Salads, boring diet food, right? No, not all at. Salads are an adventure in both taste and flavor, when constructed correctly, they are also a journey for the other senses to experience as well. Of course they are great for any diet, lose, or maintain weight, should never be the goal in the enjoyment of a dinner salad. Rather the enjoyment of it in its self should be the goal.
Salads represent natures best for us to experience, their benefits last much longer than the momentary excitement that the taste buds experience. While we experience nature, nature has given to us an experience in health, helping to control; our LDL’s (bad cholesterol,) pack us with natural fiber, bring down blood sugar, give our bowels a normal life, and even assist in fighting off that dreaded enemy, cancer. The health benefits of consumption of salads can be seen in lower heart and stroke attacks, assisting in eye and digestive problems. It takes a science major to describe the benefits of the powerful antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that can be found in compound salads. Salads will help build bones, enhance muscle performance, and improve skin conditions and tone.
Salad “greens” offered today combine, kale, spinach, beet greens, watercress and Romaine lettuce, Arugula with its peppery bite, Napa cabbage, with its crinkly leaves and elongated shape, the three B lettuce’s Bibb, Butter, or Boston, Frisee and chicory to stand up to hot ingredients, Escarole the hearty green, Radicchio for color, bitter raw yet sweet when cooked, Mizuna (Japanese mustard greens) aka spider mustard or California peppergrass, upland cress, curly cress, and land cress also for a peppery bite.
For color, walk out to your flower garden and get picking. Many of the common garden flowers are edible and their beauty will add rich colors to your salad, mix in or garnish with, Borage with its beautiful blue, star-shaped flowers, Calendula (poor mans saffron) and Marigold for a release of flavor and color, zucchini blooms (try stuffing them too) hibiscus petals have a cranberry-like flavor, Lavender for a sweet and slightly perfumed-taste, Nasturtiums, gorgeous flowers with a slightly peppery taste, (if you enjoy rice pepper salad rolls add Nasturiums for great see through color) Pansies for a bitter and minty taste, and Roses, they have a strong floral scent and so many colors it may be hard to decide which to use. Don’t forget Sage flowers, Violets, Bachelor Buttons, Bee Balm, Carnations, Chervel and Chicory, Clover, Dandelion, Daisy, Gladiolus, Jasmine, Johnny Jumps, Lilac, Mint and Sunflower, just pick, wash and keep in a damp paper towel until you’re ready to use them in your salad. Eat only the petals, and remove pistils and stamens before eating. Be sure you know the source if you haven’t personally grown the flower, you want to stay away from those which have been treated with a chemical or pesticide of course. If you or your guest suffer from allergies you may want to omit flowers or just add a few at a time gradually adding more as you become accustom to them.
The list of topping for salads can never be complete, because for as many personalities that there may be each one will want their own topping, but give any of the following a try, then settle for what you enjoy. Tomatoes, red bell peppers, kidney beans, beets, strawberries/cherries, dried cranberries, pomegranate seeds, fresh figs (cut open) goat/burrata/feta cheese, sesame seeds, quinoa, croutons , cucumbers, roasted potatoes, sliced apples, toasted/roasted nuts, orange/yellow bell peppers, roasted butternut squash, roasted sweet potatoes, carrots, mango, fresh corn, citrus fruits, toasted/roasted nuts, salted pumpkin seeds, salted pistachios, sesame seeds, pomegranate seeds, fried garlic slices, raw veggies – finely chopped, crumbled tortilla chips, hard boiled egg, peas, fresh berries, halved grapes (roasted or raw), fresh peach slices, Anjou pears/apples, avocado, fresh herbs.
Of course salad doesn’t actually need a dressing to gain all those wonderful benefits, at times the topping, fruits, berries and various cheeses can serve as the dressing infusing their own flavor, yet, dressing are also a superb addition to your salad. Start with the classic French dressing (recipe below) not that tomato/ketchup based one, but one of that’s simply oil, vinegar and a few other ingredients, then with an addition of few more you step into creativity until you have created your own favorite.
