Category: Salad Dressing

Not My Regular Salad

January 22, 2011

I have a house salad.  You know.  The one you make just about every time you make a salad.  Mine always features mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, avocado, and lettuce.  Sometimes I add hearts of palm, kalamata olives, chickpeas, celery, and/or hard boiled egg slices.  Once in a great while there is cheese.

But when we have company, I usually shake it up and make another kind of salad.  My in-laws were here for the week between Christmas and New Year’s and I made dinner for all of us one night.  I was lucky enough to have a small ball of burrata in my possession and I decided to make a take on a panzanella.  I toasted up croutons, sliced up fresh basil, and since our tomatoes are ghastly this time of year, I roasted some plum tomatoes with olive oil and a bit of balsamic vinegar until the flavor concentrated and they were squishy.  I poured the croutons into a big bowl, scattered the basil throughout, scraped the tomatoes and their juices on top and tossed everything together with a bit of olive oil and more balsamic.  Then I pulled apart the cheese with my hands, added it to the salad, and tossed it again gently.

The result was the kind of salad that can make you forget about dinner.  The kind that people return to for seconds.  The kind that has stray fingers wandering into the bowl after everyone is stuffed, hoping for one last flavor-soaked crouton.  I was pretty proud of myself.  And I have been thinking of that salad ever since.

My brother Michael came over for dinner last night.  When I invited him, I immediately knew I wanted to re-create the salad.  The first time I ever used burrata was for a dinner that he hosted and I know he is a big fan.  Unfortunately there are only two places in Seattle that sell the stuff and neither had any.  (Seattle people, I’m talking about Calf and Kid and DeLaurenti – do you know of any other place?)  I didn’t want to abandon my plan but I had to change things up a bit.

This time I kept the croutons and basil, but I used smaller tomatoes (what is going on with plum tomatoes???) and put a few non-roasted ones in, added some pretty lettuce to fill it out a bit, and used a bit of ricotta salata I found in my cheese drawer.  I also made a dressing for a bit more flavor instead of just olive oil and balsamic.  The verdict?  I missed the burrata but this was still pretty darn good.

One Year Ago: Peanut Butter Cookies with Milk Chocolate Chunks (ironic considering my last post)
Two Years Ago:  Lemon Bars

Roasted Tomato Salad with Croutons
Dana Treat Original
Serves 2 generously

I like my salad dressing to have a lot of bite, so I use much less olive oil than the standard 3:1 ratio.  Definitely make yours to your taste.  The baked tomatoes are a riff on a Barefoot Contessa recipe and this is a great method to make sub-par tomatoes taste good.

For the Dressing
1 small shallot, minced
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. mustard
½ tsp. sugar
Large pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tbsp. olive oil

For the Salad
5 slices good country bread, cut into 1-inch pieces
Olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Good balsamic vinegar
12 “strawberry” tomatoes
1 tsp. sugar
12 basil leaves, julienned or torn
2 handfuls lettuce leaves
½ cup ricotta salata, broken into big crumbles

Make the Dressing
Place the shallot, lemon juice, mustard, sugar, salt and pepper in a wide mouth jar.  Cover the jar and give it a good shake.  Remove the cover and add the olive oil.  Cover and shake again.  Taste for seasoning and adjust as necessary.  (Can be made up to a week ahead.)

Make the Salad
Preheat the oven to 375ºF.  Place the bread cubes on a baking tray and drizzle with olive oil.  Sprinkle a large pinch of salt over top and a few grinds of black pepper.  Toss well with your hands.  Place in the oven and bake until starting to turn golden brown, about 10 minutes.  Set aside.

Turn the oven up to 425ºF.  Slice each tomato in half.  Set aside four of them and seed the other eight.  Place on small baking tray and drizzle with olive oil along with the sugar, and a large pinch of salt and a couple grinds of pepper.  Toss gently with your hands.  Carefully drizzle on just a bit of balsamic vinegar.  Bake until dark, caramelized and slightly collapsed, about 25 minutes.  Remove and set aside.

