Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Salad Days & Nights

Does anyone feel like cooking in this heat? Certainly not me, and I'm not only an avid home cook, but a professional recipe developer and food writer.

At last Saturday's farmers' market in Joseph, I shared tips for making summer supper salads. While making a salad doesn't sound like a major cooking challenge, there are some key elements that make it satisfying:
  • feature a protein, such as shredded grilled chicken, thinly sliced grilled steak or a hearty vegetable like roasted beets
  • include a starch, such as (leftover) roasted potatoes, cooked beans or bowtie pasta
  • garnish with croutons, crumbled or shredded cheese or nuts
  • drizzle it with a creamy dressing, such as a blue cheese, ranch or green goddess (homemade is easy and best)
We all have our favorite classic salad, be it Caesar, chef, cobb, nicoise or steak. All of them are called composed salads built on a base of salad greens with a main ingredient (or 2), vegetables, garnishes and dressing.

At the demonstration, I prepared 3 salads from a host of mix-and-match ingredients from Fluit Family Farms and Backyard Gardens that included:
  • Grilled steak salad with salad mix, thinly sliced flank steak, tomatoes, green beans, bacon, white beans, homemade croutons with blue cheese dressing
  • Asian steak salad with Asian salad mix, rice noodles, sliced cucumber, snap peas, chopped grilled flank steak and cilantro with a rice wine dressing (recipe follows)
  • Raw beet salad over salad mix with shredded grilled chicken breast, grated beets & carrots, feta, chopped toasted walnuts and chopped parlsey with red wine vinaigrette

I could easily have made a dozen different salads from these ingredients. The best part was, since all of them were prepared in advance, there was no actual cooking involved.

Try it yourself at home!
--Lynne Sampson Curry

Rice Wine Dressing
This is my all-purpose dressing for Asian-style salads made with shredded cabbage, rice noodles or cooked rice tossed with grilled chicken, pork or tofu plus grated carrots or radish, chopped scallions and cilantro--and that's just to name a few possibilities.

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup fish sauce
1/2 teaspoons red chili flakes (optional)

Mix all the ingredients together in a small bowl. Toss into the salad to taste.