Monday, 20 August 2012

Four Fabulous Salads

I do love rabbit food
A crisp, cool salad can hit the spot on on a hot summer day.
Creatively adorned greens at the potluck table always catch my eye.
A few pieces of roughage on your plate can make you feel a bit less guilty about all of the traditional holiday foods you've dished up.

I hope you will enjoy eating these colourful salads with your eyes today and perhaps give one or two a try on your own...or ask me to bring one to a potluck. :-)
Are any of you fans of "Chuck's Day Off" on the Food Network?  Chuck Hughes is a chef from Montreal who creates a meal per episode for people connected to his restaurant business or the folks in his neighborhood: the man who sharpens his knives, local dog walkers, his produce suppliers, his "regulars," etcetera. 
I haven't made a lot of his dishes, but one we love is his Endive and Grape Salad with Pear VinaigretteIf you are not familiar with endive, to me, it looks like a tulip flower with its pale leaves which nest inside each other. It is also known as Belgian or French endive which may be useful to know in case the cashier at your grocer isn't sure what name to find the code under. In addition to being a salad ingredient, you can also use the boat-shaped leaves as an edible hors d'oeuvres holder for chicken salad or other things.  In the recipe, a new term to me was "brunoised."   This means to cut into tiny cubes with 3mm / 1/6 inch sides, according to Wikipedia, and that's what you do to the cheese for this salad. Click on recipe name above for the original recipe; I will add my comments and substitutions in green font in square brackets with the copied version below.

Chuck Hughes' Endive & Grape Salad with Pear Vinaigrette

Pear Vinaigrette
  • 2 cups of fresh pear juice (500 ml or approximately 4 pears) [SunRype Peach Pear in 1.36L bottle]
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar (30 ml)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of maple syrup (2 ml)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Dijon mustard (2 ml)
  • 1/2 cup of canola oil (125 ml)
  • A little water to thin, if necessary
  • Salt and pepper to taste 

  1. Heat pear juice on stovetop over medium heat to reduce to ¼ of its original amount, for 40 minutes, until caramelized. Set aside and let cool. [Get this step going before anything else as it takes quite a while to boil the juice down. I use a very small, heavy saucepan and boil it like crazy!]
  2. In a pan add olive oil and toast pine nuts on medium to high heat. Keep an eye on them because they tend to burn fast.
  3. In a bowl, mix the reduced pear juice, cider vinegar, maple syrup and Dijon mustard. Slowly add vegetable oil whisking constantly. Season with salt and pepper. Add a little more pear juice, or water if the vinaigrette is too thick. Set aside.
  • 4 endives, trimmed
  • 2 cups of red grapes, sliced in halves (500 ml)
  • 2 pears, julienned
  • 1/4 cup of pine nuts, toasted (60 ml)
  • 1/2 cup of mimolette cheese, brunoised (100 g approximately) [we used applewood cheddar; Chuck suggests Gouda or Old Cheddar]
  • 2 teaspoons of olive oil (10 ml)
  1. Place endives and grapes in a bowl, add vinaigrette and mix well. [I drizzled the vinaigrette over the top...I think I recall that I had almost double what I thought I needed...]
  2. Transfer salad mixture in serving bowls and garnish with pears, pine nuts and cheese.  [As you can see in the photo, I serve it on a big platter sometimes, and have also plated it individually.]

Christmas Jewel Salad

This is an original concoction, the one I was referring to in the intro to help lessen holiday food guilt!  I was aiming for lots of bright colors and to incorporate mandarin orange flavour into the salad.  It's not just for Christmas, of course, but we thought it looked mighty festive!
  • 1 box of mesclun / mixed baby greens  a.k.a. mixed weeds  (that's what Larry used to call them)
  • 1 cup Mandarin orange sections packed in juice or fresh orange sections (they just look a bit shinier without the membrane on them)
  • 1 cup of whole pecans
  • 1/2 pomegranate or 1 cup fresh arils (already-seeded pomegranate)
  • Kraft Mandarin Orange with Sesame dressing
  1. Heat a small skillet to medium; toast pecans in it for 5-10 minutes, stirring frequently, until fragrant and browned.  Don't leave them alone for long!
  2. Remove seeds from pomegranate half, if using.  Here is a link to a way to deseed the fruit without looking like you had a terrible knife accident.
  3. Set aside 1/3 cup orange sections, 1/3 cup of pomegranate seeds and 1/2 cup of pecans for garnish.
  4. In a large bowl, gently mix greens, remaining oranges, pecans, and pomegranate seeds, and dressing to desired amount of coating.  Too much will make it really heavy; it's better to start with a little and keep adding until you're satisfied.
  5. Spoon salad out onto a large plate or serving bowl; garnish with reserved fruit and pecans.

