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Valentino Salad is a perfect starter for a romantic dinner, it’s a light earthy salad with roasted beets, strawberries, roquefort, sunflower seeds and arugula topped with an aged balsamic vinegar.Valentino Salad is a perfect starter for a romantic dinner, it's a light earthy salad with roasted beets, strawberries, roquefort, sunflower seeds and arugula topped with an aged balsamic vinegar.

Valentine Salad

If there is something I like about blogging recipes is to choose a name for my recipes. This one was a no brainer… just a quick look at it and it’s clearly a romantic looking salad and Valentine’s day is coming so Valentin0 Salad seemed appropriate. Since we are all having different eating habits and different partners… I’ve done 2 plating designs for this salad, one really light and modern with the beets being cut into squares and a minimalist presentation with just a few arugula leaves. I’ve used a balsamic cream to decorate the plate. The other version (see below) is a more everyday life salad, maybe a tad less esthetic but filled with arugula and a bigger portion with lots of aged balsamic vinegar. Also, I’ve added small pearled onions marinated in balsamic vinegar, those taste fantastic, almost like caramels. It’s a product you’ll find only in Italian delicacy shop and of course it’s optional. Both salad styles have the same ingredients, the plating is just a question of preference because in the end they both taste equally dreamy!

Valentine Salad

Romantic Roquefort

If you ask me “which cheese screams romance?” I’ll answer “roquefort” right away. Roquefort is in my opinion one of the sexiest cheese out there, I can not put exactly the finger on it though as to why… Maybe it’s because it’s a bold sharp flavored cheese just like passion is… or maybe it’s in its texture: creamy and soft or maybe the legend about how the cheese got discovered. A young shepherd boy eating his lunch in a cave in the South of France when suddenly he saw a young lady and just pursued her (not the creepy way hopefully…) and a few weeks later he came back and his cheese became blue from the special flora of the cave resulting into “Roquefort”.

The art of Salad

Valentine SaladI’ve done a post about the “art of making a salad” which is my own golden rules to an exquisite salad. I do have a “thing” for salads. As I was grew up, I would always be the one who makes the salad up until today, I go back home whether it’s at my parent’s or sister’s place, I’m always the one in charge of the salad. I like my “salad maker” title and it’s probably because I love them and it shows, but I also do believe salads are underrated… By definition a salad is a mix of ingredients, and to make sense of a “mix of ingredients” it isn’t always so simple. For this particular salad every single element is complementing the next; for example; beets are so earthy they need an acidic and salty element to counterbalance it so the balsamic vinegar and the salty roquefort is perfect for it. Roquefort as a sharp tang that can overwhelm but with the sweetness of the strawberry no worries here… arugula is bringing this light spicy touch and crunch to the dish… I could go on and on… sorry I’m a weirdo about salads… But in the end it’s all about having a general harmony which is what makes a salad stands out!

 


Valentino Salad

Makes 2 portions | Preparation: 10 minutes

IngredientsValentine Salad
  • 1 pre roasted beetroot
  • arugula 
  • strawberries
  • roquefort cheese
  • sunflower seeds
  • aged balsamic vinegar or cream
  • a tad of olive oil
  • *optional pearled onions in balsamic
  • salt and pepper
Directions
  1. Simply cut the beet in a square (modern way) and cut 3mm thick slices with the mandoline (keep the sides for later use)
  2. Add to the bottom of the plate the slices of beetroots
  3. Add the strawberries, arugula, sunflower seeds, *pearled onions and roquefort
  4. Drizzle with olive oil and aged balsamic vinegar
  5. Salt and pepper

 

Let the romantic dinner begin. Enjoy!