Again, experiment with various oils, such as:
EVOO extra-virgin olive oil, obtained from the first cold-pressing, after that it is either virgin or just olive oil. Pressing the olives with no heat or chemicals used in extracting the oil from the olives with EVOO, it is considered fatty acid free. There is also, “Olive-pomace Oil” an oil comprising a blend of refined olive-pomace oil and virgin olive oils, it cannot be sold as “Olive oil”. Olive can impart a taste of the fruit, a grassy peppery flavor which some do not care for. Keep EVOO in a cool, dark place away from direct sunlight to prevent it from spoiling, check the package date for how long you may store it, 3 months to 1 year depending on the brand and usage. EVOO is often offered infused with flavors, various herbs, garlic, citrus fruit, etc. just be sure you check the label to be sure you are purchasing a product you will use. Better yet infuse your own. (Recipes follows)
Corn Oil, with its neutral flavor profile provides a great base to allow the other ingredients to shine. While corn oil is a polyunsaturated fat with some monounsaturated properties it can both benefits and negative health effects in our bodies. Blending it with other oils for salad may be the best use of corn oil, whereas, in cooking corn oil has a high smoke point so it provides an excellent medium for sauteing and frying.
Sunflower Oil, the balance of its monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats makes it perfect for reducing the levels of bad cholesterol, therefore a good oil for use in culinary purposes. Again a neutral flavor profile so it helps other ingredients to shine forth. Made from both the seeds and flowers of the plant sunflower oil is rich in vitamin E and low in saturated fat, so it actually has many health benefits, assisting the heart, helps prevent Arthritis, Asthma and Colon problems, a good source of Vitamin A and aid in preventing cataracts, among other benefits.
Canola Oil, Canola oil is a type of vegetable oil made from rapeseed, which belongs to the mustard seed family, in 1978 Canadian science formulated the plant and change its name to rid the negative connection to Canada oil or Canola. Canola oil has the lowest saturated fat level of all vegetable oils. Olive oil contains twice as much saturated fat as canola oil. High in good fats, it is the lowest in bad (trans) fats, packed with vitamin E, odorless, and tasteless it is excellent for culinary uses.
Sesame oil, has a stronger flavor profile, just a little goes a long way, excellent for Asian based dressing.
Walnut oil, gives a nutty flavor to foods. Walnut oil is a great companion when you add cheese into your salad.Let it stand on its own, it does not blend well with acids, vinegar, especially, try balsamic vinegar with this oil, its sweetness complements the oil. Watch how much you use for it may cover the flavor of other ingredients with its own.
Hazelnut oil, gives a nutty flavor, while working with the other ingredients in the dressing. It raises the flavor profile up, considered the secret ingredient of many chefs. Again a little can be just right, this oil blends well with others. It is costly, however.
Peanut oil, aka: groundnut oil or arachis oil, is amazing with its taste of roasted peanuts. Be sure you or your guest are not allergic to peanuts before using this oil. Peanut oil is used to lower cholesterol and prevent heart disease. It is also used to decrease appetite as an aid to weight loss. Some people use it to help prevent cancer. While cooking with peanut oil provides some great culinary benefits, use as a salad oil is best found when it is blended with other nut flavored oil, or, to tone done a stronger oil.
Soybean oil, is a highly refined, high heat processed fat, it is difficult to extract oil from a soybean so chemicals are required for the process. The chemical used in refining is one called hexane, a toxin, it must be heated to high heat to be removed so it is edible, but the heat damages the oil, making it very unhealthy for whoever consumes it, so just stay away from this one.
