Salad Days

Filed in Food and Wine by on June 1, 2015

 

Green-Salad-Dressing

 

Anytime-of-Year Citrus Vinaigrette

A dressing that adds summer citrus punch to your salad anytime of the year is great to have in your repertoire because its ingredients are available year round, but they always taste like summer. This dressing also works very well as a marinade for pork, chicken or seafood, especially if you are grilling. You might also toss it with tropical fruit or berries for a zesty take on a fruit salad or add it to a pasta salad along with some briny olives and dried fruits, or even some cooked lentils.

Basic Dressing: In a medium sized bowl combine the zest and juices of 1 lemon, 1 lime and 1 orange. Add 2 teaspoons of Dijon mustard, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar or white balsamic vinegar and 1-2 tablespoons of honey. Whisk to combine. Slowly whisk in 1 to 1 1/2 cups of very good fruity olive oil. Taste and adjust seasonings. Makes approximately 2 cups.

You can take this in an Asian direction by substituting rice wine vinegar for the balsamic, adding a teaspoon or two of sesame oil, a couple of teaspoons or more of freshly grated ginger and a little minced fresh garlic along with a few dashes of soy or fish sauce. In this case, substitute grapeseed or canola oil for the olive oil to allow the Asian flavors to shine.

If Tex-Mex is more to your liking, skip the lemon and go heavy on the lime juice, make sure you add some minced fresh garlic and add a teaspoon of ground cumin and a few dashes of your favorite hot sauce for some heat. Stir in a bit of chopped fresh cilantro and/or a seeded and diced jalapeno (if that’s your thing) just before serving.

This time of year, tossed salads consist mostly of the following: romaine, mesclun greens, spinach, kale, grape or cherry tomatoes, radishes, carrots, celery, red pepper, red onion and English cucumbers. As summer gears up and local produce becomes plentiful, switch up the greens and add in any seasonal veggies (such as early peas, local tomatoes, beet pickles, broccoli, cauliflower etc). You can put together just about any combination that suits your taste. Make sure you take it beyond iceberg lettuce and tomato. These dressings deserve your best. They are sure to take whatever is in your salad bowl (or headed to your grill) to the next level.

 

CousVegSalad4

 

Grilled Vegetable and Pearl Couscous Salad

1 cup Israeli (Pearl) Couscous, cooked al dente according to package directions, and cooled

1 medium zucchini, sliced lengthwise into ¼ inch planks

1 red pepper, sliced lengthwise into 4 flat planks (one plank from each side of the pepper)

1 medium sized red onion, sliced into ¼ to ½ inch disks

1 bunch of asparagus, trimmed (the larger asparagus stalks work well in this recipe)

2-3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

For the Dressing:

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

Zest of 2 lemons

Juice of 1-2 lemons

2 teaspoons of finely minced fresh garlic

Salt and pepper, to taste

½ to 1 cup good fruity olive oil

Prepare the dressing. Set aside. Cook the couscous and lay it out on a sheet pan to cool. Drizzle with a small amount of olive oil to keep the couscous pearls from sticking together. Heat your grill to at least 400 degrees. Brush the prepared zucchini, red pepper, red onion and asparagus with a bit of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill the vegetables quickly, keeping them still crisp and not thoroughly cooked. They will continue to cook a bit after you take them off the grill. In a large bowl, combine the cooked couscous and the prepared dressing. Dice the grilled vegetables and add to the bowl. Add the chopped parsley. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve warm or at room temp.

 

TomBurrSalad

Best of Summer: Burrata and Heirloom Salad

The best part of summer, besides being at the lake, is the availability of fresh local produce. We take cream-of-the-crop heirloom tomatoes and toss them in a bowl with the simplest of ingredients. A beautiful creamy Italian cheese called “burrata”, a drizzle each of a good fruity olive oil and a balsamic reduction, a lightly-toasted crostini accompanied by a dob of basil pesto, a brief turn of freshly ground black pepper and a dash of coarse salt (we suggest Fleur de sel or a lovely smoked salt).

High-quality simple ingredients make the best dishes. And this one could not be simpler to prepare.

If you can’t find burrata in your local market, you can substitute fresh mozzarella. As summer heats up and the basil starts to flourish, your own homemade pesto would take this dish up another notch. But those are just the supporting cast, the true stars of this salad are those lovely heirloom tomatoes with their bright interesting colors and shapes – think Green Zebra, Gold Medal and Cherokee Purple – all of which can be grown locally and sport rich deep flavor. The rest of the ingredients are wasted if the tomatoes aren’t up to par. If you don’t grow your own, be sure to friend a local farmer, or seek out one of many farmers markets that are open during the outdoor entertaining season.

 

 

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