Fall has arrived in Southern California bringing a crisp chill to the air. That’s when I gravitate towards steamy soups; but did you know Fall is actually great weather for salads? Many salad greens grow best in cooler weather. Add some seasonal fruits and vegetables and you’re on your way to some exciting Fall dishes, including today’s recipe. If you’re looking for a festive holiday salad, this one is a showstopper!
In addition to salads, this week we learned about herbs, seasonal fruits and vegetables.
Ancient Greeks crowned their heroes with dill and laurel. Today, fresh herbs are the jewels in our culinary dishes, paramount to any great recipe. Additionally, fresh herbs add flavor without the calories. They’re easy to use and can last over a week, if stored properly.
How to Store Fresh Herbs
- Rinse fresh herbs well, lay on a paper towel. A salad spinner works great.
- Wrap loosely in the paper towel, then place in zip-lock bag, leaving bag open.
- Store open bag of herbs in your refrigerator’s crisper.
Cooking with Fresh Herbs
- If you are substituting fresh herbs for dried ones, use about three times as much.
- Add the more delicate herbs a minute or two before completion of cooking, or sprinkle on food before serving. e.g. parsley, cilantro, mint, chives, cilantro, basil, and dill.
- The less delicate herbs, such as oregano, thyme, rosemary, tarragon and sage, can be added in the last 20 minutes of cooking.
With our global marketplace, we can buy many fruits and vegetables grown anywhere in the world all year round. Although this is pretty amazing, it’s not environmentally friendly or of good value.
Why Buy Seasonally?
- To get the most flavor and nutritional value
- More affordable
- Greater freshness
Visiting your local farmer’s market is a good way to know what is in season. It is also a good challenge for trying new foods. Some of my favorite discoveries at the market have been celeriac, Jerusalem artichokes, jujubes and after this class, persimmons.
Did you know that vegetables and fruit growing in the same season often complement each other? Today’s recipe is a perfect example.
To find out what’s harvested seasonally in your area of the U.S., go to www.localharvest.org
The word “salad” conjures up a thousand images and is not limited to lettuce. For this blog, we’ll address greens.
- In Ancient Egypt lettuce was considered an aphrodisiac food.
- Ancient Greek physicians believed lettuce acted as a sleep-inducing agent.
- Christopher Columbus introduced lettuce to the New World.
A healthy salad starts with properly washing your greens to remove residual soil. Even if you buy pre-washed greens, wash them again according to Consumer Reports.
I have also read adding a little bit of (food grade) hydrogen peroxide to the wash water and soak the lettuce will make the lettuce crisper.
Drying your greens is very important as well. Dressing will not stick to wet greens and dilutes the flavor.
Prepping Salad Greens
- Wash greens in a sink filled with water. Don’t wash lettuce directly under running water as it can crush the cell walls of the lettuce.
- Slice, don’t tear your greens. You can bruise the lettuce.
- If your greens aren’t crisp, soak them a few minutes in ice water.
- Use a salad spinner to dry greens. Patting them dry with a towel will also bruise lettuce.
There are so many wonderful choices in greens these days. I suggest experimenting with different types for fun and variety.
To see a visual guide of different salad greens and their usage click here.
Dressing Your Salad
Using oil and vinegar to dress greens and vegetables dates back nearly 2,000 years. (Unfortunately most store bought salad dressings taste like they date back that far as well). The word “salad” is based on the Latin word for “salt”. It can be traced to the ancient Romans who sprinkled salt on grasses and herbs, calling it herba salata. Today’s salad dressing still has the same roots, but with lots of wonderful variations.
In Class 4: Savory Sauceswe learned that vinaigrette is a basic sauce. It’s used as a salad dressing, which can be made from several simple ingredients in less than FIVE minutes. Once you understand the basic ratio – one part vinegar to three parts oil – the possibilities are endless.
After last week’s artery clogging meal of yummy cheese, butter & milk, our bodies were given a break with salads. In our class we made 11 salads and one veggie dip.
Here are the some of the salads we made.
1 – Grapefruit, Butter Lettuce and Avocado Salad
2 – Insalata Bianca (White Salad) – click here for recipe
3 – Warm Spinach Salad with Basil and Pinenuts
1- Apple, Dried Cherry & Walnut Salad with Maple Dressing – click here for recipe
2 – Date and Orange Salad with Feta and Pistachios
3 – Classic Caesar Salad
1 – Sesame Watercress Salad
2 – Jicama Salad with Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette
3 – Classic Greek Salad
I made the Jicama Salad for my class assignment. It was good, but I actually enjoy my friend Alice’s Jicama and Cucumber Salad even more. Click here to see her recipe. Rona made the Apple, Dried Cherry and Walnut Salad with Maple Dressing, which would be a great holiday salad. Click here to see the recipe on Rona’s blog.
“To remember a successful salad is generally to remember a successful dinner; at all events, the perfect dinner necessarily includes the perfect salad.” - George Ellwanger
The salad I choose to make was the Persimmon Pomegranate Salad with Goat Cheese and Pistachios. I didn’t think I liked persimmons until I ate this salad. Please give it a try. If you can’t find persimmons, use apples.
Buying a really good quality goat cheese will win you bonus points.
- 1 medium shallot, minced
- 1 T. sherry vinegar
- 1 tsp. pomegranate molasses (look in your ethnic isle at the grocery store)
- ¾ tsp. salt (or to taste)
- ½ tsp. freshly ground pepper
- 3 T. olive oil
- 6 generous handfuls of spicy mixed greens
- 2 fuyu persimmons (not Hachiya)
- ½ C. pistachios, toasted
- 1 pomegranate, seeded
- 4 oz. soft goat cheese, crumbled (make sure goat cheese is cold otherwise it will blend into the dressing)
- In a mixing bowl, mix the shallots, vinegar, molasses, salt and pepper. Allow to macerate for a few minutes. Stir in the olive oil.
- Add the greens and toss. Taste and adjust seasonings.
- Add half the pistachios, pomegranate and goat cheese and lightly toss. Transfer to a serving platter and add remaining ingredients on top.
“You don’t win friends with salad.” – Homer Simpson
If Marge Simpson had today’s salad recipe, I think Homer would have more friends.
…and then, she paused for thought
Hope you have enjoyed our adventure in the culinary classroom. Join us each week as we continue learning new culinary skills.