Hemp oil, going back 12,000 years hemp seed has been used for many and varied applications, culinary has always been a big one. With a very full-bodied flavor, it makes a very tasty French dressing. This not the villainous “hash” oil, is a nutty, flavorful oil that comes from the raw seeds of the hemp plant (no high here). Hemp oil helps maintain a hormonal balance, regenerates and energizes the skin’s protective layer, is a vegan option, helps lower cholesterol: the only vegetable oil to contain omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids (3:1,) can boost your immunity, is made up of 75-80% polyunsaturated fatty acids. Only around 10% of the remaining fat is saturated, making it the most unsaturated oil in the plant kingdom. Unfortunately, it is costly, so use sparingly.
Vinegars can also add to, or, take from the flavor profile you desire to achieve with your dressing, you have some great options, so choose wisely.
Red or White Wine, made from the corresponding wine, red tends to be subtle flavors and comes in more varieties, while white is a bit stronger in its profile with less varieties. Red will of course provide coloring to the dressing or its use, so if a colorless product is sought choose white. Choose red to accompany beef, pork, or game ingredients, switch to white for chicken, seafood, cheese.
While we are talking wine vinegar just a note about wine service with a vinaigrette dressing, consume a low acid wine and you likely won’t even taste it, you want a wine with a zing to it, something that is a little tart, the vinegar will help the flavor of the wine then. For green salad, try Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, or, a Pinot Girgio, for a chopped salad (depending on the topping) try using a wine which compliments the toppings, such as Beaujolais or even the stronger Zinfandel will be very nice, those with a fruity, low-tannin range. If it is a high concern and wine must be served, try, reducing the amount of vinegar or acid in the dressing, or, use a low acid dressing, the idea is to let every item served give its very best.
A summery White Zinfandel is best served with salads containing, figs, currants, chopped apple or strawberries instead of cranberries, pecans instead of walnuts (usually bitter skins) blue, cheddar and feta cheese, pineapple and lemon dressing, warm bacon dressing or vinaigrette, and marinated mushrooms.
Cider Vinegar, (ACV) Moderately acidic, this vinegar work great with cabbage family vegetables, hard fruits, and strong cheeses. From food to beauty and weight loss cider vinegar is one of the must have ingredients in your kitchen pantry. It helps to lower blood pressure, give a feeling that you are full so you eat less, lowers the risk of cancer, preserves food and so much more. In your salad dressing it adds a special flavor that contrasts with wine vinegar’s, of course that flavor is fruity. Some people take a tablespoon or more a day, straight, for its health benefits, just be aware that the acid will damage the enamel on your teeth as well as it may acid burn the esophagus causing some digestive problems, giving others gastroparesis which causes heartburn, bloating and nausea.. Homemade ACV is best (recipe follows) and very easy to make, try it and you will not want to go back to store bought.
Rice Vinegar, great for Asian style dressing, has a light fruity taste which enhances sweetness, mild acid, use with fruits, noodles, sweet vegetables, mild cheese and seafood.
Sherry vinegar, unlike wine vinegar, sherry vinegar has a mild oak flavor from the aging in oak barrels, it works great for “layering” flavors or the art of building a dish, it is to add a number of different, yet harmonizing tastes above the fundamental ingredients, sherry vinegar add one such layer.
Balsamic Vinegar, there three primary types, “Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena” “Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Reggio Emilia” and “Aceto Balsamico di Modena” all from the Modena area of Italy, age in a series of different wood barrels like chestnut, cherry, oak, mulberry, ash and juniper, for a minimum of 12 years. Look to the cap or label to tell the age of the contents, A red label means the vinegar has been aged for at least 12 years, a silver label that the vinegar has aged for at least 18 years, and a gold label designates that the vinegar has aged for 25 years or more. Products labeled condimento balsamico, salsa balsamica or salsa di mosto cotto, simply contain “some” balsamic vinegar and are not pure balsamic. Sweet white Trebbiano grape “must” is boiled down to a dark syrup and then aged under rigid restrictions beginning in oak, then into various other wooden barrels for the required minimum of 12 years.
