We interrupt this Road Trip and its gourmandises for a much-needed post about … salad.
Yes, dad this is for you. How you can have lived with a wife and at least one daughter who would live on salad if they had the choice and still find it boring is beyond me. So I am here to prove that salads CAN be exciting.
As many of you know, I am headed to IFBC this Thursday with the help of some generous sponsors who I have been featuring on my site over the summer. Working with one of these sponsors, The Ontario Tender Fruit Producers, has allowed me to experiment with some unique salads using fruit and after such a food-filled holiday, I am very grateful.
This is an interesting salad I chose to make simply because I had all the ingredients on hand. It’s a tasty mix of sweet from the fruit and maple syrup and spice from the chili. The only thing I would change when making it again is to leave out the red onion simply because it’s not a favourite of mine, but if you are a fan, it works with the flavours.
Ontario Nectarine Salad with Minted Chili Dressing
“Garden greens are abundant throughout the summer and into early fall. A variety makes this salad interesting both in texture and colour. When mixed with fresh nectarines and finished with a zesty dressing, it comes alive and tickles the senses!” – Chef Mark Picone, Vineland, ON
1 red chili, finely chopped
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tbsp *Niagara Ice Wine vinegar
1 tbsp maple syrup
1/4 cup freshly chopped mint
2 tbsp chives, snipped
Sea salt to taste
1 ea *Boston bibb lettuce, washed and dried
1 ea *romaine lettuce, washed and dried
1 ea *red leaf lettuce, washed and dried
3 Ontario nectarines, cut into wedges
½ red onion, thinly sliced
In a small bowl combine ingredients and set aside.
Tear lettuces into bite sized pieces and place in a large salad bowl. Add nectarines and onion. Whisk dressing, pour over greens and toss lightly. Serve on cold salad plates. Makes 6 servings.
Suggested wine pairing: Riesling from the Niagara Peninsula.
*Chef’s tip: In substitution of lettuces, use 500 g (1 lb) of pre-washed spring mix. In substitution of Niagara Ice Wine Vinegar, may use sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar.
Bonus? It’s so pretty!
Food Network Canada’s August Cooking Club Challenge was another perfect salad for the summer, plus it gave me the opportunity to roast beets which I have never done before (I *know* the shame!!!). I bought a variety of golden and red beets and roasted them in the oven in foil, drizzled with a little olive oil, some salt and pepper and some lemon-pepper for about 45 minutes – until I could smell that they were ready.
Roasted Beet and Goat Cheese Salad with Summer Greens - Yield 6
• 2 large red beets
• 2 large golden beets
• 2 teaspoons thyme leaves
• 4 tablespoons white wine vinegar
• 1/2 cup olive oil
• 2 shallots, finely diced
• 2 tablespoons lemon juice (I added about a tablespoon of lemon zest to this)
• 4 ounces soft mild goat cheese
• 4 cups arugula
• Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
2. Separately, wrap the beets tightly in double layers of foil with thyme leaves, 2 tablespoons olive oil, vinegar and season well with salt and pepper. Roast in the middle of the oven until tender, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Unwrap beets and allow to cool.
3. To make the vinaigrette, whisk the shallots and lemon juice in a small bowl, add remaining olive oil in a steady stream. Season with salt and pepper.
4. When beets are cool enough to handle, slip off and discard skins. Separately cut red and golden beets into 1/2-inch dice and put in separate bowls. Drizzle with vinaigrette and season with salt and pepper.
5. Divide the beets onto six salad plates. Toss the arugula with vinaigrette to coat and gently mound on top of beets. Crumble goat cheese on top. Serve immediately.
I added some poached chicken to this salad for a little extra protein and it made a great meal. Neil found the dressing too lemoney because I, in my mad-for-lemon-zest phase I am going through added about a tablespoon of zest to the dressing and our guest and I enjoyed the tartness against the sweet beets.
Because I had gone (ahem!) a little bit overboard when buying the beets, I had plenty of leftovers, so I added them into a simple salad a couple of days later. I combined the beets with radicchio, endives, sweet yellow grape tomatoes from our garden, some crumbled blue cheese, chopped California Walnuts (also an IFBC sponsor!) and some thinly sliced grilled steak.
As this was my first time working with beets, I am submitting these last two salads to this month’s Kitchen Bootcamp roundup where Jen invited us to explore vegetables.
And just to finish off, yes, those gorgeous grape tomatoes at the beginning of the post are ones that Neil and I have managed to actually grow this summer. (See, mum, I *did* manage to inherit some of your green thumbs!)