Our Favorite Fall Salad

Our Favorite

When the fall weather turns cool and crisp and the days get shorter and darker, we sometimes slip into a blue mood.  We crave sunshine and brightness.   A crisp, balanced salad with tangy-sweet fall flavors is just what the doctor ordered!

We developed this salad to celebrate the the flavors and textures we love — crunchy and aromatic fennel — honey-sweet persimmons — juicy-tart pomegranate seeds — earthy walnuts — and velvety mâche leaves, all tied together with a bright and tangy vinaigrette.

Persimmon and Fennel Salad | Dear Martini

A composed salad is a salad in which each component is seasoned  and dressed individually and then artfully arranged.  It’s an excellent choice for a leisurely lunch.  Take it to the the next level with some grilled shrimp or soft dollops of goat cheese and it becomes a quick and easy dinner.

The Dear Martini method of building the composed salad is also mirrored in our Bite-Sized Technique videos:  you can actually watch a video for each component needed for this salad!  Click on the blue links to jump to each technique video — we promise you’ll learn something awesome!

 

Persimmon, Fennel, and Mâche Salad with White Balsamic Vinaigrette 

Serves 4

¼ cup white balsamic vinegar

½  teaspoon Dijon mustard

½ teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

1 teaspoon minced shallot

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

¾  cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 fuyu persimmons, peeled and sliced

½ fennel bulb and fronds, bulb thinly sliced and fronds chopped

4 cups mâche lettuce

¼ cup pomegranate seeds

1/3 cup toasted walnuts

To make the vinaigrette:  In a small bowl, whisk together vinegar, mustard, thyme, and shallot with a pinch of salt and pepper.  Slowly whisk in olive oil and continue whisking until dressing is emulsified. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.

Just before you are ready to serve, season and dress with vinaigrette each of the salad ingredients in separate bowls and then arrange on a platter or individual plates.

 

How to Make a Composed Salad recipe video thumbnail

 

Colcannon and Champ

Colcannon  and Champ:   Sounds like the name of a rock band or a law firm?  Think again!

Colcannon Recipe | Dear MartiniColcannon is a rustic country dish of potatoes, cabbage (or kale), green onions and sometimes leeks.  If you make the same mash using only potatoes and green onions then you have champ. In many Irish recipes white cabbage is always used, but we’ve substituted the white cabbage with Savoy cabbage because it is our favorite (And when you cook at your house you get choose your favorites too!).  The two things you cannot substitute are the butter and cream.  Of course, you can vary the amounts to make the dish lighter to your preferred tastes, but please:  always use the highest quality unsalted butter you can find… and the best cream available.

Simple and fresh ingredients are the key.

Simple and fresh ingredients are the key.

We were inspired to post this video and recipe after reading our dear friend Michael’s blog on colcannon.  We hope our version meets his standards!

As always, we bring these recipes to our blog with bite-sized technique videos you can find on our YouTube channel. Please click the ingredients in blue to see the videos!

Colcannon – Irish Mashed Potatoes and Cabbage

Serves 4 to 6

4 to 5 russet potatoes, peeled and quartered

1/4 cup kosher salt

1 stick unsalted butter

3 cups shredded Savoy cabbage (about 1/2 a head), white cabbage or kale

1 medium leek, white and light green parts thinly sliced

3 green onions, minced

1 cup heavy whipping cream

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Put potatoes in a pot large enough to hold them no more than 2 potatoes deep.  Cover the potatoes with at least an inch of cold water.  Add the salt, and bring just to a boil.  Reduce heat to a simmer.   Simmer potatoes until fork tender, about 20 minutes.

In a separate pan over medium-high heat melt 3 tablespoons butter and add the leeks.  Sauté leeks until they are tender, about 3 minutes.  Add the cabbage and sauté until wilted, about 3 minutes. Stir in the green onions and sauté 1 minute more.  Stir in the heavy cream and remove pan from the heat.  Set aside.

Drain potatoes in a colander.  Shake the colander to make sure the water has completely drained out. Return the potatoes to the hot pot and allow them to completely dry.  Potatoes will look crumbly and white around the edges.

Add the cream and cabbage mixture to the potatoes and mash with a potato masher until thick and creamy.  Season colcannon with salt and pepper.  Serve with a knob of butter melted in the center of your piping hot potatoes.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

How to Make Colcannon with Dear Martini

Panzanella Salad – Heirloom Tomato and Bread Salad

Ripe heirloom tomatoes make the best panzanella salad

Welcome to Tuscany!  Panzanella is a traditional Tuscan salad usually consisting mainly of stale bread and tomatoes.  We know it may seem strange to use stale bread, but this dish ingeniously takes advantage of rock-hard-day-old-bread, turning it into a tasty treat.  It’s also a great way to enjoy fresh vegetables – especially heirloom tomatoes which are abundant during the late summer months.