Place the croutons in a salad bowl.  Scrape the tomatoes and any juices over top.  Chop up the raw tomatoes and add them to the bowl along with the basil and and the lettuce.  Scatter the cheese over top and pour about half the dressing over top.  Toss carefully and taste.  Add more dressing as needed.

Ode to Tom Douglas

November 11, 2010

Eating out has always been important to my family.  This was challenging in the days before Seattle became a city with good restaurants.  We used to drive regularly from Mercer Island to Magnolia (to go to Szmania’s) for a decent meal.  If you are not local, that is about a 40 minute drive and it involves two bridges.  Another favorite of ours was a place called Café Sport which was housed right near the famous Pike Place Market, which was closer and it only involved one bridge.  The chef there was a man named Tom Douglas and the food was innovative, interesting, and delicious.  It wasn’t long before he started creating his own restaurants.  He now has a virtual empire.

Douglas has just opened a brand new spot but aside from that one, I have eaten at his other five restaurants.  I really like all of them.  The food focus ranges from pizza to seafood to casual bistro to quintessential Northwest, and most of the time he nails it.  Something I deeply appreciate is that there is always interesting vegetarian food to choose from.  In a town where you sometimes feel lucky to even get an option on a menu, Douglas usually give you two and both of them sound terrific.

Of all of his gems, I think my favorite is Palace Kitchen.  It has a terrific bar front and center with friendly and knowledgeable bartenders and giant bowls of pistachio nuts to crunch on while you drink your French 75.  The food is hearty and casual but always interesting and seasonal.  And they have the most amazing salad.

He calls it “Enormous Garlic Crouton and Romaine Lettuce with Parmesan Dressing”.  I love that.  It is most definitely Caesar in spirit and for me the very best thing about a Caesar salad is the croutons.  Why not just make a giant one?  Palace Kitchen’s is perfect.  Crunchy on the outside but soft enough on the inside that you don’t break your teeth trying to eat it.  It has enough flavor that I suspect it is cooked browned in a pan with butter and then rubbed down with a raw garlic clove.  Yes, the dressing is wonderful and the Parmesan is the good stuff, but it is really all about that crouton.

I ate that salad the other night before an event at his party venue, and again I marveled at how good it is.  Time to attempt a re-creation.  Recently I have been making a Caesar-like dressing that I like a lot so I bathed whole romaine leaves in it and sprinkled them with my best Parmesan.  I decided to see if I could just douse giant cubes of sourdough bread in olive oil, sprinkle them with salt, and bake them in the oven.  And guess what.  I could!  My bad news is that I actually forgot I was doing that and so, they there were a little more done than I wanted.  The other bad news about that is that, as I give you the recipe, I am not exactly sure how long to tell you to bake those heavenly croutons.  Forgive me?

One Year Ago: Orange Swirls
Two Years Ago: Spinach and Jerusalem Artichoke Soup

Romaine Leaves with Caesar Dressing and a Big Crouton
Inspired by Palace Kitchen
Serves 2

2 roughly 2-inch by 2-inch cubes of bread, cut from a sourdough loaf, crust trimmed off
Olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 garlic cloves
¼ cup low fat mayonnaise
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp. vegan Worcestershire sauce
5 dashes Tabasco sauce
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for sprinkling
1 romaine heart, end trimmed and leaves separated

Preheat oven to 375ºF.  Place the bread cubes on a small baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil, then sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Turn the cubes a few times on the sheet to make sure they are evenly coated with oil.  Place them in the oven and bake until they are lightly browned, but still have a bit of give to them when pushed hard.  I’m guessing mine were in the oven about 20 minutes before I remembered they were in there, so check yours around 15 minutes.  Once they are done, rub each of them with one garlic clove.

Using a garlic press, press the other clove of garlic into a medium bowl.  Add the mayonnaise, lemon zest and juice, Worcestershire and Tabasco sauces, a pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper.  Using a whisk, mix together well.  Add the olive oil in a slow steady stream, whisking the whole time.  Stir in the Parmesan cheese.  Taste for seasoning and adjust as necessary.  If the dressing seems too thick, you can add more olive oil or even a bit of warm water and whisk well.

