The salad days of sum­mer

The Register Citizen (Torrington, CT) - - FOOD - STEPHEN FRIES Cook­ing ques­tions? Send them to Stephen Fries, pro­fes­sor and co­or­di­na­tor of the Hos­pi­tal­ity Man­age­ment Pro­grams at Gate­way Com­mu­nity Col­lege, at gw-stephen.fries@gwcc.comm­net.edu or Dept. FC, Gate­way Com­mu­nity Col­lege, 20 Church St., New Hav

Many of us en­joy eat­ing a salad, es­pe­cially on a hot, hu­mid day. How do you de­fine a salad? Cae­sar, Wal­dorf, potato, tuna, pasta?

Some con­sider it as rab­bit food, which re­calls how sal­ads were pre­pared back in the day — ice­berg let­tuce, a slice of onion and cu­cum­ber, a wedge of tomato, some shred­ded car­rots, and per­haps an olive or two. To­day, many restau­rants, es­pe­cially fast-food restau­rants, serve this type of ba­sic gar­den salad.

In years past, salad was an ap­pe­tizer or side dish, with lit­tle cre­ativ­ity in its prepa­ra­tion. Re­mem­ber the sal­ads that in­cluded cubes of gelatin?

Fast-for­ward and salad has be­come cen­ter stage of the meal us­ing a va­ri­ety of greens.

Pep­pery arugula seems to be pop­u­lar. Wa­ter­cress, bok choy, en­dive, kale and a va­ri­ety of let­tuces have usurped plain old ice­berg let­tuce.

Fruits, both fresh and dried, heir­loom veg­eta­bles — roast­ing adds great fla­vor — seeds, beans, grains, nuts, meats, fish, cheese and eas­ily made dress­ings are part of the in­gre­di­ent reper­toire.

Sal­ads are a time-lim­ited cook’s se­cret weapon for putting a health­ful meal on the table.

Sal­ads of­fer end­less pos­si­bil­i­ties; go to your lo­cal farm­ers mar­ket and in­tro­duce your­self to some un­fa­mil­iar greens and veg­eta­bles. Ask the farmer for some sug­ges­tions, too.

With some cre­ativ­ity, a sim­ple, easy to pre­pare dish be­comes an an­tic­i­pated lunch or din­ner. Care­ful with salad dress­ings, as some can sneak in ex­tra calo­ries. It is easy to make your own dress­ing, so you can con­trol the in­gre­di­ents.

Nearly a decade ago, I met Wi­ley Mullins, au­thor of “Salad Makes the Meal.” His book in­spired me to add more din­ner and lunch sal­ads to my diet.

A new cook­book, “Salad Feasts: How to As­sem­ble the Per­fect Meal,” by Jes­sica El­liott Den­ni­son (2018, Hardie Grant Books, $24.99) of­fers the tools to cre­ate heart­friendly, fla­vor-packed, hot and cold sal­ads in­tended to be the star of the meal.

She of­fers tips on pick­ing the lead­ing-role veg­eta­bles, choos­ing some­thing in­ter­est­ing and un­ex­pected to add con­trast, plus adding crunch and tex­ture and the right dress­ing.

She di­vides prep time by chap­ter — “Quick Assem­bly” (10-20 min­utes); “A Bit More Time” (25-45 min­utes) — and menus fo­cused on sea­sons and re­gional cuisines. Each recipe in­cludes in­gre­di­ent sub­sti­tu­tions.

Don’t worry if you don’t have chick­peas, sub­sti­tute can­nellini beans. No spelt? Sub­sti­tute bar­ley, farro or cous­cous.

With the easy-to-as­sem­ble-an­dadapt recipes, you will have the skills to cre­ate sub­stan­tial meals.

For the recipe for Av­o­cado and Co­conut Noo­dles with Edamame beans, lime and gin­ger, visit bit.ly/2Kld­vWj.

Fig, radicchio and hal­loumi with basil oil and pis­ta­chios

The head­note says, “When you can get your hands on per­fectly ripe, in-sea­son figs, it’s only right to en­joy them very sim­ply, with a few ad­di­tional in­gre­di­ents on the plate work­ing to high­light their mag­nif­i­cence.