A variety of heirloom tomatoes and rustic loaf croutons make the best panzanella salad

For the bread, panzanella is made with a country-style loaf, like that found in Tuscany. Any rustic Italian loaf of bread from pugliese to ciabatta or even a French sweet baguette or batard (heresy!) will do as long as it’s at least one day old.   While the Tuscans claim it, you will find many variations of panzanella throughout central Italy with varying ingredients according to the region.   Every cook has her version of it. We prefer to toast the bread before letting it soak in the vinaigrette, giving the bread a little more flavor and texture.   If the last weeks of summer are still too hot to fire up the oven, consider leaving the bread out to dry in the sun for a couple of hours.  It’s a lovely entrée salad that requires no cooking!

Heirloom Tomato Basket

When choosing tomatoes, heirloom or otherwise, pick tomatoes that have vibrant color and are a bit soft.  Large, firm, heavy tomatoes tend to have lots of water in them and therefore lack intense tomato flavors.  Dry farmed or older, softer tomatoes tend to have less water and more flavor.

With the best of summer ingredients, hearty bread, and homemade vinaigrette,  panzanella is a delicious way to celebrate late-summer flavors!  Watch our short little video on how we made panzanella right on our front lawn… and while you’re at it, hit the hotlinks we’ve given you in the recipe below to watch our other cooking technique videos!

Panzanella – Heirloom Tomato and Bread Salad

Serves 6 to 8

Break out your best extra virgin olive oil to really make all of the simple flavors in this dish shine!

1 day-old rustic loaf , cut into 1-inch cubes

1 clove garlic, peeled and minced

1 small shallot, minced

4 tablespoons red wine vinegar

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 ripe heirloom tomatoes, sliced, diced and or cut into wedges

1/2 cup ripe cherry tomatoes, sliced in half lengthwise

½ bunch basil leaves, torn into pieces

½ red onion, lyonnaise

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Make the croutons by arranging the bread cubes in a single layer on a sheet pan and lightly toast the bread in the preheated oven for 10 minutes.  Remove from the oven, sprinkle with a pinch of kosher salt and half a pinch of ground black pepper.  Set aside to cool.

In a jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine the garlic, shallot, vinegar, olive oil and a pinch each of salt and pepper.  Screw the lid on tightly and shake vigorously to combine.  Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, toss the dressing together with the bread, tomatoes, basil and red onions.  Refrigerate the salad for 20 minutes for the flavors to develop.  Serve cold or at room temperature.

Want to get creative?  While not traditional, try adding any one (or all ) of these ingredients:

Panzanella Salad is a delicious idea for dinner when it's too darn hot to turn on the stove!

Thank you!

Thank you

Tale of Two Salads

If all you are required to bring to your hosts’ house for Thanksgiving this year is a salad to add to the menu, consider preparing one of these beautiful versions that celebrate the most amazing flavors fall has to offer.

One serves as a hearty first-course salad; the other a nice palate-cleanser.

Remember this great vinaigrette video?  It certainly comes in handy for these salads!

*Be sure to hit the blue links to see the helpful videos we’ve made to guide you through the recipe.  As always, subscribe to our YouTube channel!

Spinach with Warm Bacon Vinaigrette

Serves 4 to 6

4 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

½ teaspoon stone-ground mustard

¼ teaspoon minced shallot

¼ cup white balsamic vinegar

¼ teaspoon thyme leaves, chopped

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 Granny Smith Apple, diced

1 cup walnut halves, toasted

¼ cup dried cranberries

4 cups baby spinach leaves, washed and spun dry

¼ cup crumbled bleu cheese

Cook the bacon:  In a medium skillet over medium flame, cook the bacon until crispy.  Transfer the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels and set aside.

Make the vinaigrette:  Pour as much of the bacon grease into a clean glass measuring cup and add additional olive oil to make up ¾ cup.  Set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together the mustard, shallot, vinegar and thyme.  Add a pinch of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Pour the oil mixture in a thin, steady stream as you whisk the vinegar mixture together.  Alternatively, you can add all of the ingredients into a jar and shake vigorously.

Assemble the salad: In a large bowl, toss together the bacon, diced apple, walnuts, dried cranberries and spinach with a drizzle of the vinaigrette. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

Divide the salad evenly among the serving plates and top with the bleu cheese.