One by one, drizzle each leaf of romaine with the dressing and sprinkle with more Parmesan cheese.  Arrange the croutons along with the romaine on a serving platter.  Serve with additional dressing and Parmesan.

Fall Salad Perfection

October 15, 2010

Back in May of 2008, I started this blog.  In the beginning I think I had three readers.  My husband, my brother Michael, and my friend Mara.  Mara is a co-op preschool friend and we have two major things in common.  She also has two boys who are about the same age as my boys and she is vegetarian.  She has been an enthusiastic reader from the start and I am happy to have been able to share so many recipes with a friend.

When our little group last got together, Mara brought a salad that she had spotted in Vegetarian Times.  I know we all have eaten our share of fall salads that star pears and goat cheese, but I have to tell you that I thought this salad was extraordinary.  All of us at the table went crazy over it and I kept insisting to Mara that she give me the recipe.  She told me she was flattered to be giving me a recipe (awww) but I think I will be permanently in her debt for passing this one along.

These pear halves get a dollop of fig jam in their hollowed out core and then a round of goat cheese.  Olive oil is drizzled over the top and into a 375º oven they go.  The pears bake long enough to warm through and soften up a bit and to let the cheese start to brown.  Meanwhile, arugula and slices of red onion get tossed with a mustard-y dressing that also stars fig jam.  Mara put walnuts and blue cheese in her salad (as the recipe instructs) but I was out of blue cheese so just opted to add avocado instead.  I really liked it both ways so feel free to add what you like.  I served the pears warm from the oven over the greens which wilted them a bit.  Both Randy and I loved the balance of warm and cool but you can always let your pears cool a bit more.  This is a dinner party worthy salad that is easy enough for any night.  Thank you Mara!

Pear Salad Previously on Dana Treat: Honey Roasted Pear Salad
One Year Ago: Blue Cheese Dressing

Roasted Pear Salad with Chèvre and Fig Vinaigrette
Adapted from Vegetarian Times
Serves 4

I made this just for two of us and I bet if I had made enough for four, we would have eaten it all.

2 Bosc, Comice, Concorde or Barlett pears (I used Bosc), halved and cored
4 tsp. plus 1 tbsp. fig jam, divided
2 oz. soft goat cheese, cut into 4 slices
2 tbsp. olive oil, plus more for drizzling
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 cups baby arugula
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced (1/2 cup)
1 small avocado, cut into 1-inch chunks

Preheat over to 375ºF.  Place pear halves cut-side up on a baking sheet.  Spoon 1 tsp. jam in center of each pear half.  Top with goat cheese rounds, and lightly drizzle with oil.  Bake pears 30 minutes, or until cheese begins to brown.

Whisk together remaining 1 tablespoon fig jam, lemon juice, and mustard in bowl.  Add a good pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper.  Whisk in 2 tablespoons olive oil.  Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary.

Place arugula, onion, and avocado in a mixing bowl.  Very lightly drizzle on dressing and toss to coat.  Divide among salad plates and top each with a pear half.  Drizzle with a bit more dressing to taste.

What Do You Do with Peaches?

September 16, 2010

My parents both grew up in New York.  My dad on the Lower East Side of Manhattan and my mom on Long Island.  I don’t think either of them gave a single thought to the West coast until my dad decided it would be a very good idea to move the family to Seattle for an oncology fellowship.  At that time, the family was just my mom, dad, and me and they thought they would move back East as soon as the fellowship was over.  Unexpectedly for both of them, especially my mom, they fell in love with the Pacific Northwest.  Aside from an ill-advised to Springfield, MA for a quick year, they have been here ever since.

