Friday, July 8, 2011

World's Fussiest Salad (But Worth It)

An alternative title for this particular salad might be something along the lines of Most Labor-Intensive Salad Ever. I won't lie. As I was making this, over the course of several hours on a lovely summer afternoon, with the birds chirping outside and a breeze rustling the trees, I grumbled. Had the salad not ended up meeting and surpassing my expectations with its deliciousness, I would still be grumbling. Instead, I woke up this morning with the self-satisfied complacency that can only come after successfully crafting a complicated salad. It's a very rewarding experience. And if you have, say, three or four hours to spend on it, give it a try. This recipe makes a very large salad. We took ours to a Flamenque barbecue with lots of people, and we aren't sad to have a little left over for lunch today. There are three parts to this recipe: 1) The salad itself, the vinaigrette, and the spiced walnuts. You can really make them in any order, but do allow time for the walnuts to cool before adding them to the salad. It's also important to let the salad soak in the vinaigrette for a while before serving. It makes it just that much more delicious.

World's Fussiest Salad (But Worth It)

1 bunch curly kale--sliced thinly
1/2 head red cabbage--sliced thinly
1 red pepper--julienne (bust out those knife skills!)
1 cup cooked and cooled wild rice
1 mango--diced
1 pint strawberries--sliced

First, blanch the kale. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, then remove from heat. Add kale to the water for a minute or two. The amount of time the kale needs to spend in the water depends entirely on the tenderness of the leaves. If the kale gods were smiling down on you when you selected that particular bunch, the kale may need only a quick dip in the water to soften it slightly and brighten it to that lovely shade of green. If the kale gods were off smiling down on someone else while you were selecting your bunch, the leaves may need to stay in rather longer. Just check the leaves frequently. When they reach the desired level of tenderness, dump them into a colander and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking. Allow the kale to cool a bit, then combine kale, cabbage, red pepper, rice, mango and strawberries in a large bowl and toss to combine.

Citrusy Garlic Vinaigrette

1 head garlic--roasted
2 valencia oranges
1 lemon
1/3 c olive oil
pinch salt
1 t whole black peppercorns

Squeeze roasted garlic into a blender. Yes, the whole head. Don't be such a wimp. Press the juice out of the lemon and oranges and add that to the blender. Add salt. Puree until smooth. With the blender running, add the olive oil in a thin stream. Toss in peppercorns and blend again. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary.

Spiced Walnuts

2 T vegan margarine
1 t chili powder
1 1/2 c whole raw walnuts

In a small frying pan, melt margarine. Add chili powder and stir well to combine. Add walnuts and stir to coat. Toast on low heat until walnuts start to brown. Cool thoroughly.

Pour vinaigrette over the assembled salad and let it sit for 30 minutes to an hour. Before serving, sprinkle liberally with spiced walnuts.


Melody said...

I am so trying this.

Jessica said...

Me too, but I need to make one change. I am allergic to walnuts (yes, only walnuts it's weird). Any other suggested nut?

Marla said...

You could definitely use something else. I think pecans would be super good, or you could go way outside the box and use pepitas. If I used almonds, I'd probably chop them up a bit before spicing them, but that's a personal preference. Let me know how it works out!