Many use Balsamic by boiling it down into a syrup simply ruining the vinegar as its flavor profile by boiling away that which makes it prefect, just a few drops of Balsamic will add the flavor profile sought, using the vinegar as a garnish is nonsensical, a waste of great product and money, just think someone took 12-30 years to create something great and we choose to destroy its greatness by a roiling boil.
This “King” of vinegars will give nearly anything a flavor boost when used properly, use with stone fruits, lamb, seafood, poultry, mild cheese, strong cheese to tone it, build on lemon, ginger and garlic profiles. Use with berries to create a “Wow” factor on your salad, here you’ll want to top your salad with Teleggio cheese as well. A most versatile vinegar pairs easily with Merlot, Ribera del Duero, Riesling, lambrusco, Cabernet Sauvignon, or a great Valpolicella.
Homemade flavored olive oils and dressings are great, but very careful, there are unbreakable rules to make infused olive oil. Just a small of moisture (water) could cause the worstproblems imaginable, ingredients like garlic, lemon peel, fresh peppers, fresh herbs and spices may create a food toxin tat could be very damaging to anyone’s health. The oil will not support bacterial growth, but the water within herbs and other ingredients may. Botulism bacteria is your enemy, it can grow in this type of environment, even in a sealed bottle. There are several things you can do to avoid this problem.
Mix all the ingredients, refrigerate them and use them within a week: use fresh ingredients such as fresh basil, fresh rosemary or garlic, fill a 1-liter bottle with EVOO. Add a cleaned head of garlic, and leave to marinade for a few days. Use lemon peel, fresh or dried peppers, ginger, rosemary sprigs, etc. Allow 7 days in the refrigerator, then use use as required, keeping the unused portion refrigerated.
Preserve the added ingredients, first preserve the water-containing garlic, herb, etc. with a strong brine or vinegar solution, then put it in the oil. Pickling vinegar works best for this purpose.
Dry the herbs to remove all water, leaving just the essential oils, after the spices and herbs are dry, you can add them to the olive oil. Whole sprigs of thyme, rosemary, dried peppers, etc. can decorate the inside of the bottle this way.
Press the olives with the spices: pressing ingredients along with the olives is the safest way to flavor the oil. You must have your own olive press , available for about 800.00 dollars, so you better want to use a lot of oil. The oils from the added ingredients mingle with the olive oil and the watery part of the spices is removed along with the olive water. You could add essential spice oils to the olive oil to achieve the same effect.
So on to the salads, the great five salads, why do I call them great? It’s not that these salads are the so called dinner salads, a meal in a bowl or on a plate, nor that they are served with a prefect dressing on the side so one can use as much or as little as they may desire. It is, however, that these five salads have stood the test of time, they are an expression of someones creative genius, although the creator may have been forgotten, or worse yet, completely unheard of, their creation remains throughout time, region, or, status of the establishment. Some diners serve better Cobb salads than finer restaurants, where the diner values that salad, the finer restaurant devalues it with regulating to appetizer status, which, of course, is wrong, in that every item served from any kitchen needs to be the finest, freshest it can be.
A version of these salads can be found almost anywhere you may travel, it may not be called by it’s familiar name, yet there it will be, on the menu, under a new name, with slightly changed ingredients but delicious just same.
These, of course, are my five, yours may be something different, but maybe we end up with the best ten, and so on. What we all will agree on is, delicious delights are what’s for dinner today. So whether you choose the McCarthy Salad, the Cobb Salad, Chef’s Salad, Salade Niçoise, or, The Shrimp (Crab) Louie Salad, you know that dinner is going to be great.
For The History’s Sake
The MaCarty salad is a creation of The Polo Lounge, located within “The Pink Palace” also known as The Beverly Hills Hotel. It seems that a Polo player named Neil McCarthy, who used to frequent the hotel, beginning some time in the 1940’s, since then this salad has become the most ordered menu item of the restaurant, serving over 600 each and every week. For hotel famous for catering to the rich and famous, it is a surprise that a “salad” would be what you hang your reputation upon, however, like all things of excellence within the hotel and her grounds, one can only expect the finest in cuisine, certainly the McCarthy salad does not fail.
