I’ve always been someone who enjoys a great salad, so it should be no surprise that I’ve become quite comfortable working my way through Mark Bittman’s 101 Simple Salads for the Season. The 12-page print out is showing signs of wear with jottings of ingredients I’ve added, dates I prepared each that I’ve made, and stars to denote the direction I may next take. Oh, the possibilities. Of course, that would depend on the condition of the veggies I purchased when my eyes were bigger than my ability to follow through in an organized manner.
Let’s face it – mushrooms only last so long if one doesn’t push the idea that they prefer the open air to being wrapped in a plastic bag in the fridge. Or consider the Jerusalem artichokes that met an untimely demise because I didn’t have one of the ingredients I needed to make Salad No. 5. And then there was the jicama that had seen better days long before I cut into it, surprised that it’s possible to find jicama in San Diego in that condition. Perhaps salad No. 9 wasn’t meant to be on that particular day.
Honestly, I’ve grown to enjoy “The List” as it promises so much as long as I’m prepared, and goodness knows when it comes to food, I’m usually prepared. The salads are so easily made and adapted that reviewing a section prepares you for the shopping and if the ingredients are remotely connected to what Bittman suggests, then I say fair game and a salad is born.
This past Sunday, I enjoyed salads No. 14 and 26 respectively; one for lunch and the other shared for dinner with grilled beef. Each was so different, yet delicious, and that is what has kept me interested. You just never know when you may find the opportunity to pair fennel and prune plums again in your lifetime, right?
Bear with me as I continue this exploration of textures and flavors — baked goodies will always be on the horizon.
Bittman Salad No. 14: “A Classic Moroccan Thing”
Carrots, sliced or grated
Cumin seeds, toasted
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Fresh Lemon Juice
Pine nuts, toasted
Piloncillo (or brown sugar)
Slice thinly, or grate the carrots. Add the rest of the ingredients and toss lightly. Using a mold such as a galvanized cylinder or recycled food can with both ends removed, gently press the salad ingredients into the “stack” and then remove the mold. It’s a nice presentation for an interesting salad full of diverse textures and flavors. Make sure you taste the mixture before you place it in the mold.
- I’d like to try this with grated carrots. My Cuisinart slice the baby carrots I rescued from my veg bin a bit too thick. With grated carrots, there would be less to chew, but there are assets to chewing if that’s all that’s on your plate. Diet?
- On the raisins: I get it. Some people just don’t love what they add to a dish. I’m there when it comes to most savory dishes, but I grew up eating my mother’s Carrot Raisin salad and have to say the combo is wonderful. This is a completely different (and more healthy) spin, but so worth trying. Both raisins and carrots are sweet….go ahead. Try it.
- The cumin seeds are an acquired taste for some and a little goes a long way. If you’re not sure, then use ground cumin mixing it into the olive oil before mixing it into the rest of the ingredients.
- Piloncillo is a type of brown sugar found in Mexico or areas of the US situated near Mexico. It usually comes in cone form and is extremely hard so needs to be grated. If you’d like a sweet flavor added to this salad, use muscavado or brown sugar, but go lightly.
- I know that others may not appreciate cilantro. Try basil or even spinach. Either would work. It’s about finding a balance for yourself. Think of all that green.
- I had to add the pine nuts for the texture and flavor. Maybe it was the cilantro — who knows, but the combination was satisfying. I love pine nuts.
- On the Maldon salt — do a taste test and you’ll know. I use it on special dishes when I want to enjoy the effect the salt has on the food. Go ahead. Call me a food snob.
- A perfectly stacked fork makes all the difference in the world.
- Okay, so there IS my next Daring Bakers challenge coming up in a day or so….just think: all those carbs. Yes.