Monday, December 28, 2009

CSA week four - A couple of compicated salads

I don't think it struck me until just now, after the fact, that this week's CSA share (the half-share at least) is better suited to salads than cooking. I thought it was just my slow recovery from various ills that making me not feel like cooking, but with grapefruit, curly parsley, avocado, green pepper and tomato, this is just a raw foods sort of week.

As these are salads, there isn't much to say or illustrate preparation-wise. Chop everything up, mix it together, make the dressing and toss. Not much too it. The aforementioned complication comes from the sheer number of ingredients in each of these dishes. I only made minor tweaks in each so with no further ado, here are the recipes:

Italian Parsley Salad

Adapted from “Roast Chicken and Other Stories” by Simon Hopkinson (Hyperion, 2007)

1/3 cup soft, fleshy black olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
1 bunch parsley, coarsely chopped
1 large shallot, chopped
1 ounce capers, rinsed of salt or brine
1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
7 large anchovy fillets, chopped

Freshly grated zest of 1 lemon
1/4 cup olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
juice of 1 lemon
salt, to taste [probably not a lot]

thin slivers of Parmesan cheese
crackers or biscuits or toast or bruschetta or suchlike

Mix the salad ingredients. Mix the dressing ingredients. Mix them together. Top with the Parmesan and serve with the crackers.

This has a pleasing combination of flavors that blend together in a pretty classic way and compliment the parsley while still letting it be the center of the salad. Both the texture and the somewhat less strident bitterness of flat-leaf parsley would work better; That's probably why the original recipe called for it. Still, it's still not bad with the curly parsley. The crackers are important in toning down the intensity of flavors, but it's still a bit much to eat on its own. It's better as a side dish to a straightforward piece of roasted meat, I think.

Avocado shrimp Thai salad

This is an unsigned recipe from Recipe4Living which is a community recipe website so there's no way to know where the recipe actually came from. No other versions of it online are immediately obvious so I can't track it down that way. They don't claim association with any old media source of recipes or have any chefs on staff either so far as I can see. I guess it'll have to remain a mystery unless one of their editors notices this post and wants to clear things up in the comments.

1 hass or lula avocado, peeled, pitted and cubed
1 fluid ounce lime juice
1/2 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined, poached and chopped if they're larger than 'large'
1 large meaty tomato, [whatever sort our CSA tomatoes are is perfect for this sort of thing] coarsely chopped
1 1/2 green onions, sliced lengthwise and separated into four pieces then chopped into 2-inch lengths
1/2 small green bell pepper, diced
1/2 small red bell pepper, diced
1/4 cup bean sprouts [I left these out as the grocery that usually has them didn't this week. They would have been a nice addition even in that small amount.]
1/8 cup mint leaves, coarsely chopped

1/4 cup lime juice [You can get this out of one lime if you rough it up a bit, microwave it for 20 seconds or so and then ream it out with a fork.]
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 cup vegetable oil [That's clearly way too much so I used only 1/3 cup which seemed to emulsify well with the amount of water-based ingredients.]
1/2 Tablespoon sesame oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 inch knob ginger, grated
1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
zest from 1/2 lime
1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes
salt to taste

Mix the salad ingredients. Mix the dressing ingredients. Mix them together. Serve.

Now this is pretty darn good. There are so many different flavors and textures going on in here that every forkful is a different combination. Each starts with the bite of the dressing, sesame and lime foremost, blending as the crunch, creaminess or chew of the ingredients releases their individual flavors. The tartness gets to be a bit much after a full serving, though. I think that's because there is way too much dressing here. I think halving the amount would probably balance things a little better.


LaDivaCucina said...

I hope your stomach is feeling better, Bill. I find that salads can be tougher on my tummy though, so hope the raw foods are easy for you to digest.

I think whomever called this salad Thai was really stretching it. Never had Dijon mustard in any Thai salad! But it sounds good anyway.

Gave you a shout out on my blog the other day, hope you have a Happy New Year!

billjac said...

It's just a little mustard to help emulsify the dressing. You can't really taste it.

Thanks for mentioning me on your blog. I do appreciate the appreciation.