“Grated, nat­u­rally salty hal­loumi con­trasts with the figs’ sweet juices, while the toasted pis­ta­chios and greens bring some fresh crunch.

“A spoon­ful of the ridicu­lously easy basil oil brings the whole plate alive. This re­ally is no-fuss, sim­ple, sea­sonal eat­ing.” 2 ounces shelled pis­ta­chios

3 ½ ounces red but­ter­head (Bos­ton)

let­tuce

3 ½ ounces radicchio

1 serv­ing basil oil (recipe fol­lows) 8 ripe figs

6 ounces hal­loumi (grilling cheese) 4 slices sour­dough or rye bread Toast the pis­ta­chios in a dry fry­ing pan over a high heat for 1-2 min­utes to re­lease their nat­u­ral oils. Trans­fer to the cor­ner of your chop­ping board. Once cool, roughly chop.

Wash the let­tuce and radicchio in a basin of cold wa­ter to freshen and crisp the leaves, pat dry, then tear and put into a large mix­ing bowl. Pour half the basil oil over the let­tuce and radicchio, then, us­ing your hands, gen­tly toss to evenly coat. Trans­fer to a plat­ter.

To as­sem­ble, roughly tear the figs and place over the leaves. Us­ing the large side of a box grater, grate the hal­loumi over the leaves. Scat­ter the toasted chopped pis­ta­chios, then driz­zle the re­main­ing basil oil over the salad to fin­ish. Serve im­me­di­ately, us­ing the bread to mop up the herba­cious oil and fig juices.

To sub­sti­tute for the pis­ta­chios, use hazelnuts, wal­nuts, pecans, al­monds; for the Bos­ton let­tuce, use frisée, oak leaf let­tuce, ro­maine let­tuce; for the radicchio, use chicory (en­dive).

Basil oil

2 ounces ex­tra-vir­gin olive oil

1/3 gar­lic clove (op­tional) pinch of sea salt flakes large bunch (1 ounce )fresh basil,

in­clud­ing stalks juice of one-half lemon

Process all of the in­gre­di­ents in a food pro­ces­sor. Once you have a pourable con­sis­tency, have a taste; you may want to add more lemon juice. Store in a jar or air­tight con­tainer in the fridge for 3 to 4 days.

Or­ange-car­rot freekeh with cran­ber­ries and wal­nuts

7 ounces freekeh zest and juice of 1 or­ange

½ tea­spoon sea salt flakes

1 ½ ounces wal­nuts

5 car­rots peeled or 10 ½ ounces of

baby car­rots

1 ta­ble­spoon olive oil

¾ ounce fresh gin­ger, peeled and

finely grated

1 small bunch (¾ ounces) dill, leaves

only

1 ½ tea­spoons red wine or cider

vine­gar

1 ounce dried cran­ber­ries

Farik or freekeh is made from green du­rum wheat that is roasted and rubbed to cre­ate its fla­vor.

Place the freekeh in a medium pan. Top with three times the vol­ume of wa­ter, bring to boil and cook over a high heat un­til ten­der but still re­tain­ing some bite (check the packet in­struc­tions for ex­act cook­ing times, around 13-15 min­utes). Re­fresh un­der plenty of cold wa­ter, drain, then trans­fer to a large mix­ing bowl. Stir in the or­ange zest and salt.

While freekeh is cook­ing, toast the wal­nuts in a large fry­ing pan over a high heat for 1-2 min­utes un­til fra­grant and re­leas­ing their nat­u­ral oils. Trans­fer to a plate to cool. Slice the car­rots into ¾-inch thick coins on an an­gle. If us­ing baby car­rots, leave them whole. Heat the oil in the fry­ing pan then cook the car­rots for 2 min­utes un­til be­gin­ning to color at the edges. Pour in 4 ounces of wa­ter and the or­ange juice and gin­ger, and boil for 4-5 min­utes, or un­til the wa­ter has evap­o­rated into a sticky glaze. Re­move from the heat and set aside to cool slightly.