 

 

persimmon salad

Persimmon, Goat cheese, Walnut and Duck prosciutto Salad is a great fall appetizer, just in time for the Persimmon season. Those fruits are quite similar to tomato in looks, although firmer and drier, you can eat then raw, with or without the skin, dried or cooked. They are both, tomato and persimmon, considered a “berry” because of their morphology. Some type of Persimmons are sweeter, other more astringent, but their inside is always composed with a beautiful star form, when cut horizontally, making them perfect for a good looking salad bed. The persimmons should be still firm when you buy them, Hachiyas variety is a little longer then the Fuyu type which is more of a flat pumpkin shape. The Fuyu persimmon is the sweet one and you can easily eat it firm, while the Hachiyas (the long one) is best if you let it ripe a few days on the counter before consuming, to get rid off its astringency.persimmonsaladpin

persimmon saladThe other elements of this salad are a cured duck breast / duck prosciutto , walnuts, goat cheese and a spicy touch of red onion. In the center, I’ve added some juicy tomato and finish it up with a one of a kind balsamic vinegar and a touch of olive oil. I believe the flavours were spot on, although I do not usually add a protein (meat) to my salads, although in this case the duck prosciutto really helped to lift the sometimes too soft/sweet taste of the persimmons and also the goat cheese helped contrasting the persimmon.

For the dressing, I’ve used a really special old balsamic vinegar I found in Italy last summer. An aged in 3 differents types of wood essences vinegar which is sweet, thick and aromatic. So if you do not own an old balsamic vinegar you can also use a simple balsamic cream. The last but not the least touch is a freshly pressed, unfiltered olive oil, since it’s season in Spain (where I’m currently living). Simple and sweet dressing for a great mix of flavours underneath.

So let’s make this fall salad!


Persimmon, Goat cheese, Walnut and Duck Prosciutto Salad

Makes 2-4 portions | Preparation: 10 minutes | Difficulty: low

Ingredients
  • Salpersimmon saladad mix of your choice
  • 1 persimmon (ripe but still firm)
  • 1 tomato
  • 1/4 red onion
  • goat cheese
  • walnuts
  • Duck prosciutto (cured duck breast)
  • Old balsamic vinegar, or balsamic cream
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
Directions
  1. Peel and cut the persimmon with a mandoline or knife, the thinnest cut, horizontally
  2. Add the slices in circle in the bottom of a big plate
  3. Add the tomato in the center, then the salad and finish it up with the rest of the ingredients
  4. Drizzle with a good balsamic vinegar or cream, olive oil, salt and pepper

Enjoy!

persimmon salad (4).jpg

4 element saladThe 4 elements salad, as the title say; is a general rule to my salads; the dressing and it’s conception have the 4 elements, which is in my opinion makes the ultimate salads. The rule for the salad itself is; a nutty touch, a juicy touch, a colorful touch and, the last but not the least, a salty creamy smooth touch. In this case more precisely the color element is the crunchy yellow pepper, then the usual tomatoes for the juicy part , some walnuts to get those proteins and crunch factor, and a delicious herb crusted goat cheese for the creamy and salty end.

4 element saladThe dressing is also a “4 elements rule”, which are oil, vinegar, sweetener and emulsifier (mustard). With the “4 elements rule” you’ll never fail a salad dressing again. Often those supermarkets premade salad dressing aren’t an healthy choice, packed with sodium, too fatty or filled with stabilizers and additives of all kinds, which are related to Crohn disease and Colitis. Fat is necessary to absorb the nutrients from the veggies in the salad, some oils are healthier than others, of course, monounsaturated oils like extra-virgin olive oil or canola oil are the best options. Especially, olive oil is filled with heart protective attributes, and I believe the secret to longevity.

So let’s make this 4 elements salad!


4 elements salad rule

Ingredient
The dressing
  • 2 part of oil (olive oil or canola)
  • 1 part of vinegar of your choice (depending on the acidity level of the vinegar the quantities will change)
  • 1 part juice of your choice (orange, pineapple, apple,) or half a part of sweetener (maple syrup or honey)
  • 1 tsp of mustard of your choice (I always have 3 or 4 types of mustard in the fridge, my favorites are grains mustard and white wine mustard, but if your vinegar is super acidic then I suggest a sweet mustard to balance the acidity)
The salad
  • Lettuce of your choice (the base)
  • a colorful veggie element (yellow pepper in this case)
  • a juicy element (the tomatoes in this case but could be any fruits) 
  • a crunchy nutty element (in this case walnuts, could be simple sunflower seed, sesame, almonds, etc.)
  • a creamy, salty element (the cheese of your choice, in this case a herb crusted goat cheese)

So this is my secret to a successful, tasty salads, the 4 elements rule. Hope you’ll enjoy!