Quinoa Salad with Apples, Walnuts, Dried Cranberries, And Gouda from Fine Cooking

Occasionally, I buy myself a unique cooking magazine for a treat.  It's always a very humbling experience but I did find a recipe for what looked like a very tasty salad in my last purchase of Fine Cooking.  At first, I was intimidated by the number of ingredients - 14, which seems a lot for a salad - and some which I don't use that often, such as:
  • Quinoa:  This is a fairly new grain to me.  My hubby teases me about couscous and its friends (think back to Cannonball Run: "Too much couscous!").  We can find a reasonable assortment of them these days out here, not always in bulk, but small packages are better than no packages.  The recipe suggested red quinoa, which I couldn't locate, and I think that brown variety contrasted nicely with the other ingredients' colours anyway.
  • Walnuts:  I hardly ever make recipes with these since I've had the unpleasant experience of tasting of rancid ones on too many occasions.  Hope for the best; I was lucky to get a good package and they added a nice flavour contrast.
  • Arugula:  This spicy green was rarely seen in northeastern Alberta.  I was excited to try it after hearing so much about it on the Food Network, but when we'd go to Edmonton and I'd order a salad with it, the restaurants had often run out of it!  Thankfully, within the last year or so, I can find it almost every week in Bonnyville!
  • Fennel:  Fennel looks like the end of a bunch of celery, rounded, with slender stalks topped with dillweed.  Do not fear it!  I think most people just wash and slice the large bulb end like celery.  The skinny parts of the stalk seemed to have a significantly more pronounced licorice taste than the larger ends.
  • Sherry Vinegar:  I had a very hard time finding this ingredient, but after a little searching on the 'Net, a mix of red drinking wine and balsamic vinegar was one of the suggestions and it seemed fine to me.  (Since then, however, I did find some at the Cold Lake Sobey's!).  The sherry vinegar has a more subtle flavour; if you prefer dressing with a bit more bang, go for the wine + balsamic combo.
The other items were more common things - sea salt, extra virgin olive oil, red onion, balsamic vinegar, Gouda, celery, Fuji or Pink Lady apples, dried cranberries, and freshly ground black pepper. 
It was deemed delicious by the whole family, even Mr. Couscous, and was definitely worth the game of Grocery Store Hide-and-Seek.  The full recipe is located here.  Thinking about the salad while mid-post writing motivated me to buy the ingredients yesterday.  Guess what we had for lunch today? :-) 

  • You might want to mix just 2 tbsp / 30 mL of the olive oil vs. 2 tbsp of it with the sherry vinegar and S+P to make the dressing; I found it a little oily today.
  • Also, the recipe called for 4 oz / 225g arugula which it listed as equivalent to about 3 cups.  I found that the volume was double for that mass, so I put in about 4 cups / 1L of the greens.

Asian Slaw with Ginger-*Peanut Dressing from "Once Upon A Chef" Blog

The fourth salad was a find on Pinterest; it was one of my first Pins on my "Foods I'd Love to Make & Eat! board.  Another Jennifer (and a real chef!) invented it; her website is  You must check out her original recipes, the mouth-watering photos, and excellent step-by-steps.  -Sigh.-  Something to work toward... :-)  Jennifer The Chef gave me permission to show the picture and link to the recipe.  Her salad is so colourful, crunchy, and tasty!  I was sure I'd taken a picture of it one of the many times we made it this spring, but perhaps my now 40-year-old brain isn't as reliable as it used to be...  I've been asked for the source of the recipe many times already.  The most time-consuming part is making the dressing; I usually get my kids to make that part while I assemble the rest.  Not everyone likes it really spicy so I omit the Sriracha sauce, and it seems people either love or hate cilantro, so I leave that out as well. 
asian slaw

*I have made it with and without peanuts and incorporated Wow! Butter (soy equivalent to peanut butter) which my friend purchased for me at Wal-Mart.  I find the Wow! Butter has a slight taste of sesame but it goes very well with the other Asian flavours and give you some peace of mind that you won't accidentally harm someone with a nut allergy.  A girl my daughter's age has such an allergy, and her mom was really happy when I told her before the potluck meal that the salad was nut-free and safe for their family to try!

Thanks for hopping to the island for a nibble!  Keep eating your veggies!


No comments:

Post a Comment

Drop me a line - comments, questions, and your own ideas are all very welcome! :-)