The McCarthy salad is a classic chopped salad, all ingredients get a Brunoise style dice, ¼” in size, little formal squares of delight. Some say that the chopped salad was first created at “La Scala” another famous Hollywood hot spot where Italian restaurateur Jean Leon created his famous “La Scala Original Chopped Salad” (chopped lettuce, salami, mozzarella cheese, marinated garbanzo beans, leon dressing ) here they claim to serve over 400 of these salads per day.
La Scala claims to be the home of the “original” chopped salad, and perhaps they may be in Los Angeles, they were quickly followed by the Brown Derby’s (now closed) Cobb Salad, where the La Scala is served to 400 plus customers a day, the Cobb Salad is served to thousands of people per day in various restaurants around the world. The story has it that Bob (Robert) Cobb after an evening out at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre with it’s owner Sid Grauman return to The Brown Derby for a midnight snack, where Bob raided the pantry just throwing odds and ends on the lettuce and then tossing it with his house French dressing, stealing some bacon for a busy cook, he served the salad to Sid and guests. The salad was so tasty that Sid returned the next day demanding the salad again, naming it The Cobb Salad. More than 4 million salads had been served by the two Hollywood restaurants before they closed, but thanks to Disney, The Brown Derby lives on, you can try the salad at one of their locations. The urban myth about how the Brown Derby got its name, goes something like this: One night, Herbert Somborn, a former husband of Gloria Swanson, remarked “You could open a restaurant in an alley and call it anything. If the food and service were good, the patrons would just come flocking. It could be called something as ridiculous as the Brown Derby.” Soon, a restaurant shaped like a bowler hat opened near Hollywood and Vine in 1926.
Other California famous shopped salads can be found at Wolfgang Pucks Spago’s, his farm-to-table “Chino Chopped Salad” Chino is the name of the farm that Wolfgang sources his produce from. Nancy Silverton’s Italian Chopped Salad, a re-make on La Scala’s consisting of Iceberg lettuce, radicchio, fresh lemon juice, pepperoncini, salami, provolone, cherry tomatoes and chickpeas.
Not be be undone, but staying on the West coast another chopped salad comes to mind, the Crab Louie Salad (Shrimp Louie, too.) This one has a bit of a murky history as to whether it is a San Francisco creation or from Seattle, or even out of Spokane, Washington. It was being served at Solari’s in The Golden Gate City as early as 1914, but guests staying at The Davenport Hotel in Spokane, could enjoy the salad creation of Louis Davenport as early as 1906. Yet another is found in a cookbook by Victor Hetzler, chef at the St. Francis Hotel, (a San Francisco hotel) included a similar salad he called “Crabmeat a la Louise” in 1910. Regardless, who actually created the salad, it is a marvelous blend of chopped lettuce, greens, and seafood bound together with creamy mayonnaise based dressing. For great tip, allow the dressing to develop in flavor by allowing it to rest in the refrigerator overnight.
Of the most famous of Westcoast salads (some say a chopped, some say not) is Caesar Cardini’s Caesar Salad, created in 1923 in his Tijuana, Mexico for anyone who came down from Hollywood to avoid the enforcement of the Prohibition, originally a salad prepared table side. Cardini eventually would move to Hollywood and open his restaurant there as well. Where Caesar’s version did not contain anchovy, his brother’s version “The Aviator salad” did, it was this version that people enjoyed best and eventually became the restaurant standard. Soon the salad was being requested in finer restaurants around the world, and not long afterward at most restaurants globally, a Mexican creation re-branded as Italian re-branded as a global favorite.
