I have a confession to make.
I have a love affair.
Salads get a bad wrap. They can be over-dressed and soggy or under-dressed and bland.
The vegetables can be under-ripe and tasteless (tomatoes, yes I am talking to you). Sometimes the lettuce is limp and wilted.
And don’t even get me started on salty, artificial, store-bought dressing. Umm doesn’t it concern you that the expiry date says 2016???
In other words, when salad is bad, it is really, really, REALLY bad.
So people end up over-looking how amazing it can actually be. For me, an excellent salad is all about texture. You need different elements of crunch, whether it be candied nuts, crisp veg, croutons, or all three! And don’t forget that sweet, salty, sour, bitter balance. Try making brittle with a hint of baking soda. When it combines with the vinegar in the dressing, you get this surreal fizzing sensation in your mouth. Remember Jones Carbonated Candy? It’s like that but way tastier!
Right now I have a slight obsession with quick pickles. Just heat up some vinegar, water, salt and sugar and pour it over the veggies (or fruit!) of your choice. You can do pickled pears or pickled radishes; a couple of weeks ago I even made pickled mushrooms.
The sky’s the limit. A salad is only as good as the thought and effort you put into it! Show that produce some respect!
Apple Cheddar Salad with Camelina Vinaigrette
-1 head Boston lettuce, chopped
-1 head radicchio, chopped
-5 Romaine leaves, chopped
-1 apple (variety of your choice), thinly sliced
-Camelina Vinaigrette (see recipe below)
-Pickled Broccolini (see recipe below)
-Cheddar Crisps (see recipe below)
-Candied Cashews (see recipe below)
-Savory Granola (see recipe below)
Toss the greens with the Camelina Vinaigrette. Assemble the salad, ensuring that each plate gets equal amounts of every component.
-1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
-1 tbsp. dijon mustard
-1/2 cup Camelina oil
-salt and pepper, to taste
Whisk together the vinegar and mustard. Drizzle in the Camelina oil, whisking constantly to ensure emulsification. Season to taste and set aside until you are ready to dress the salad.
-1 package broccolini, cut into bite-sized pieces
-1 cup water
-1 cup apple cider vinegar
-1 tbsp. salt
-1/4 cup white sugar
Boil the broccolini in the pickling liquid for literally 30 seconds. Remove from the heat and allow it to sit in the hot liquid for about 20 minutes to absorb the pickle.
-1 1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
Heat your oven to between 350-375F. Place little mounds of cheddar (the size/amount is totally up to you) on a parchment lined sheet tray. Bake until they form crisp little cheddar crackers. You will know they are done because you will be able to lift them off the paper.
-1/2 cup white sugar
-2-3 tbsp. water
-2 cups cashews
Essentially you begin like you are making a caramel, but you actually want the sugar to crystallize. Dissolve the sugar in the water over high heat. When the bubbles start to increase in size and it has a thick, almost corn syrup like appearance, add in the cashews. Start stirring. In about 45-60 seconds it will go from being wet and gloopy to dry and sandy. That means you’re done! Remove them from the pot and cool.
-1/4 cup whole oats
-1 tbsp. Camelina oil
-salt and pepper, to taste
Cook over medium heat until the oats are fragrant and toasty. Remove and cool.