To as­sem­ble, finely chop the dill and wal­nuts, then toss with the freekeh along with the vine­gar and cran­ber­ries. Trans­fer to a large plat­ter then top with the sticky car­rots and glaze to fin­ish.

To sub­sti­tute for the freekeh, use brown rice, quinoa, pearl bar­ley; for the car­rots, use radishes or pre­cooked beets and for the cran­ber­ries, use golden raisins or sour cher­ries.

Des­per­ately seek­ing

Elana Keyes, of Guil­ford, wrote, “How do you sea­son a cast iron fry­ing pan? I’ve tried sev­eral dif­fer­ent meth­ods and to no avail; every­thing sticks. I’ve tries oil­ing the pans in the oven for an hour at 500 de­grees and in­vert­ing the pan. I’ve tried it on the top of the stove. Please help!

Does any­one have any sug­ges­tions for Elana? Please write to me with you sug­ges­tions.

Culi­nary cal­en­dar

Kids Cook­ing Camp — Lit­tle Italy: Through Aug. 10, 10 a.m.noon. Chef’s Em­po­rium, 449 Bos­ton Post Road, Or­ange, $200. Reser­va­tions 203-799-2665. Chil­dren (ages 5-11) A sim­i­lar class is of­fered for teens (12 years +) from 1-3 p.m. For in­for­ma­tion, visit https:// bit.ly/2LHwYVF.

Wines of Gali­cia: Aug. 8, 6:30 p.m., Bistro Basque, 13 River St., Mil­ford, Reser­va­tions 203-469-4218. 866-945-9708 $83. En­joy eight wines paired with small plates from the kitchen wiz­ardry of Bistro Basque.

Con­siglio’s Cook­ing Demon­stra­tion and Din­ner: Aug. 9 or Aug. 23, 6:30 p.m., Con­siglio’s Restau­rant, 165 Wooster St., New Haven, 203-865-4489 (reser­va­tions re­quired), $75 (bev­er­ages, tax and gra­tu­ity not in­cluded). Learn to make eggplant rol­la­tini, ca­vatelli with fresh pesto and sum­mer toma­toes, chicken Anna — wild mush­rooms, roasted red pep­pers, gor­gonzola sauce and Go­diva ti­ramisu.

Con­siglio’s Mur­der Mys­tery Din­ner: “Tem­per­a­tures and Tem­pers” Aug. 10, doors at 6 p.m., din­ner and show at 7, Con­siglio’s Restau­rant, 165 Wooster St., New Haven, reser­va­tions at 203-865-4489, http://bit.ly/2cyB02Y, $65 in­cludes din­ner and show (bev­er­ages, tax and gra­tu­ity not in­cluded).

Shore­line Wine Fes­ti­val: Aug. 11 (noon-7 p.m.), Aug. 12 (noon-6 p.m.), Bishop’s Or­chards Farm Mar­ket & Win­ery, 1355 Bos­ton Post Road, Guil­ford, 203-453-2338. Cel­e­brate fine wines from Con­necti­cut winer­ies and vine­yards. Pair with some of the area’s finest foods, with the back­drop set­ting of a farm or­chard and mu­sic. For tick­ets and de­tails visit https://bit.ly/2K0g­m6A.

44th an­nual Mil­ford Oys­ter Fes­ti­val: Aug. 18, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., down­town Mil­ford; 40,000 oys­ters (21 va­ri­eties from 8 states) and 6,000 clams from East Coast Shell­fish Grow­ers As­so­ci­a­tion. Food for pur­chase, craft beer and wine gar­den, oys­ter shuck­ing and eat­ing com­pe­ti­tions, chil­dren’s en­ter­tain­ment, schooner cruises and live mu­sic. For de­tails, visit mil­for­doys­ter­fes­ti­val.com.

Used with per­mis­sion from “Salad Feasts” by Jes­sica El­liott Den­ni­son, pub­lished by Hardie Grant Books July 2018

Fig, radicchio and hal­loumi with basil oil and pis­ta­chios.

Or­ange-car­rot freekeh with cran­ber­ries and wal­nuts.

“Salad Feasts” by Jes­sica El­liott Den­ni­son, pub­lished by Hardie Grant Books, July 2018.

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