Not to be outdone, the East coast also has their contributions to the chopped salad as well. The famous Waldorf salad one of the signature dishes of the Waldorf Asotria Hotel in New York, said to be created by Oscar Tschirky, who was the Waldorf’s maître d’hôtel, after serving in the same position at Delmonico’s . He first served this salad in 1896 to a children’s charity ball, later to found in his huge cookbook published as “The Cook Book by “Oscar of the Waldorf” (get your copy at Amazon). Then of course there is “The Chef’s Salad” a constructed salad of cheese, ham, turkey, egg, tomatoes, created by chef Victor Seydoux at the Hotel Buffalo in Buffalo, New York just as a way not to waste any leftovers. This was the first of the luxury brand “Statler” hotels, this premier hotel was so successful it founded the chain worldwide, eventually to be bought out by Conrad Hilton for the staggering sum of 111 million dollars. The Hotel Buffalo is now long gone, in its place is the Coca Cola Field, while the hotel is passe, the Chef’s Salad is famous the world over.
However, chopped salads history is deeper and richer, Salmagundi is both a 17th century soup or salad, which is served as a meal. Less of a recipe, more of a method of presentation, it is the method of building, constructing a dish in layers that complement one and another in taste and eye appeal. One would take cold tarragon flavored roast chicken, layer over lettuce leaves, topped with a mix of capers, olives, sea beans (samphire,) broombuds, mushrooms, oysters, lemon, orange, raisins, almonds, blue figs, potatoes, peas and red and white currants and finish with a basic French dressing. It is likely as long as man has been dining on what nature offers, a type of chopped salad was featured on the table.
Our final choice is considered the most famous of all French salads, it is named after the city of Nice, on the Cote d’Azur, Provence, France, Salade Niçoise. As the city is located in Provence much of the flavoring has hints of Italian cooking melted with French influences, of course, so garlic, fresh herbs, tomatoes, anchovy or other fish may be found on your plate. The Niçoise salad is exactly, a taste of Provence, Nice specially. The King of Chefs and Chef to Kings, Auguste Escoffier, considered this salad to one of the finest , in his 1961 cookbook, Ma Cuisine, he calls for the use of “tunny fish in oil” canned tuna on page 130, yet in his earlier 1941 cookbook, “The Escoffier Cookbook” on page 645, he lists anchovy, indicating variety, you get to choose, just stay with the basics when you cooking or creating anything. Today canned tuna is frowned on and fresh, seared tuna is looked on more favorably. Salade Niçoise is summer on the plate, use the freshest ingredients at their peak for the best results, now on to the recipes.
The McCarthy Salad,
(A type of French ddressing)
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, grated
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
12 oz iceberg lettuce, finely chopped
12 oz hearts of romaine, finely chopped
2 oz watercress, finely chopped
½ lb red beets, roasted and finely diced
½ lb aged Cheddar cheese, finely diced
½ lb applewood-smoked bacon, cooked and finely chopped
4hard-boiled eggs, peeled and finely chopped
½ lb grilled chicken breast, finely diced
2 large vine-ripened tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced
2 avocados, peeled and sliced
Combine first 5 ingredients in a measuring cup; whisk to combine.
Combine iceberg, romaine and watercress. Divide among 4 large salad bowls. Arrange beets, cheese, bacon, eggs, chicken and tomatoes artfully on each serving. Drizzle with dressing. Top with avocado and serve with extra dressing on the side.
3⁄4 cup canola oil
1⁄4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1⁄4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
3⁄4 tsp. dry mustard
1⁄2 tsp. Worcestershire
1⁄4 tsp. sugar
1 clove garlic, minced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1⁄2 head iceberg lettuce, cored and shredded
1⁄2 head romaine lettuce, chopped
1⁄2 bunch watercress, some of the stems trimmed, chopped
2 oz. blue cheese, preferably Roquefort, crumbled
6 strips cooked bacon, roughly chopped
3 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and cut into 1⁄2″ cubes
2 medium tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1⁄2″ cubes
1 boneless skinless chicken breast, cooked and cut into 1⁄2″ cubes
1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and cut into 1⁄2″ cubes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 tbsp. minced chives
Make the dressing: Combine the canola oil, olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, mustard, Worcestershire, sugar, and garlic in a blender. Purée the ingredients to make a smooth dressing and season with salt and pepper. Set the dressing aside (or refrigerate, covered, for up to 1 week).