4 element salad

Asian SaladWhen you plan a nice light asian meal, this is a perfect appetizer to it. A salad with crunchy bean sprouts, basil, red onions, and a nice honey sesame dressing. As I said in a few post already, salads are just so fun to create. They tell the story of the meal to come, often I use some of my main meal ingredients to add to my salads, just to make a continuity. My husband and I, often, eat a salad as a starter, then a main meal, which is smaller since are filled with veggies already.

Asian SaladSalads and restaurant is a subject in which I’m a bit confused about…where I from… Canada, often you’ll see a minimum of at least 1 green salad in the appetizers. Here, in Spain, they don’t offer small version salad to start a meal, it’s only a big plate of salad which cost like a main meal. I think the formula to offer a small salad starter should be on every menu on earth. I love to start a meal with a fresh bite of vitamins. Then the more serious stuff can come; whether it’s meat, rice…

My dressing theory is that every dressing doesn’t need that crazy amount of oil, but then you add the juice of an orange or something sweet like honey, apple juice or maple syrup, vinegar and a touch of mustard to spice it up and emulsify it good and this is always the pattern I use for my salad dressing. In this dressing it differs a little bit, I’ve add some sesame oil, just a bit, since it’s a quite powerful oil. But the rest always stays the same: oil, vinegar, sweet element (juice or honey), a touch of mustard and voila!

The topping of the salad, I’ve add some black sesame seeds, which taste way less strong than the white ones.

So let’s make this asian salad!


Asian Salad

Makes medium size salad

Ingredients
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 1 cucumber
  • few bean sprouts
  • few thin slices of red onion
  • basil leaves
  • black sesame seeds
the dressing
  • 3 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1 tsp of grilled sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp of rice vinegar (or cider vinegar)
  • 1 tbsp of honey
  • 1/2 tsp of honey mustard (or any sweet mustard)
  • salt, pepper
Directions
  1. Mix all the dressing ingredients in a bowl and mix until emulsion
  2. Assemble the salad and pour the dressing over
  3. Top with a few black sesame seeds

Enjoy!

Figs and Goat cheese saladThis salad will make you want to forget all those other salads before this one. A simple combination that makes fireworks. Like in the Ratatouille movie, when the rat melt cheese on the mushroom with the help of a lightning bolt… Some ingredients are just much better coupled and this is a good example. A melted goat cheese on figs pieces, walnuts, cherry tomatoes with a honey dressing and an extra balsamic cream top make it extra special.

Figs and Goat cheese saladWhere I live, close by the Pyrenees mountain chain, they do some great goat cheeses! Although we don’t get to see them eating cheese in many dishes, they prefer the cheese by itself, as a Tapa or mostly to start a meal, contrary to finish a meal like in France. They do such a varieties of cow, sheep and goat cheeses and often make a mix of all those to make a single cheese.

I, on the other hand, love to mix up cheese with my salads, it’s my weakness… In this particular case, I’ve used a goat cheese from the Pyreneens. A light flavoured, soft kind, so you can easily replace it with the “goat cheese of your choice”.

It’s late june, the beginning of the figs season, down here in Spain. Those delicate fruits are delicious, they contain 80% of water and that is why, I slightly baked them before… to release some of that water out, and give the fig an extra kick of flavor. I know it’s not always easy to find those fruits… they are extremely fragile and don’t do well with long distance transportation. But if you are lucky enough to find some! Jump on them and try this salad. You’ll thank me later.

So let’s make this heavenly combination of vitamins!


Figs and Goat cheese salad

Makes 2 portions

Figs and Goat cheese saladIngredients
  • 4 fresh figs cut into 2
  • 4 thick slices of your favourite goat cheese
  • Romaine Lettuce
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Walnut
  • Balsamic vinegar cream
Salad dressing
  • 1/2 tbsp of honey
  • 5 tbsp of olive oil
  • 2 tbsp of sherry vinegar (or cider vinegar)
  • 1 tsp of white wine mustard (or your favorite kind)
  • salt, pepper
Directions
  1. In a bowl mix all the dressing ingredients and mix well
  2. Add the goat cheese on the figs and cook in the oven for just a 4 minutes at 180°C (350F) *optional
  3. Assemble the salad
  4. Top with the dressing, walnuts and the balsamic cream

Enjoy!