My dad grew up quite poor, living 5 people in a one-bedroom apartment.  When he lived there, the Lower East Side was not the hip place it is now.  He hated New York and missed very little about it when he left.  My mom on the other hand missed a lot of things.  The Italian food, bagels, real bakeries, the shopping, the buzz of the city, and corn, tomatoes, and peaches.  Seattle has come a long way since 1973.  Our restaurant scene is finally getting exciting.  If you know where to go, the shopping is decent.  The bagels still mostly suck but there are a number of good bakeries.  Because of our climate, not much can be done about the tomatoes, peaches, or corn.

Now I know our tomatoes leave a lot to be desired.  There is a farm that brings pretty good ones to our markets from the eastern (and sunnier) part of our state, but I’m pretty sure they are still not as good as one from a New Jersey farm stand.  Personally, in contrast with my mom, I’ve always felt that our corn and peaches were pretty darn good.  Or, I did think so until a couple of weeks ago.

The Friday of IFBC, I was lucky enough to attend a pie baking class with the master – Kate McDermott.  If people could be national treasures, Kate would be one.  She teaches small groups The Art of the Pie and she has taught classes to some of the culinary world’s greats including Ruth Reichl, formerly the editor of Gourmet (RIP).  Kate has an extraordinary energy about her.  She dedicates each pie to someone she knows and she talks to her dough.  I love that.

As Kate went on and on about these California peaches, from Frog Hollow Farm, I got a little suspicious.  She is the type of person who shops as locally as possible – why was she being a traitor to our Washington peaches?  This was the last weekend of August – the peak of local peaches.  Frog Hollow who?

And then, she passed around a peach.  We all smelled it.  I was shocked at the fragrance.  Could we bottle that?  I’d like to spray that on my neck and wrists each day, thank you very much.  And it was not just the smell – the look of the peach was absolutely perfect.  Fat, round, golden, not too fuzzy, and lots of red mixed with the orange and yellow.  It was just gorgeous.  Something I would want to paint if I were the painting type.  With this set-up, I don’t have to tell you how amazing that peach tasted.  Finally, all the years of my mom saying, “You don’t know from peaches” made sense.  I didn’t know from peaches.  I did understand how Alice Waters had the audacity to serve a peach on a plate for dessert.  If it was the peach I tasted, I would have applauded.

Kate went on to show us how truly easy it is to make a pie.  She is not strict about measurements and encourages using your hands as tools.  When her first crust didn’t roll out as easily as she wanted it to, she laughed it off saying that even experts can have challenging-crust days.  The finished pies were perfect in that not-perfect way of homemade pies.

I would love to tell you that I had a huge slice.  The truth is, I had no pie.  Why?  Kate uses lard and butter as the fats in her pies and seeing as lard is not exactly vegetarian, I opted out.  I do have to tell you that I wasn’t aware that Kate used lard and when we first walked in to Diane’s Market Kitchen, the very cool space where Kate’s classes are held, she had little scraps of dough that she had rolled with cinnamon and sugar and baked.  Of course I popped one in my mouth.  Half an hour later, when she pulled out the lard, I panicked.  After not eating meat for 24 years, I had just eaten some lard.  My stomach knotted and I felt like I wanted to cry.  I contemplated leaving the class.  Then I realized that I had two options.  I could freak out, or I could be grateful that my diet is a choice and not a necessity.  I know people with allergies and intolerances that have landed them in the hospital multiple times.  This was just a bummer and better to look at it that way.  Onward.  Diane was kind enough to pull out an almost savory biscuit and top it with many slices of glorious peach and some yogurt/honey sauce that was divine.  Not pie but extremely delicious.

At the end of the two hours, I had learned a lot and had certainly fallen in love with Frog Hollow Farm peaches.  I told Kate I was on my way to pick up 5 food bloggers who would be staying with me for the weekend and she offered me one of the finished pies to take with me.  How sweet is that?  The next day, on a break from the conference, my 5 friends and I came back to the house to eat pie.  I told them my lard story and about my new found love for California peaches.

End of (very long) story.

A few days after the conference, when the hubbub had died down, I received a box.  It was, yes, a box of Frog Hollow Farm peaches sent by my friend Cheryl.  Talk about an amazing hostess gift!  Because there were 12 beauties in the box, I got to make peach ice cream, a peach crisp, give them to my boys for breakfast, eat them myself for breakfast, and enjoy them in this salad.  Here I used local heirloom tomatoes, local green beans, local basil, local shallots in the dressing, and those California imports.  This may have been my favorite way to eat them.

