healthy, flavorful way so it plays well together. I enjoy using local, in-season offerings to create different taste combinations,” says Jennifer Miller, co-owner with her husband, Chris.

The harvest salad represents Ajamo’s focus on unique, delicious, nourishing food. “This salad combines the flavors of fall in a robust salad that can be a wonderful addition to a holiday meal, or, with an added protein, such as cold turkey, it can be a stand-alone meal. For a healthy vegan meal you can use quinoa,” Miller suggests.

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Jennifer Miller, co-owner of Ajamo in Hartford, knows the secret to getting people to eat healthy food: make it taste good.

According to Miller, healthy options are an afterthought on most menus and, being a vegetarian for over 45 years, she set out to offer patrons wholesome food with great flavor. “I learned it doesn’t matter how healthy the recipe is — if it doesn’t taste good, no one will eat it,” she says. Ajamo also champions environmentally friendly practices, using recyclable and compostable packaging and utensils. “Our philosophy is to walk softly on the Earth and leave a small footprint. Taking care of the planet is part of taking care of your body.”

Miller credits her mom for instilling a love of food. “She was an excellent cook and provided lovely, delicious and healthy food for her family. She showed her love for us in doing that,” says Miller, who’s been in the kitchen since she was 9 years old. “I enjoy making people happy with food.”


Harvest salad

Servings: 4 side dishes, or 2 as a meal

Time: About 2 hours

CANDIED WALNUTS 

(chef recommends making a day in advance and keeping in a sealed container at room temperature)

1 egg white

1 teaspoon water

2 cups walnut halves and pieces

½ cup sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

  • Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line a 14-by-16-inch cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  • In a medium mixing bowl, use a fork to whisk egg white and water until light and frothy, about 30 seconds.
  • In another bowl, mix cinnamon and sugar. Using a fork, coat walnuts with egg white mixture, then transfer to the bowl with the cinnamon-sugar mixture, evenly coating the walnuts.
  • Place walnuts on a prepared baking sheet in a single layer and cook for 30 minutes, stirring halfway through. They are done when lightly browned and egg white has dried.

BOILED CIDER VINAIGRETTE

2 tablespoons boiled cider (can be ordered online; or made by boiling apple cider until reduced by half)

1 tablespoon cider vinegar

1 tablespoon minced shallots or scallions (white part only)

½ teaspoon Dijon mustard

¾ cup extra virgin olive oil

  • Whisk ingredients together and let sit for an hour before serving.

SALAD

4 cups mesclun and organic baby kale, washed thoroughly and mixed together

1½ cups roasted squash such as butternut or pumpkin (you can mix varieties according to preference and availability)

Less than a ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil (enough to lightly coat the squash)

¼ cup thinly sliced red onion

1 medium Granny Smith or other tart apple, chopped

  • Clean, pare and chop squash into bite-size cubes. Toss lightly with oil and salt and pepper. Place on parchment-lined cookie sheet and roast at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes or until fork tender. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
  • Toss greens, squash, onion and apple together. Mix in dressing and toss to coat. Put into a serving bowl and top with walnuts.

Pamela Brown is a former English professor, a freelance writer, a marketing/PR specialist for the Jesse Lewis Choose Love Movement, and author of Faithful Love, her first novel that inspired a love of writing. Pamela resides in Connecticut with her daughter, Alexis, who makes her life an adventure. 

This article appeared in the November 2019 issue of Connecticut Magazine. You can subscribe here, or find the current issue on sale hereSign up for our newsletter to get the latest and greatest content from Connecticut Magazine delivered right to your inbox. Got a question or comment? Email editor@connecticutmag.com, or contact us on Facebook @connecticutmagazine or Twitter @connecticutmag.