Figs and Goat cheese salad

beets and apricot saladBeetroot and apricot salad topped with fresh goat cheese and pistachios. The earthy beetroot is the perfect companion to the perfumed and sweet apricot, the goat cheese bring the salt element to the dish and the pistachios the crunch. In other word… a perfectly balanced and delicious salad.

beets and apricot saladMy mom showed me that recipe, the original was with raspberries and beets and I remembered at first being skeptical with the whole mix of goat cheese, beets, raspberries… But once you try it, you’ll make this salad for the rest of your life, guaranteed!

Like in most salads… it’s fairly simple to make. I like to slice with the mandoline thick slices of beets and add them to the bottom of a big plate, than you build the rest of the salad in the middle of it. We don’t eat only with our mouth…nose… but also the eyes.

As for the goat cheese…oh my… I’m a big fan of it. You would think… it’s whether you love or hate this cheese… but this isn’t true. I’m telling you, you can corrupt even the worst goat cheese hater with this salad, just don’t add too much at first… then it’s gonna be more and more each time. You’ll see, it’s a magic salad. I talk from experience here… I have one of those at home, and since I am a goat cheese lover and he isn’t… well, he says he isn’t, but he doesn’t complain when I do this salad with goat cheese.

So let’s get that perfect salad ready!


Beets, Goat Cheese and Apricot Salad

Makes 2 salads

beets and apricot saladIngredients
  • 1 pre cooked beetroot
  • 2 apricots
  • Lettuce of your choice
  • a few slices of fresh goat cheese
  • a few cherry tomatoes
  • a few pistachios
  • Balsamic cream *optional
Salad dressing
  • 4 tbsp of extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tbsp of balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp of white wine mustard or dijon
  • salt, pepper
Directions
  1. Cut the Beetroot with the mandoline in 5mm thick slices
  2. Add the slices to a big plate
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients in the center of the beetroot flower
  4. Make the salad dressing
  5. Pour over the center
  6. Add a little balsamic cream and pistachios on top *optional

Enjoy!

beets and apricot salad

Cesar Salad with Chicken and Capers

Caesar Salad with Chicken and Caperberries is an healthier version from the traditional one. It doesn’t contain as much sauce, nor too much olive oil. Also, I’ve cut on the bacon bits, back in Canada, some people could crucify me for this…sorry. And finally, I took off the anchovies, which I learned while researching for the recipe, was not in the original Caesar Salad. Actually the creator, Caesar Cardini, an Italian restaurateur living in San Diego and also working in Mexico, apparently didn’t like anchovies at all. So, this time, I’ve exchanged all those “side” ingredients and add caperberries instead.  It contrast perfectly the creamy dressing and give the salad that extra touchCesar Salad with Chicken and Capers of savory it needs, without saying… it’s way healthier than bacon…

Another fact about Caesar Salad, which I didn’t know is, that the original recipe contains Worcestershire sauce. Surprising to learn that; an Italian living in the USA, working in Mexico, add a British ingredient to his recipe… In our days not surprising at all actually, but back then, in 1924… it was a big deal, I believe. Worcestershire is a mix of umami, sweet, vinegar ingredients like tamarindo, anchovy, molasse, etc. I would say, it’s the secret ingredient for this dish and in many other recipes… (like my Bloody Mary recipe)

Let’s talk Capers… What usually people know as capers are those tiny dark pickled green balls, the tinyiest the best. But there is also, the Caperberries, which is simply the bud (caper) evolution into a flower bulb. The taste is quite similar, pickled also the same way, but it’s much bigger (olive size), slightly less salty and contains a tender flesh filled with mini seeds. Delicious stuff, and it fits perfectly to the Caesar Salad.

So let’s make that healthier and upgraded Caesar Salad!


