June 6, 2013

Most of us have food idiosyncrasies.  (I just spelled that word without spell check.  Did you know I won the 4th grade spelling bee?)  I am grateful that my husband doesn’t really have any.  He is pretty black and white.  There are a few things he does not like (beets the hardest one for me to accept) and otherwise he is happy to eat whatever I make for dinner.

All in all, I consider myself to be a good and not picky eater.  I don’t eat meat and I don’t like okra or papaya.  Even my idiosyncrasies are things that don’t prevent me from enjoying a meal at your house.  Curious?  Here they are.

I don’t like nuts in my sweets.  I’ve mentioned this many times here.  I would never put nuts in my brownies and I only tolerate them in cookies like this one.  I like nuts by themselves and in savory food but please keep them out of my treats.

I don’t like my food to touch each other.  I’m fine with soups and stews where things are all mixed together but if I have a dinner plate with three different things on it, I will eat those things one at a time, and I would prefer that they not actually touch.  Weird?  Thanksgiving is tough for me.

I don’t like fruit in my salads.  I like fruit salad.  I just don’t like fruit in my salad.

But I think it is good to challenge idiosyncrasies or dislikes, which is why I make Randy try a beet at least once a year.  And it is why I made a salad with cherries.  Guess what?  It was great!  The key for me was creating a good balance for the sweetness of the cherries.  I used peppery arugula as my lettuce and a salty tangy feta.  I threw in some scallions for a bit of heat, a very rare addition salad addition for me since I don’t really like raw members of the onion family (idiosyncrasy?)  I always make my vinaigrettes with a lot of bite but this one was downright assertive and it went perfectly with the rest of the salad.

A few notes.  Arugula has a lot of personality in the taste department but it is a soft lettuce and wilts quickly.  Dress the salad right before you are going to eat it.  I will always encourage you to buy great cheese and feta is no exception.  Bad feta, usually the kind that is pre-crumbled, is dry and tastes a bit like sawdust.  You want either a French or Greek cheese that is sold in a brick, not a tub.  This recipe will make more dressing than you need for this salad but it will keep for a week or more in your refrigerator (this is true of most salad dressing you make).  Finally, I would say this salad serves four normal salad eaters but Randy and I ate the whole thing.

One Year Ago:  Roasted Pickled Cauliflower Salad
Two Years Ago:  Puff Pastry Squares with Pea and Tarragon Purée,
Three Years Ago:  Radishes with Sweet Butter and Chive-Sage Salt, Asparagus and Grilled Shiitake with Soy Vinaigrette
Four Years Ago:  Oven-Fried Rice Balls with Gruyère, Mexican Pizza, Strawberry Rhubarb Coffee Cake
Five Years Ago:  Gazpacho

Arugula Salad with Cherries and Feta

Dana Treat Original
Serves 4 as a first course

For the dressing:
1 large garlic cloved, pressed or minced
1½ tsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. honey
4 tbsp. sherry vinegar
¼ tsp. each sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ cup + 1 tbsp. olive oil

For the salad:
2 scallions, white and pale green part only, thinly sliced
12 cherries, pitted and halved
1 small avocado, pitted, and cut into small chunks
1 stalk celery, thinly sliced
3 ounces feta cheese, cut into small cubes
5 ounces arugula
2 tbsp. sunflower seeds

Make the dressing:
Place the first five ingredients in a clean wide-mouth jar or a bowl.  Use a whisk to blend.  (This helps the honey get incorporated.)  Add the olive oil and whisk if you are using a bowl, or cover and shake vigorously if you are using a jar.  Taste.  If the dressing is too strong for you, add a bit more honey and a bit more olive oil to taste.  (Store the unused portion of the dressing in the refrigerator.  The olive oil will solidify in the cold so remember to allow the dressing about minutes at room temperature before using it for the next salad.)

Make the salad:
Place all the ingredients except the sunflower seeds in a large bowl.  Drizzle with a bit of dressing and toss carefully so the cheese doesn’t fall apart.  Scatter the sunflower seeds over top and toss again.


  1. I have so many food idiosyncrasies, it would take hours to list them all! I always assume I’m the pickiest eater in the world. But, I do like to challenge them. Cherries in a salad with feta sounds fabulous. I wouldn’t be picky about this at all.

    Comment by lisaiscooking — June 6, 2013 @ 9:54 pm

  2. My local store carries so many different Fetas. Do you have a brand you love?

    Comment by Suzanne — June 7, 2013 @ 9:06 pm

  3. Totally agree on the nuts! I will pick them out or eat around them. This salad looks great. Thanks!

    Comment by Sara M — June 8, 2013 @ 4:12 am

  4. I am pretty sure I have a few food idiosyncrasies as well…a dislike of beets and mushrooms (except morels…which I love. of course.) And I’m the same way about food touching…I even eat sandwiches in pieces instead of in one big bite! I actually LOVE fruit in my salads so this sounds amazing to me!

    Comment by Joanne — June 8, 2013 @ 1:01 pm

  5. Suzanne, I think Mt. Vikos is a really good option.

    Comment by dana — June 8, 2013 @ 4:00 pm

  6. I am glad to hear someone else doesn’t want nuts in their sweets :)

    Comment by Alana Barton — June 8, 2013 @ 11:57 pm

  7. like yours, although my husband likes almost anything i put in front of him, he refuses to eat beets! it makes me crazy cuz i think they are AMAZING!

    and i SO agree with you on the nut thing!

    Comment by Meredith — June 10, 2013 @ 5:18 am

  8. I don’t like a quite a lot of things (mushrooms least of all), but I do like fruit in salads! My favourite, and a summer staple here, involves baby leaves, alfalfa sprouts, nectarines, lardons, and manchego cheese, with an avocado/buttermilk/toasted cumin dressing. It is very tasty! :-)

    Comment by Lynn — June 11, 2013 @ 8:15 pm

  9. This is definitely the Summer of Arugula for me. I planted a few small plants earlier this spring, they went bananas, and I’ve been eating the leaves every day. Pairing it with cherries and feta sounds great.

    I’m really enjoying watching your summer unfold on Instagram, by the way. Your family has totally acclimated to the California sunshine by the looks of it!

    Comment by Cheryl — June 18, 2013 @ 4:54 pm

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