Make the salad: On a large platter, combine the iceberg and romaine lettuces along with the watercress. Arrange the blue cheese, bacon, eggs, tomatoes, chicken, and avocado on top of the greens in neat rows. To serve, drizzle salad with dressing, season with salt and pepper, and top with chives. Alternatively, toss everything together in a bowl.
CLASSIC CHEF’S SALAD
8 cups salad greens, washed and torn into bite sized pieces
1 cup ham, julienne strips
1 cup turkey, julienne strips
1/2 cup green onion, chopped fine
1/2 cup celery, chopped fine
1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup Swiss cheese, julienne strips
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, julienne strips
2 eggs, hard boiled, peeled and sliced
1/4 cup bacon bits, for garnish
8 ounces Chef K’s Blue Cheese salad dressing, (follows) or, any dressing of your choice
Container: large salad bowl
Prepare salad greens of your choice by washing and tearing them into bite sized pieces; place in a large bowl.
Toss the greens with remaining ingredients, reserving some julienned pieces of meat, cheese, and egg slices for garnish.
Just before serving, toss with a dressing of your choice and garnish with strips of meat, cheese, and hard cooked egg slices.
CHEF K’S BLUE CHEESE SALAD DRESSING
6 Oz Stilton or Roquefort crumbled blue cheese
1/4 cup milk
3 cups mayonnaise
1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp Hot sauce
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 teaspoons garlic salt
1 tsp cracked black pepper
Place the milk in a double boiler, add half the cheese and gently melt the cheese over simmering water, set aside. Combine the mayonnaise, sour cream, melted blue cheese and remaining ingredients in a blender or food processor, process until smooth. Transfer to a mixing bowl and add the remaining cheese, fold together. Cover with plastic and refrigerate until serving. Yield: about 4 cups.
CHEF K’S SALADE NIÇOISE
18 small (baby) red potatoes (about 1-1/4 lb.)
½ cup dill pickle juice
12 oz. Haricots verts (thin green beans), trimmed
3 Tbs. Mayonnaise
2 tsp. Honey
1-1/2 lb. 1-inch-thick fresh tuna steaks
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
4 oz. Small inner leaves of red leaf lettuce, washed, dried, and torn into bite-size pieces (4-1/2 lightly packed cups)
3 oz. Baby arugula, washed and spun dry (3-3/4 lightly packed cups)
16 large basil leaves, torn into small pieces
1 recipe Basil Vinaigrette (follows)
1-1/4 lb. Small ripe red, yellow, and orange tomatoes, cut into wedges
1 cup Nicoise olives (or other black olives)
3 hard-cooked eggs, peeled and quartered
Boil the potatoes and haricots verts:
Put the potatoes and 2 tsp. salt in a large saucepan, add enough water to cover by 1 inch, and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until easily pierced with a wooden skewer, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain, toss the potatoes with the dill pickle juice and let cool to room temperature, then pour off the dill juice.
Fill the saucepan three-quarters full of fresh water and bring to a boil. Add the haricots verts and 1/2 tsp. salt to the water and cook until you can just bite through a bean with little resistance, 3 to 4 minutes. Drain, rinse with cool water to stop the cooking, and set aside.
Grill the potatoes and tuna:
Heat a grill to high or prepare a hot charcoal fire.
Combine 1 Tbs. of the mayonnaise and the honey in a small bowl. Season the tuna steaks with 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper and coat both sides with the mayonnaise mixture. When the grates are very hot, grill the tuna until dark marks form on both sides, 1 to 2 minutes per side for medium rare. (If you prefer medium tuna, grill over medium-high heat for about 3 minutes per side.) Transfer to a cutting board and let rest for 5 minutes. Slice into 1/4-inch-thick strips.
