Sunday, March 4, 2007

A Dinner-Worthy Salad

Ha. If only my former-chef ex-fiance could see me now. I guess he could, actually; I know he’s visited my other blog before. (Ahh, the power of statcounter.)

But that’s not really my point. My point is that my cooking has come a lonnng way since he and I were together. Then, I was the occasional baker, and he was the experimental cook. I even once found a tape of him interviewing someone for the local newspaper–for a column he briefly wrote–and telling her that I couldn’t really cook but that I was a great baker.

Of course, I’m still not skilled like he was, practically speaking. I don’t chop my vegetables efficiently and perfectly or anything like that. But I do have good kitchen utensils (I told him he couldn’t take the cats; I should have added he couldn’t take the expensive knives I paid for), and I’m willing and ready to experiment. I’m a lot more comfortable trying things out now than I used to be.

A few nights ago, I was planning on us having a big salad and some refrigerated soup from Whole Foods. It turned out the soup was sour–the 5th (FIFTH!) thing I’ve gotten from Whole Foods that’s turned out to be bad/rotten/moldy in the last couple of months. (Whole Foods, I am always recommending you guys, but I have a bone to pick with you. Seriously. Update: I actually just sent Whole Foods an email to complain.) So our salad had to get more elaborate–with some protein thrown in–to accommodate being the only food in the meal.

I chopped and threw together a mix of winter vegetables–a turnip, a rutabaga, some sweet potatoes, an onion–with a couple of peeled and chopped apples. I tossed those with a little high-quality fruity-tasting olive oil, some herbes de provence, and a smidge of salt. I roasted that mix at 400 for about 40 minutes, tossing them twice during cooking. It wouldn’t have hurt some of the veggies to roast a little longer.

I tore up some butter lettuce from our weekly CSA load and tossed it with my usual-these-days lemon salad dressing: shaken together well in a lidded jar–the juice of one Meyer lemon; three times as much olive oil as lemon juice; Mrs. Dash garlic-and-herbs seasoning; a bit of Lawry’s seasoning salt; and a teaspoon or so of honey.

I toasted a handful of walnut pieces in a dry pan on medium heat for 3-4 minutes, tossing them once. I set them aside.

Then I sliced a small log of goat cheese into ~1/2″ rounds. I beat an egg in a small bowl, and I poured some Italian-seasoned bread crumbs in another bowl. I covered a plate with waxed paper. I dipped the goat cheese slices in the egg wash and then in the bread crumbs to thoroughly coat them. I put the breaded goat cheese slices on the covered plate and put them in the refrigerator for 15 minutes. Then I heated up a small amount of olive oil on medium heat using the same pan I’d used for the walnuts, and I pan-fried the goat cheese for about 30-45 seconds on each side. I tossed the goat cheese on the salad, and we sat down to eat!

The salad was fantastic. The winter vegetables were slightly bitter and very aromatic from the herbes de provence. The apple bits provided small notes of sweetness. The goat cheese was easy to slice into warm gooey pieces, and the savory flavor of the cheese cut the bitterness of the vegetables. The slightly sweet, slightly sour flavor of the salad and dressing, and the saltiness of the toasted walnuts, were a nice foil to the rest. Delicious–and healthy.


1 comment:

totegirl said...

Mmmm...yummy! What a beautiful salad. I, too, love a gorgeous salad. My hubby's co-workers are always drooling over the salads I send with him for lunch!

I just had a spoiled food experience with my grocery store. I bought this big box of Chinese veggies and sprouts, and when I busted it open yesterday for a stir-fry, I realized everything was slimy. Damn!

And new knives are easy to come by, and a small price to pay to get to keep the kitties. My son's daddy got all the furniture, the stereo, and even the food processor I won at a company party, but I got the kid, so I win! And so did you!