Your viewing "Salad" (7 posts).

I'm toying around with something different. Rather than post recipes and give off the impression that I'm some food expert, I'm going to start posting more of my everyday meals. Last night, I was craving vegetables, after a weekend of gluttonous eating in San Francisco.

Once in a while, I enjoy a chopped salad. It's easy to eat, easy to make, and each piece gets lightly dressed.

I chopped up some red onion, a hothouse cucumber, some roma tomatoes (I know, out of season). I added a can of garbanzo beans and a large handful of sliced kalamata olives (not pictured).

I also added some marinated feta. This cheese hails from Yarra Valley Dairy in Australia. The dairy has, according to the website, 200 cattle. I found this cheese at Ralphs, of all places.

The cheese is marinated in olive oil. It tastes nothing like feta, really, and it's made with cow milk instead of sheep or goat milk. Instead of the dense, crumbling texture of feta, this is soft like goat cheese. Its flavor is mild and creamy, not strong or salty. I enjoyed it for what it was.

I used about two small heads of romaine, roughly chopped.

For a dressing, I combined a few tablespoons of olive oil, some red wine vinegar, salt, pepper, and about a tablespoon of Dijon mustard. I recently purchased a better quality, whole grain Dijon mustard. The flavor is good.

And though I was eating salad, I reached for a red wine. I've had this garnacha before. I like it because it is affordable (about $12) and very drinkable, with jammy notes. I have also been in a Spain mood lately. It's several steps above cheap table wine but not so complex that you have to sip and think.

 

 

This dish doesn't look like much, but it has both flavor and bite.  This is the kind of dish I would order for take-out lunch but not consider making at home.  Now that I know how simple it is to prepare, I might stop visiting the prepared food bar.  

Wheatberry Salad with Miso Sesame Vinaigrette
Serves 4 or more
Other than the proportion of water to wheatberry, the measurements in this recipe are flexible.  In addition, don't feel wedded to the vegetables below.  I used what I had in my fridge, but consider wheatberries a blank canvas.
  You could also try different dressings, like parsley-lemon-olive oil, or olive oil-balsamic vinegar.  You could add fruit, nuts, and so on.

INGREDIENTS

For the salad:
1 cup of wheatberries, rinsed and drained
3 cups of water, plus more to dilute the dressing
Red onion, diced
Celery, diced
Persian cucumber, diced

For the dressing:
Miso paste
Soy sauce
Sesame oil
Palm sugar (white or brown sugar work, too)
Rice vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper

HOW-TO:

  1. Cook Wheatberries | To cook the wheatberries, add the 3 cups of water and rinsed wheatberries to a medium sized pot, bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for about an hour.  When done, the wheatberries will have a good deal of bite.  Drain before assembling the salad.
  2. Prepare the Vinaigrette | Shortly before your wheatberries are done cooking, start preparing your vinaigrette.  Combine the dressing ingredients to taste in a medium bowl and mix well with a spoon or fork.  I used about a tablespoon of miso paste, a drizzle of sesame oil, a few tablespoons of soy sauce, a tablespoon or so of palm sugar, and a few dashes of rice vinegar.  
  3. Assemble the Salad | In a medium-large bowl, combine the drained wheatberries, onion, celery, and cucumber.  Pour the vinaigrette over the salad and mix to thoroughly distribute the dressing.  Taste and add more seasoning if desired.  Grate some black pepper over the top and serve.

 

Blue Bottle, Ferry Building

I made a salad worth sharing.  I don't have a picture.  But imagine.

Gouda cheese.  Aged five years, just enough salt, and toothsome crystals.

Satsuma oranges.  Small, skin warm from sitting in the sun, sweet with only a hint of tart.

Spicy wild arugula.  Good when eaten straight out of the bag.

Each ingredient good enough to be eaten alone, but when combined with a basic vinaigrette: a star salad to add to your repertoire.

Since I don't care too much for fruit or sweet flavors, I was surprised by how much I liked this salad.  I too often envision salad as spring lettuce mix weighed down with large cuts of vegetables and a heavy pour of dressing.  But this salad is all about balance.  Sweet, salty, spicy.  Lightly dressed.  It's simple, and, as I would expect from a farmers market cookbook, the emphasis is flavor.  But it's not rustic.  It has layers, it's elegant.  No one component dominates.  I could eat this over and over again.

I might as well segue into a brief interlude: San Francisco.  I miss it.  Right now, I miss the Ferry Building Farmers Market (as we called it).  Even though the experience is as pricey and as curated as a walk through Disneyland, I still miss it.  Waiting in line for Blue Bottle, eating a smoked salmon tartine while sitting on a bench, sampling cheese from Cowgirl Creamery (inside) and Andante (outside), pastries from Della Fattoria, greens from Star Route, bread from Acme, the pork belly sandwich from Roli Roti.  Sometimes we took a ferry to Sausalito, where the sun clinged to our faces.  Sometimes the Ferry Building was just a brief stop to stock up on picnic fare before continuing to Tomales Bay for oysters.  At one point, I worked for a company that planned beautiful, flawless events in, among other iconic locations, the Ferry Building.  Over four years, the Ferry Building became one of my favorite places in San Francisco.  I even miss the man with the inedible vegan drinks.  [Apparently his table is so memorable that the owner of a small guest house we stayed at in Chiang Mai, Thailand, asked if he was still there (she remembering him from her brief stint in the Bay Area).]

The market wasn't practical.  But it was pure pleasure.

I'm going for a visit soon.  And when I do, I'm setting aside a Saturday morning for the market.  I hope the sun will be out.

Back to the salad.  I have a few notes:

Other hard, crystallized cheeses would work well here - a freshly grated parmesan, a Manchego, or even a mimolette (which by coincidence, I first came to love at the Ferry Building Farmers Market).

