Wednesday, 4 July 2007

You Don't Make Trends With Salad

Salad is easy. If you were to enter the cooking industry without any experience, you get thrown into the cold food. Take me for instance, my first day in the industry was working at the CN Tower restaurant making Caesar Salads up the wazoo. It was the summer of SARS and the 360 had a Table D'Hote menu that had a Caesar option. My first day I made over 200 Caesars in four hours. Fun times.

Anyways, the possibilities of salads are limitless. Whatever you like. Whatever you have. Throw it together have a blast. Typically in a salad, a Chef endeavours to throw in different flavours and textures that compliment each other.

Take Salad Nicoise for example: Boiled Potatoes, Green Beans, Black Olives, Hard Boiled Eggs, Tomato Wedges, Anchovy Fillets (others may use Tuna or Sardines) with Leaf Lettuce and a Red Wine Vinaigrette. Each element in the salad has a different texture and flavour and when you put them together you have a classic salad.

I make this salad often because it uses ingredients I tend to have in my cupboard. It has classic elements that when mixed properly, leaves you with a different bite every time you dig in.

I like using Mache for my salads when I can. Also known as corn salad, lamb's lettuce or, strangely enough, lamb's tongue. It has the shape of an ear lobe and has a hazelnut flavour.

A Humble Chef's Green Salad
500g Mache, washed and drained
2 Macintosh Apples, thinly sliced
50 g Walnuts, crushed
8 Cherry Tomatoes, quatered
75 g Goats Cheese, sliced into 6 wedges
1 Starfruit for garnish(optional), thinly sliced

For the Vinaigrette:
50 ml Hazelnut Oil
50 ml Olive Oil
50 ml Apple Cider Vinegar
20 ml Honey
Dollop of Dijon Mustard
Salt and Pepper to Taste

In a large bowl, start with Mache. Arrange tomatoes around the outside. Sprinkle walnuts. In the center, place apples in a pile and top with cheese. Stand starfruit in cheese for height.

In a blender, mix honey and mustard and seasonings. Add vinegar and mix. On low speed slowly drizzle oils into blender until emulsified. Adjust to seasonings.

In the last minute before serving, drizzle vinaigrette on salad and serve immediately.

Serves 6.

A Humble Chef's Tip: Cutting Goat's Cheese can be messy and tricky. Try using waxed dental floss to make the cuts cleaner and more uniform.

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