Caesar Salad with Chicken and Caperberries

Makes 4 portions

Ingredients
The dressing
  • Cesar Salad with Chicken and Capers80ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard (I’ve use my favorite white wine mustard from Maille)
  • 1 tbsp of the capers juice
  • 1 garlic, cruched to paste
  • 30ml lemon juice
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 tsp of worcestershire sauce
  • salt, pepper
The bread crumbs (homemade)
  • 2 big slices of bread
  • 2 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1/2 garlic finely chopped
  • salt
The Salad
  • 2 chicken breast
  • 1 Romaine lettuce, cleaned and cut
  • few caperberries
  • few cherry tomatoes
  • few homemade croutons
  • 50g of grated parmesan cheese
Directions
  1. Start by making the garlic croutons, Mix all the ingredients in a bowl, add to baking container of your choice and grill until light brown, about 200°C (410F) for 10 minutes, turn mid-time
  2. When the bread crumbs are done, add the chicken to the oven at 180°C (350f) for 25 minutes, add a little oil, thyme, salt and pepper to it
  3. Now let’s do the Salad dressing, in a bowl or mortar, add the yolk, garlic and and lemon juice and crush the garlic into the yolk and lemon
  4. Add the dijon mustard, worcestershire sauce and capers juice and whisk good
  5. Add the olive oil really slowly, while whisking
  6. Add the salt and pepper, a good amount of pepper
  7. Wash the lettuce, cut the leaves and tomatoes, add to salad bowl
  8. Pour the dressing over the Romaine lettuce and mix well
  9. Add the croutons, caperberries, parmesan and chicken on top
  10. Finish it with a salt and pepper

Enjoy!

Cesar Salad with Chicken and Capers

Apple walnut salad

I have to confess… I am a salad freak… I love salads, and love to change them all the time. I’ll explain… I never do the same salad twice, I mean by definition a salad is a mix of ingredients, so I always mix it up. Sometimes I simply change a bit the dressing, or an ingredient, or the method (grilling stuff, pickle, etc). There is obviously those salad which are “traditional” which I wouldn’t dare to touch, like the caprese, greek, or russian salads. Those are set, but the rest of salads, it’s pure delight each time you find a new combination, then u add a little something to it like sunflower seeds or nuts… then maybe try it with a touch of cheese or fruit.

 
I Apple walnut saladlove salads that contains it all! A touch of fruit, nut and cheese is my top favorite combination for salads. But when you watch your calories, then you opt for a cheese free salad or if there is an avocado in it which is already fat then you cut on the oil and cheese… Anyways this one is a kind of classic salad, with a touch of all those magic ingredients (fruit, cheese and nut). I could have add an apple slice on a piece of bread, topped with the cheddar and toast it, then serve it on top as a cracker. It would have been a whole new salad although all the same ingredients. I love salads! They are fun to play with, perfect therapy for creative souls.

Ok let’s do this Apple salad!


Apple, Cheddar and Walnut Salad

Makes 4 portions

Ingredients
The salad
  • 1 bag of your favorite salad mix
  • 1 apple (slice last minute)
  • 20 cherry tomatoes
  • 10 walnuts
  • old cheddar 
  • onion sprouts *optional
The dressing
  • 5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tbsp of cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp of apple juice
  • 1 tsp of white wine mustard (or the a l’ancienne, or your favorite kind)
  • salt, pepper
Directions
  1. Add the salad, cherry tomatoes, cracked walnuts, to salad plates
  2. Mix up the ingredients for the dressing, mix good
  3. Slice the apple, add a squeeze of lime on them if you want to keep them white longer
  4. Add the apple slices to the salad
  5. Add the dressing to each salad
  6. Top with, shaved with the peeler, old cheddar and the onion sprouts

Enjoy!

Apple walnut salad

Coleslaw2

Vinegar coleslaw is the first salad I’ve ever loved and it’s so healthy, when no mayonnaise is used… There was that restaurant called St-Hubert in my hometown, when ordering, they would always ask you;” coleslaw creamy or traditional?” I would always take the “traditional one” which was more vinaigrette style.

