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Jul 27, 2017

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Salads With Guts
by Toby Puttock
Magazine Issue: U.S. Vol. 6.1

images by Guy Lavoipierre

Let the truth be known. I don’t groove on the salads on most restaurant menus. I find them either fussy and overdone or lacking a bit of love. You should be able to eat a salad as a meal, not just as some wussy side order. Iceberg with vinaigrette and a lone slice of cuke? What fresh hell is that?

So I’m gonna let you in on some of my favorite real-meal-deal salads. They pack a punch and make for perfect grazing on warm summer nights when a hot meal is way too much.

HOT SUMMER NIGHTS CHEF’S SALAD

The heat in the kitchen can get ridiculous during the summer months, and eating is the last thing you want to do when the temperature exceeds what any human should have to endure. So grab a glass o’ frosty and have at some light sustenance.

WHAT YOU NEED
(serves two, main course)

3 good handfuls of arugula
8 basil leaves, torn in half
8 cilantro leaves, torn in half
3 roma tomatoes, quartered
4 slices of bacon
6 bocconcini (or chunks of fresh buffalo mozzarella)
6 anchovies
1 small ciabatta roll
Extra virgin olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
Parmesan shavings
Salt and cracked pepper

WHAT TO DO

Step 1: Grill the bacon, preferably on a barbecue to get a nice smoky flavor. When the bacon has cooked, slice it finely.

Step 2: Tear the bread into bite-sized pieces and place on an oiled tray in an oven pre-heated to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Leave it there until it’s crisp.

Step 3: Tear the bocconcini in half and place in a large bowl. Add all the remaining ingredients and dress with a splash of balsamic vinegar and a good drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Now season it, scatter the parmesan shavings over the top and serve immediately.

VEGETABLES WRAPPED IN RADICCHIO WITH HONEY AND BALSAMIC

East meets West has nothing to do with this dish, so don’t go calling it fusion. It’s simply a mish mash of some dishes I’ve learned over the years. The whole veggies and radicchio thang was something I used to prepare while cooking in Italy.

WHAT YOU NEED
(serves two, main course)

Sesame oil
1 t finely chopped ginger 4 large radicchio leaves
1 medium carrot, peeled and sliced julienne
1 green onion, sliced julienne
1 stalk of celery, sliced julienne
1/4 fennel bulb, finely sliced
4 mint leaves
8 cilantro leaves
1 small red chili, de-seeded and sliced julienne
1 T choice honey
1 t English mustard
A splash of balsamic vinegar
5 oz. olive oil
Salt and cracked pepper

WHAT TO DO

Step 1: Plunge the radicchio leaves into salted boiling water for about 30 seconds, remove from the water with a spoon and place in iced water to stop the cooking process. When the leaves are no longer hot, remove from the water and place flat on a towel.

Step 2: Heat the sesame oil in a wok or frying pan and gently saute the ginger for about one minute. Add the carrot, celery, green onion, fennel and chili. As soon as the vegetables start to wilt, add the mint and half the cilantro and remove from the heat.

Step 3: Divide the vegetable mix into four equal little mounds and place them in the middle of each radicchio leaf. Carefully roll the radicchio leaves to encase the vegetables (as you would a California roll).

Step 4: In a large bowl, mix together the mustard, balsamic, honey and olive oil. It may also need a little salt, so have a taste to find out.

Step 5: Place the radicchio rolls on plates, then drizzle a good amount of the dressing over the top. Finally, scatter the remaining cilantro over and serve it up.

BUFFALO MOZZARELLA, FIGS AND PROSCIUTTO

This will take you all of about two minutes to assemble. It’s one of those amazing flavor and texture combinations. Like many Italian dishes, the key to this dish is quality. Don’t bother with it if the figs are not perfect, or if the prosciutto isn’t sliced paper-thin. (Think Nigella, not pre-incarceration Martha.) The better your ingredients, the better the combination will be. And try to use a really woody olive oil.

WHAT YOU NEED
(serves two, main course)

2 large balls of buffalo mozzarella or fresh mozzarella
6 slices of absolute choice prosciutto
2 figs
A handful of arugula
6 basil leaves
Juice of half a lemon
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and cracked pepper

WHAT TO DO

Step 1: Toss the arugula and basil leaves with the lemon juice and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, salt and cracked pepper.

Step 2: Tear the mozzarella and the figs into halves and arrange evenly on the two plates. Arrange the arugula over and around the figs and mozzarella, and finally drape the prosciutto over the top. Finish with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

WINE FOR YOUR SALADS
by Matt Skinner

When I think of salads, I think of supermodels, bad breath and poor eating habits. I also think of dull and often expensive side dishes served with your favorite dishes. But most of all, when I think of salads, I think summer. And since hot weather makes your appetite fade a little, I’ll concede that salads, especially those with oomph, can often be a refreshing and simple alternative to the more traditional meal. (So maybe I’ll try thinking of more zaftig models. Mia Tyler?) The main thing to keep in mind when matching salads with wine is that, like the food, the wine needs to be refreshing. Pinot grigio/gris is my pick with both the Hot Summer Nights Chef’s Salad and the salad of mozzarella, fig and prosciutto because of its compatibility with many Mediterranean food styles. Characteristically, pinot grigio/gris smells of mineral and nuts and is backed up with plenty of restrained pear and apple fruit flavors. A cracking example displaying all these hallmarks is Oak Knoll 2003 Pinot Gris ($10). It’s the perfect summer whiteÑclean, simple, super refreshing and most importantly, great value. The vegetables wrapped in radicchio leaves presents a challenge. The trick is to find something that’s simple, yet fresh and racy, with a touch of sweetness. The Amity 2002 Dry GewŸrztraminer ($15) is my choice. Locally they do this variety better than most and, coupled with the fact that 2002 was a killer vintage, this wine is right on the money. Showing a fair bit of restraint, the wine is oozing with smells of lychee, orange blossom, ginger and spice, plus the palate is rich, but focused, with moderate acidity and great length.

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