I added roasted brussels sprouts, and it was a nice complement to the other flavors.

Toasted hazelnuts would probably be amazing, similar to the nutty flavor of roasted brussels sprouts.

The vinaigrette tasted a little too much of oil to me, so I tweaked the amount of red wine and balsamic vinegars.  I also added a squeeze of lemon and a small amount of agave nectar.

Arugula Salad with Shaved Aged Gouda and Satsumas
From the San Francisco Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market Cookbook
Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 minced shallot
2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
A few drops of balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 cups of arugula (if the larger kind, tear with your hands)
3 satsuma or other mandarin oranges, sectioned and pith removed
1/4 lb. wedge aged gouda

How To:

Combine the shallot, red wine vinegar, and balsamic vinegar in a bowl.  Whisk and let sit for a few minutes, as you continue preparing the salad.  Then whisk in the olive oil and season with salt and pepper, to taste.

In a separate bowl, combine the arugula and orange segments. 

Drizzle the amount of vinaigrette you want over the salad, and toss. 

Add freshly grated cheese, and serve. [The book recommends using the vegetable peeler to shave the cheese.  It worked well.]

I grew up going to potlucks, but it wasn't until the last few years or so that I started to get the knack of bearing something other than alcohol or cookies.  

Wondering what to make for today's journal barbecue, my friend/classmate/partner-in-crime Veronique recommended tabbouleh.  Parsley, she said, and couscous instead of bulgur.  I never knew that tabbouleh was popular in France, and since V is our resident Frenchie, I decided to follow her suggestion.

Labor Day weekend is long gone, which I suppose means fall is imminent.  But considering the heat wave we've been experiencing this past week, it seems LA hasn't gotten the message.  This dish is perfect to eat on a hot day.  All the fresh flavors of mint, scallion, and parsley, combined with crisp cucumber and cherry tomatoes, tossed with couscous soaking in olive oil and lemon juice.  I used a young local olive oil from Santa Barbara County.  I would have used parsley from my patio, but I've neglected it to the point of no return.

I used Ina's recipe (found here), which was nearly perfect.  I did use couscous instead of bulgur, as V suggested, and I added a bit less salt than called for in the recipe.  It seems that the ratio of starch to green can vary greatly, but V says her family tends to use more couscous than parsley.

San Francisco is treating us well.  It is unusually warm, and the Golden Gate Bridge has the slightest shawl of fog around its shoulders.  I hardly miss the computer.  But, I admit, having a dumb phone and a laptop with a broken USB port makes for photo uploading challenges. 

I'll have to wait until I get back to Los Angeles to post trip photos.  In the meantime, here is a quick fingerling potato salad.  If you like your salads substantial, this one's for you. 

I did a riff on this New York Times Magazine recipe.  The salad is simple, though it does require separate preparation of some of the ingredients.  But once everything is cooked, it comes together quickly. 

I added a bit of corn and cherry tomatoes (not pictured).  I think I would adjust this by adding more flavor-I lacked the called-for chives, parsley, and capers, and they would have probably carried this dish forward more. Maybe you could also add marinated olives or tuna, a sort of nicoise.  Whatever you do, be sure to toss the salad in the dressing while the potatoes are hot.  They'll absorb the flavors better that way.  Eat it warm or cold.  And the spiciest of arugulas is best.


Salad's an easy, throw-together lunch that you can make in large quantities ahead of time.  The word "salad" can mean anything from your traditional garden greens salad to chicken salad covered in mayonnaise.  This Israel couscous salad was quick to make and a healthy alternative to the gummy, sauce-laden pasta offered by the school food vendors.

My basic recipe is below, and you can tweak it endlessly until you have a completely different salad.  Any pasta or grain-fusilli pasta, quinoa, barley-would work.  I like Israeli couscous (a wheat-based pasta) because of its large granule size, which lends more texture and bite than regular couscous.  This salad takes about thirty minutes to make and requires minimal stove time. 

Next, I'm thinking of easy, portable meals for this busy week.  The plan so far is steel cut oats for breakfast, a healthy lasagna for lunch, maybe some quick fish or chicken for dinner.  What are you eating?  Do you plan your meals in advance?

Spring Salad with Israeli Couscous

Ingredients

1 box Israeli couscous
1-2 purple beets, pre-cooked
Large handful of wild arugula (I like the extra spice of wild)
Several stalks of asparagus
A few small to medium carrots
Half a cucumber (I used a Persian cucumber)
Feta cheese
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper

How To:

  1. Couscous | Prepare your couscous according to the box instructions.  It's more or less like cooking pasta, except the couscous absorbs all the water.

  2. Vegetables | While your couscous is cooking, prepare your vegetables.  Peel and slice the carrots, slice the beets and cucumber, and steam the asparagus for a few minutes until they turn bright green.
     
  3. Toss | When the couscous is finished, toss it in a big bowl with all your vegetables.  Drizzle a few tablespoons of olive oil and balsamic vinegar over the whole deal, to taste.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Add however much arugula you can handle, and the same for feta cheese.  Store in the fridge and eat straight out of the bowl if you're that hungry.

 

starter: raw kale and grilled artichoke salad;
Santa Barbara and Fanny Bay oysters on the half shell
main: butter poached lobster, parmesan risotto, root vegetables
dessert: olive oil, salt and caramel truffles
(and my lemon bars, not featured)

lobster bits and vegetables cooked
to create a glaze that will go into the poaching liquid

lobster taking a bath

starter salad (pre-made)
(oysters not pictured)

et voilà!

Reading that this poached lobster was the best dish in the world, M decided to recreate it for Valentine's Day.  It was the best dish in the world.  But not because it was lobster.


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