IMG_1081Then I’ve met my husband, a guy from Munich. Also, where they do another spectacular coleslaw,”krautsalad”, they call it. Over There, they have a few variations, for example, sometimes they add few caraway seeds in it or a little chives and bacon bits. I didn’t really knew caraway seeds until I’ve tasted this “krautsalad” from Bavaria. It’s delicious. It gives the salad another dimension, such a small seed can make a huge difference. Although, totally optional, I highly recommend to add some caraway seeds to your coleslaw, you’ll see you’ll slay that party! Everyone will ask you for the secret ingredient.

The origin of this salad goes way back in time, they say it goes back to the Roman, Greek era, when the word “salad” wasn’t even invented… There is plenty of variations around the world, well today it’s gonna be the “Bavarian- Canadian” style.

Let’s get that mandoline ready!


Coleslaw (ultra tasty and healthy style)

Makes 6 portions (sidedish)

Ingredients
  • Coleslaw1/2 a big green cole cut into fine 2mm slices
  • 2-3 carrots, shredded
  • 1 onion finely cut into 2 mm slices *optional
  • 250ml (1 cup) of cider vinegar
  • 150ml apple juice
  • 50ml sunflower oil, or the oil you prefer
  • 50ml honey, maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp caraway seeds *optional
  • salt and pepper
Directions
  1. Cut all the veggies with the mandoline, both fine slices and grinded cuts
  2. Mix in a bowl the vinegar, apple juice, oil, and honey
  3. Add to dressing to the salad
  4. Add the caraway seed, salt (be generous) and pepper
  5. Mix well
  6. Leave in the fridge for a few hours (2 hours until 4 days), mix it mid time
  7. Serve

Serve next to a nice BBQ dish or chicken fingers. Enjoy!

Gravlax salad

Gravlax on a spinach salad is such a good mix! The crunchy texture of the spinach goes perfectly with the tender salmon and the sweet mustard dressing. If you do a Gravlax and you have leftovers and would like to eat it a different way maybe, try this salad.

This salmon is made with a simple dry marinade of equal parts salt and sugar with an extra dill, nothing more… There are many recipes out there, some add gin, lemon zest etc… you decide of the extras you’d like. The dish was made by fishGravlax  saladermen from the Middle age, in the northern part of Europe. They used to salt the salmon, they freshly caught, and then ditch them in the sand, by the sea, to ferment. Nowadays, we simply brine the salmon.

Just need to plan it ahead, because it takes a minimum of 24 hours to marinate. I usually do it in 48 hours, changing the side of the fish midway. The best part for it would be the less fatty part of the salmon, but in my case I got a fat part to test it and the result is simply that the salt doesn’t have time to travel through fast enough, so the texture is slightly softer. In both case though, it’s still delicious.

Let’s do this salad!


Gravlax on a Spinach salad

Ingredients
Salad
  • A bag of spinach
  • few thinly sliced onion
  • cherry tomatoes
  • salt, pepper
Gravlax
  • 350g salmon (can be 2 times 175g)
  • 300g white sugar
  • 300g salt
  • 4 tbsp dill (dry) *more if fresh
  • a little pepper
Sweet mustard and dill dressing
  • 3 tbsp dijon mustard (if possible: white wine dijon one)
  • 2 tbsp honey or maple syrup
  • 4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil (If you intend to do a salad dressing with it, add 2 tbsp)
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice, or cider, white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp of dry dill
Directions
  1. Wash you salmon and check if there is bones left, pat dry
  2. In a bowl, add the salt, sugar, dill and pepper, mix
  3. Add the salmon, skin side down, to a deep enough bowl, add the dry marinade
  4. Rub it on the salmon, then make sure half is on top of the fish.
  5. Wrap the whole plate up, many times, with plastic wrap
  6. Leave in thGravlaxe fridge for 48 hours, with pressure on it, like a pickle jar, and switch side after the first 24 hours.
  7. When ready, take the salmon out of the not so dry anymore marinade, rinse it quickly then pat dry
  8. Add the salmon, skin down, on a cutting board, and with a sharp knife, take the skin off
  9. Cut into small, thin slices
  10. Reserve your leftovers of salmon in the same marinade, to use for the next day
Sweet mustard and dill dressing
  1. Add all the ingredients to a bowl, mix it up
  2. Pour over the assembled salad

Enjoy with a few capers!