Birds of a Feather

Month-o-Salads in Review February 2, 2010

Filed under: Recipes and food,The everyday — kcfeather @ 4:05 am

We’ve sort of decided to extend the month of salads indefinitely, it was so enjoyable (and hopefully healthy, too). But we’ll be very loose about it (so I suppose the decision is to just eat MORE salads, not only salads).  Among other non-salad foods, I’ve been anxious to try some new pad thai recipes (if anyone has a good one, please send it my way!)

In any case, here are some salads we tried, with commentary:

The fennel salad: Fennel bulb and fronds, arugula, toasted pecans, gorgonzola, and red grapes (from Cooks Illustrated)
More appropriately: THE fennel salad. It was our first salad this January, and we knew it would be the best, without even tasting the others. Because it did indeed win the best salad award, we’re putting the recipe below.

Celery root, pear, and toasted hazelnuts
This was decent, but turns out that it’s just glorified coleslaw, which is not exactly what you want for dinner, if you’re eating just one thing.

Spinach salad with roasted hazelnuts, pear, and gorgonzola
With K’s vinaigrette, or just a storebought vinaigrette

Spinach with pecans, dried cranberries, and blue cheese
An old standby

Salade Nicoise
Always a favorite. We loosely use the Joy of Cooking version.

Arugula with finely chopped bittersweet chocolate and pistachios, with a sherry vinaigrette (from A Homemade Life)
We – especially C – had not-so-high expectations for this, but I saw the recipe and wanted to try it). Turned out it was excellent  – the subtle sweet of the chocolate balance out the spice of the arugula and the tang of the sherry vinegar.

Arugula with sugared pistachios, orange, and feta, with a light vinaigrette with fresh mint (from Cook’s Illustrated)
This was an outstanding salad, second only to The Fennel Salad. Perhaps because they both came from Cook’s Illustrated?  Be warned, though – the sugared pistachios are addictive, and perhaps the next big ice cream topping.

Some salads on our list for the next month:

Steak salad with miso dressing (an old favorite)
Caesar salad with homemade caesar dressing
A new version of the celery root salad, a la Bon Appetit
Grapefruit and avocado salad (all the better to use with our new grapefruit knife!)
Spinach salad with avocado, toasted almonds, and oranges

THE Fennel Salad (otherwise known as Arugula Salad with Grapes, Fennel, Gorgonzola, and Pecans, from Cook’s Illustrated)

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp. apricot or peach jam (or honey)
  • 4.5 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
  • 4.5 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium shallot, minced very fine (approx. 2 Tbsp.)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 small fennel bulb, cored and trimmed of stalks, and sliced very thin (approx. 1.5 cups); fronds chopped coarse (approx. 6 Tbsp.)
  • 8 oz. arugula
  • 9 oz. red seedless grapes (approx. 1.5 cups)
  • 5 oz. gorgonzola cheese, crumbled (approx. 1.25 cups)
  • 3/4 c. chopped pecans, toasted
Whisk jam, vinegar, oil, shallot, 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper in a large bowl. Toss the fennel with the vinaigrette; let sit for 15 minutes. Add arugula, fennel frond, and grapes to mixture; toss. Put salad in bowls/plates and serve.  Enjoy!
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