Creatively adorned greens at the potluck table always catch my eye.
A few pieces of roughage on your plate can make you feel a bit less guilty about all of the traditional holiday foods you've dished up.
I hope you will enjoy eating these colourful salads with your eyes today and perhaps give one or two a try on your own...or ask me to bring one to a potluck. :-)
- 2 cups of fresh pear juice (500 ml or approximately 4 pears) [SunRype Peach Pear in 1.36L bottle]
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- 2 tablespoons cider vinegar (30 ml)
- 1/2 teaspoon of maple syrup (2 ml)
- 1/2 teaspoon of Dijon mustard (2 ml)
- 1/2 cup of canola oil (125 ml)
- A little water to thin, if necessary
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Heat pear juice on stovetop over medium heat to reduce to ¼ of its original amount, for 40 minutes, until caramelized. Set aside and let cool. [Get this step going before anything else as it takes quite a while to boil the juice down. I use a very small, heavy saucepan and boil it like crazy!]
- In a pan add olive oil and toast pine nuts on medium to high heat. Keep an eye on them because they tend to burn fast.
- In a bowl, mix the reduced pear juice, cider vinegar, maple syrup and Dijon mustard. Slowly add vegetable oil whisking constantly. Season with salt and pepper. Add a little more pear juice, or water if the vinaigrette is too thick. Set aside.
- 4 endives, trimmed
- 2 cups of red grapes, sliced in halves (500 ml)
- 2 pears, julienned
- 1/4 cup of pine nuts, toasted (60 ml)
- 1/2 cup of mimolette cheese, brunoised (100 g approximately) [we used applewood cheddar; Chuck suggests Gouda or Old Cheddar]
- 2 teaspoons of olive oil (10 ml)
- Place endives and grapes in a bowl, add vinaigrette and mix well. [I drizzled the vinaigrette over the top...I think I recall that I had almost double what I thought I needed...]
- Transfer salad mixture in serving bowls and garnish with pears, pine nuts and cheese. [As you can see in the photo, I serve it on a big platter sometimes, and have also plated it individually.]
- 1 box of mesclun / mixed baby greens a.k.a. mixed weeds (that's what Larry used to call them)
- 1 cup Mandarin orange sections packed in juice or fresh orange sections (they just look a bit shinier without the membrane on them)
- 1 cup of whole pecans
- 1/2 pomegranate or 1 cup fresh arils (already-seeded pomegranate)
- Kraft Mandarin Orange with Sesame dressing
- Heat a small skillet to medium; toast pecans in it for 5-10 minutes, stirring frequently, until fragrant and browned. Don't leave them alone for long!
- Remove seeds from pomegranate half, if using. Here is a link to a way to deseed the fruit without looking like you had a terrible knife accident.
- Set aside 1/3 cup orange sections, 1/3 cup of pomegranate seeds and 1/2 cup of pecans for garnish.
- In a large bowl, gently mix greens, remaining oranges, pecans, and pomegranate seeds, and dressing to desired amount of coating. Too much will make it really heavy; it's better to start with a little and keep adding until you're satisfied.
- Spoon salad out onto a large plate or serving bowl; garnish with reserved fruit and pecans.
- Quinoa: This is a fairly new grain to me. My hubby teases me about couscous and its friends (think back to Cannonball Run: "Too much couscous!"). We can find a reasonable assortment of them these days out here, not always in bulk, but small packages are better than no packages. The recipe suggested red quinoa, which I couldn't locate, and I think that brown variety contrasted nicely with the other ingredients' colours anyway.
- Walnuts: I hardly ever make recipes with these since I've had the unpleasant experience of tasting of rancid ones on too many occasions. Hope for the best; I was lucky to get a good package and they added a nice flavour contrast.
- Arugula: This spicy green was rarely seen in northeastern Alberta. I was excited to try it after hearing so much about it on the Food Network, but when we'd go to Edmonton and I'd order a salad with it, the restaurants had often run out of it! Thankfully, within the last year or so, I can find it almost every week in Bonnyville!
- Fennel: Fennel looks like the end of a bunch of celery, rounded, with slender stalks topped with dillweed. Do not fear it! I think most people just wash and slice the large bulb end like celery. The skinny parts of the stalk seemed to have a significantly more pronounced licorice taste than the larger ends.
- Sherry Vinegar: I had a very hard time finding this ingredient, but after a little searching on the 'Net, a mix of red drinking wine and balsamic vinegar was one of the suggestions and it seemed fine to me. (Since then, however, I did find some at the Cold Lake Sobey's!). The sherry vinegar has a more subtle flavour; if you prefer dressing with a bit more bang, go for the wine + balsamic combo.
It was deemed delicious by the whole family, even Mr. Couscous, and was definitely worth the game of Grocery Store Hide-and-Seek. The full recipe is located here. Thinking about the salad while mid-post writing motivated me to buy the ingredients yesterday. Guess what we had for lunch today? :-)
- You might want to mix just 2 tbsp / 30 mL of the olive oil vs. 2 tbsp of it with the sherry vinegar and S+P to make the dressing; I found it a little oily today.
- Also, the recipe called for 4 oz / 225g arugula which it listed as equivalent to about 3 cups. I found that the volume was double for that mass, so I put in about 4 cups / 1L of the greens.
*I have made it with and without peanuts and incorporated Wow! Butter (soy equivalent to peanut butter) which my friend purchased for me at Wal-Mart. I find the Wow! Butter has a slight taste of sesame but it goes very well with the other Asian flavours and give you some peace of mind that you won't accidentally harm someone with a nut allergy. A girl my daughter's age has such an allergy, and her mom was really happy when I told her before the potluck meal that the salad was nut-free and safe for their family to try!