Cut the potatoes in half and toss them in a mixing bowl with the remaining 2 Tbs. Mayonnaise, the mustard, and 1/2 tsp. salt. Turn the grill to medium high or let the fire die down some. Grill the potatoes without disturbing, except to flip, until brown grill marks form on both sides, 1 to 2 minutes per side.
Assemble the salads:
Set 6 large dinner plates on your counter. Put the red leaf lettuce, the arugula, and half of the basil in a large mixing bowl and toss with 2 to 3 Tbs. of the vinaigrette.
Divide the lettuce among the plates, piling it in neat, tall mounds at 12 o’clock. Combine the tomatoes and the remaining basil in the mixing bowl and toss with 2 to 3 Tbs. of the vinaigrette. Place the tomatoes in to the left of the lettuce and arrange the tuna to the right of the lettuce. Put the olives in the middle of each plate. Toss the green beans in the bowl with about 2 Tbs. of the vinaigrette. Arrange the grilled potatoes and the green beans at the bottom of each plate and tuck in the hard-cooked egg quarters wherever they look best. Drizzle a few teaspoons of the vinaigrette over the tuna and the potatoes on every plate. Serve right away.
1⁄4 cup lemon juice
1⁄4 cup red wine vinegar
1⁄3 cup fresh basil leaf
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons liquid honey
1 teaspoon salt
1⁄2 teaspoon pepper
1⁄2 cup olive oil
Place everything in a blender except the oil, with the blender running, slowly pour the oil in creating a emulsion. Use as required.
SHRIMP LOUIE SALAD
2 cups large shrimp (cooked, peeled, and deveined)
1 head romaine lettuce
8 tomato wedges
2 hard cooked eggs
Garnish: black olives
1 lemon (cut into wedges)
1 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons parsley (chopped)
2 tablespoons chili sauce
1 tablespoon ketchup
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon steak sauce
Chop the parsley
Combine all of the ingredients for the Louis dressing and chill it until serving time.
Wash the lettuce and pat dry or use a salad spinner to remove any water.
Tear the lettuce into bite size segment’s.
Arrange the lettuce on chilled salad plates.
Slice the eggs into sections.
Cut the lemon and tomato into wedges.
Place shrimp on lettuce, then garnish with tomato wedges, hard cooked eggs, olives and lemon wedges.
Spoon the Louis Dressing over shrimp.
CLASSIC FRENCH DRESSING
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Pepper to taste.
Gradually whisk in 1/3 to 1/2 cup olive oil.
- Shallot–White Wine: Make Classic French Dressing, replacing the red wine vinegar with white wine vinegar; add 1 minced shallot.
- Roasted Garlic: Slice the top off 1 head garlic; drizzle with olive oil, wrap in aluminum foil and roast at 400 degrees F until tender, 35 minutes. Cool, then squeeze out the cloves. Make Classic French Dressing in a blender, adding the roasted garlic and 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan.
- Bistro Bacon: Make Classic French Dressing; add 1/3 cup crumbled blue cheese, 3 slices crumbled cooked bacon and 2 tablespoons chopped chives.
- Mediterranean: Make Classic French Dressing; mash in 1/2 cup crumbled feta, then whisk in 1 tablespoon chopped parsley, 1 teaspoon dried oregano and 1 diced plum tomato.
- Dijon: Whisk 3 tablespoons each dijon mustard and champagne vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, and pepper to taste. Gradually whisk in 1/2 cup Classic French Dressing
- Spicy Honey-Mustard: Whisk 2 teaspoons each honey and dijon mustard, 2 tablespoons lime juice, and 1/2 teaspoon each lime zest and kosher salt. Gradually whisk in 1/2 cup Classic French Dressing then add 2 teaspoons chopped thyme and 1/2 minced jalapeno.