On hot summer nights, I like to serve a variety of salads instead of a proper menu of appetizer, main course, and side dishes. If you think rabbit food, you’re much mistaken. Think along the lines of pristine deli case display at gourmet take outs such as Ottolenghi. It takes a fair bit of chopping to get several salads ready for the dinner table but the reward is worthwhile. I’m all about varieties when it comes to eating. With four vastly different salads, there are at least two dozens different ingredients I get to sample. Just the way I like it.
Not all salads are created equal. Those made with grains, proteins, and sturdy greens can be made ahead and develop better flavour with a bit of time in the fridge. More delicate ingredients such as herbs, lettuces, and nuts taste best when they retain their texture before becoming wilted or softened from the dressing. What it means is that I can usually spread out the work on one lazy Sunday to enjoy a refreshing low stress dinner at the end of the day.
This made-head chicken salad is a far cry from the mayonnaise-laden version typically found at picnics. Store-bought rotisserie chicken is shredded and tossed with red grapes, farro, sweet red pepper, green peas, baby kale, and cilantro in a ginger curry vinaigrette.
Ginger Curry Vinaigrette
- 1 shallot, minced
- 1-inch piece of ginger, grated
- 4 tablespoon cider vinegar
- zest and juice of 1 lime
- 1 teaspoon curry powder (I used Penzeys)
- 3 tablespoon grapeseed oil
This Warm Crimini Salad with Soft Herbs & Hazelnuts is my adaptation of Suzanne Goin’s recipe in Sunday Suppers At Lucques. My vegan version packs plenty of vibrant flavours with thinly sliced endive, tarragon, green onions, and parsley. I love the notion of warm salads especially one with the meaty taste of crimini mushrooms. Warming a classic shallot sherry vinaigrette in a pan also helps to bloom the flavour. Brilliant idea since I already dirty the frying pan to sauté mushrooms.
I recently purchased The Sprouted Kitchen: A Tastier Take On Whole Foods to add to my cookbook library. Being a long time fan of 101 Cookbooks and Ottolenghi, you would think I discovered Sara Forte’s blog long ago. Not so. Her cookbook contains so many mouth-watering recipes that fit in my everyday cooking style and I am excited to try. I took inspiration from her papaya and red quinoa salad with Mexican Caesar dressing to create this Papaya Endive Salad. Chunks of sweet papaya are tossed with endive, mint, cilantro, toasted pumpkin seeds, and hemp hearts in a Spicy Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette. An unusual yet highly addictive spin on the sweet tropical fruit.
Spicy Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette
- zest and juice from 1 Meyer lemon
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- 1 clove of garlic, grated
- 1 teaspoon ancho chilli powder
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 3 tablespoon olive oil
I rarely get requests for any particular dishes. The freedom allows me to indulge in culinary creativity but the dishes can be hit or miss with my tasters. When M asked me to make “that quinoa salad”, I was stumped. I made countless variations of quinoa salad, some I don’t even remember. Generally speaking, I have a fruit & nut version with Moroccan-influenced dressing and I have a hot-smoked salmon version with Asian-inspired flavours. I took a blind guess and made the Salmon Quinoa Salad in Maple Lime Dressing. Thankfully, I guessed correctly and he was more than happy to keep the leftovers too! The only changes I made this time was adding some diced Japanese cucumbers and a whole lot of shichimi togarashi for some heat.
Not a shred of lettuce in sight and it was all good. Would you like to host a salad party of your own?