Ooh, my favorite!


How to build a better salad
July 16, 2013, 11:56 am
Filed under: Farmer's Market, Food, Health, Organic, Recipes

cherry-mizuna

We are salad people. And while I’ve always craved for seasonal leafy greens I have never met anyone that can build a salad quite like Andrew. He often laughs about his time in the kitchen, preferring to work the garde manger station while others fought for the grill. The truth is that properly seasoning fresh ingredients is an art that many restaurants chefs haven’t even mastered. We all know the horrors of an over-dressed, soggy salad. (If you’re looking for a proper salad in Seattle, Matt Dillon is the master.)

Salads are compositions and are a complex form of cookery. Using what’s fresh and available, assessing how sturdy the ingredients are to inform your seasoning, and honing your sense of touch are all important elements to salad-making and are so much more rewarding than opening a bottle and pouring. If you’re bored of your salad routine and hoping to elevate your technique here are some tips to help you compose a salad like a true artist, and a recipe to help you practice.

Try a new leaf

We are all about Mizuna this season. It’s like everything you wish frisee actually was, but we all know that it just isn’t. Mizuna is a Japanese mustard green with a slight peppery taste and small, narrow serrated leaves. For as sturdy as the leaves are (they’re also great sauteed) they make for a really delicate salad.

There’s also my other fave, purslane that is also in season right now.

Soap box: Salad greens should never come from a bag or a box, especially this time of year. I’ll share my tips for washing produce very soon.

Use your sense of touch

No tablespoon measurements or emulsifying. Here we’re going to drizzle and use our hands to feel how we season. Start with a light drizzle of olive oil to coat the leaves, and use your thumb or finger to regulate how the oil is dispersed. Then move on to the acid and salt. (This bit of info was new to me. I never knew you started with the olive oil!)

* assess the greens: How sturdy are they? How much oil, salt, tossing can they take?

Toss with a delicate hand

Use just the very tips of your fingertips to toss to keep the lettuce light and airy. Collect only a few sprigs at a time…like 1/4 of a handful and let the leaves fall through your fingers. Just as the ingredients are coated use the bowl to toss once more and maintain the height of the leaves.

Make two different salads, then combine

This is key! Build flavors by making two components of the salad that are seasoned differently. Essentially all you’re doing is using two different vinegars. It’s magical and your taste buds will freak.

Use separate bowls

Each component should have its own bowl. This will help you stay organized, save time, and will also serve as a tossing implement. We love our stainless steel guys.

cherrymizuna2

Mizuna salad with Summit Cherries and Blackcap Raspberries

We came up with this salad based on what we had on-hand after a farmer’s market haul last week. Don’t feel restricted by a recipe, use what you have and don’t be afraid to try different pairings. In this, the savory chives with the sweet fruit and vinegar are unexpected but so, so good.

For the Mizuna:

–  Mizuna leaves, ends trimmed

–  feta cheese, crumbled

–  chive blossom vinegar (or other savory version)

–  olive oil

–  salt

–  pepper

Lightly drizzle the olive oil and gently toss to coat the leaves. Once the leaves are  coated drizzle a small amount of chive blossom vinegar, feta, salt, and pepper. Toss gently once more with your hands and then by tossing the bowl. Set aside.

For the cherries and raspberries:

–  5-6 cherries, pitted and halved

–  small handful blackcap raspberries

–  4 sprigs chives, finely minced

–  sherry vinegar (or other sweet version)

–  olive oil

–  salt

Lightly drizzle the cherries, raspberries, and chives with olive oil. The berries are fragile, so very few and delicate touches are important. Gently sprinkle the vinegar, and salt.

Plate by gently placing the cherries and berries around the plate. They’re heavy so we want them beneath the Mizuna. No arranging! Just let things fall as they may. Then gently pile the Mizuna on top. To keep height let the greens fall through your fingers as you transfer them from the plate. Scrape out any remaining pieces of feta and oil. Drizzle with the tiniest bit olive oil before serving.

Bon appetite!!

 


2 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Natira, I agree with your thoughts on Mizuna! We are growing some in our ppatch and have been loving it on summer salads! Thanks for the recipe! Ill definitely give it a try!

Comment by Diana Salazar

Yay! I’m so glad you love Mizuna too AND I love that you have a ppatch. Isn’t it the best feeling harvesting veggies from your garden?

Comment by Natira




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