Interesting that my posts from one and two years ago include “What Do You Do with” in the title.  It’s a mid-September kind of question apparently…

One Year Ago: Chickpeas and Chard with Cilantro and Cumin
Two Years Ago: Zucchini Stuffed with Chickpeas and Israeli Couscous

Peach and Heirloom Tomato Salad
Dana Treat Original
Serves 2 generously

1 large ripe peach
3-4 small heirloom tomatoes, preferably different colors
½ lb. green beans, ends trimmed
¼ cup basil leaves, cut into thin strips

1 small shallot
2 tbsp. champagne vinegar
1 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
6 tbsp. olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the salad:
Bring a medium pot of salted water to boil.  Add the green beans and allow to cook until slightly tender but with some personality, about 4 minutes.  Scoop them into a large bowl of ice water.  Once they are cool, drain well.  (Can be made one day ahead.  Wrap them in a clean kitchen towel and refrigerate.)

Cut the peach in half and remove the pit.  Cut into thin slices and add to a salad bowl.  Cut one of the tomatoes into thin slices and cut the others into wedges; add to the bowl.  Add the basil and drizzle with dressing (you won’t need all the dressing.)

For the dressing:
Finely mince the shallot.  Place in a bowl or in a glass jar with a lid (my preference when making dressing).  Pour in the vinegar and the lemon juice.  Add a large pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper.  Mix well.  Drizzle in the olive oil and whisk or shake well.  Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.

Good Enough To Repeat

July 17, 2010

With notebooks full of food magazine recipes dating back to 1993 and well over 100 cookbooks, I don’t repeat recipes often.  There is always the next thing to try.  So it should tell you something significant that I made this salad twice in one week.

Spinach salads are not my favorite.  I find raw spinach to be kind of gritty texture-wise and kind of a zero in the flavor department.  Not that lettuce is so flavoful but at least it has crunch.  I love the idea of a wilted spinach salad because I do like cooked (or at least softened) spinach, but my experience of those is that they contain bacon.  Who knew you could just roast cauliflower and use that as your spinach softener?

Amongst the many treasures to be found in the Ottolenghi cookbook, this is one of the first recipes I flagged.  Originially the cauliflower was meant to be grilled, but I roasted mine in the oven so I didn’t have to watch it too carefully.  The ingredients may sound pedestrian but the result is not.  The dressing is so good that I just kept adding to it over the course of the week and combining it with different things until I made this salad again.

One Year Ago: Gnocchi with Mushroom Sauce
Two Years Ago: Zucchini Stuffed with Goat Cheese and Mint

Roasted Cauliflower with Tomato, Dill, and Capers
Adapted from Ottolenghi, The Cookbook
Serves 4-6

I served this as a salad but it could be a side dish as well.

2 tbsp. capers, drained and roughly chopped
1 tbsp. wholegrain mustard
1 garlic clove, pressed
2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup olive oil, plus more for the cauliflower
1 medium cauliflower, divided into florets
1 tbsp. chopped dill
4 oz. baby spinach leaves
1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half

For the dressing, place the capers, mustard, garlic, and vinegar in a medium sized jar.  Add a big pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper.  Give the jar a vigorous shake.  Add the olive oil, then shake again.  Taste for balance of flavor and adjust accordingly.

Preheat the oven to 425ºF.  Place the cauliflower florets on a baking sheet and drizzle them with olive oil, then sprinkle them with salt and pepper.  Roast in the middle of the oven until cooked through and deep brown in spots, turning once, about 25 minutes in total.

Place the spinach, tomatoes, and dill in a large bowl.  Once the cauliflower is done, and while it is still hot, add it to the bowl as well.  Drizzle in about half the dressing and toss to coat.  Add more dressing as necessary.  Can be served warm or room temperature.

« Older Posts Newer Posts »