Frisee with Orange and Pomegranate and Hazelnut Vinaigrette

Serves 4 to 6

¼ cup sherry vinegar

½ teaspoon Dijon mustard

½ teaspoon minced shallot

¼ teaspoon minced thyme leaves

Kosher salt and freshy ground black pepper

½ cup hazelnut oil

¼ cup vegetable oil

1 head frisee lettuce, trimmed

2 navel oranges, segmented

½ cup pomegranate seeds

½ cup hazelnuts, toasted and skinned

Make the vinaigrette:  In a mixing bowl, combine the vinegar, mustard, shallot, thyme and salt and pepper.  Mix together until smooth.  In a slow, steady stream, pour in the oils while whisking constantly until the vinaigrette is thickened.  Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the frisee, orange segments and half the pomegranate seeds.  Toss with ¼ cup of the dressing and salt and pepper.  Evenly divide the salad among the serving plates and top with the remaining pomegranate seeds and the hazelnuts.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sautéed Greens

Everything but the kitchen sink . . . La Cucina literally translates as ”the kitchen” in Italian.  It is also used in the Marche region as the colloquial name for a dish of mixed sautéed greens that includes whatever you have on hand.  This sautéing method works well for a wide variety of hearty greens.  The dish works best if you use a combination of mild and bitter greens.  Mild varieties include: beet greens, chard, kale, cabbage, and spinach.  Bitter varieties include: chicory, dandelion, and mustard.

Dinosaur Kale, or Tuscan Kale grows in abundance locally here.  The lush, dark green, bumpy leaves are super-nutritious: a cup provides more than 100% of the daily value of vitamins K and A, and 88%of the DV for vitamin C. Like other members of the cruciferous family (cabbage, collards and Brussels sprouts), kale is a rich source of organosulfur compounds that have been linked to cancer prevention.  Lucky for us, it’s easy to grow in our climate and can be found everywhere — green grocers, farmers markets and supermarket stores.  We like to pair this dish with a side garlicky beans for a satisfying, comforting supper.

*Be sure to hit the blue links to see the helpful videos we’ve made to guide you through the recipe.  As always, check us out on Vimeo or subscribe to our YouTube channel!

La Cucina — Sautéed Greens

Serves 4

1-1/4 pounds mixed leafy greens (such as Dino Kale or chard), washed

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

3 cloves garlic, peeled, and finely minced

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (or to taste!)

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Lemon wedges, for garnish

If the greens have thick hardy stems, remove the stems and slice the stems in ½-inch slices and the greens in 1-inch slices (place stems and greens in separate bowls.)

Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat and add the stems only. The stems will take the longest to cook, putting them in the pan first will ensure they are ready at the same time the leaves are.  Season with salt and pepper and cook covered for 5 minutes.  Add the leaves, as many as you can fit at a time, and turn them gently to wilt.  Continue adding greens and turning them over until you have added all the leaves.  Season leaves with salt and pepper and add the garlic and red pepper flakes and sauté for 3 minutes.  Add a couple of tablespoons of water, and cook covered for 10 minutes or until the liquid is gone and the greens are fully cooked.

Eat your leafy greens!

The Nicoise Salad

The Nicoise Salad.

Ahi tuna Nicoise Salad

There is so much going on it might look like it’s got everything but the kitchen sink; but break that down and examine what it’s offering:  soft, sweet greens…  a meaty tuna steak (pure protein)… ripe cherry tomatoes (nature’s candy, at the peak of their season, it’s a little red garden kiss)… crunchy green beans… soft, satisfying potatoes that soak up the vinaigrette… vinegary fruity olives… creamy hard-cooked eggs… all pulled together with a vinaigrette made with the best olive oil you can afford.  This is the Salad of all salads, folks.  It’s the best of everything — all on one plate.

At the risk of making you think I’ve gone over the deep end, I believe Aristotle might have had the Nicoise Salad in mind when he said, “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”  It’s a marriage of the best quality ingredients and execution of technique.  If ever you wanted to improve your cooking skills, make this salad a few times this month.  Each component for this salad requires a technique.  The better you are at mastering each technique, the more amazing this salad becomes. And the best part of using this salad to practice your skills:  you get to eat your efforts!  Rip open a crusty baguette and open a bottle of wine (a dry rosé would be perfect, by the way).  Think of us when you do.  Cheers!

Nicoise Salad

Serves 2

  • prepare each ingredient separately and keep chilled in the fridge, then assemble the salad as described below in the instructions
  • We have provided a technique video for each of the components of this salad.  The complete video portfolio can be viewed on Vimeo:  http://vimeopro.com/dearmartini/nicoise-salad

½ cup vinaigrette, recipe follows

2 large handfuls of salad greens, washed and spun dry (we prefer baby romaine)

4 hard boiled eggs, chilled and peeled

1 cup haricots vert, blanched and chilled

6 small potatoes, boiled and chilled (red or Yukon Gold)

1 cup ripe cherry tomtatoes, halved

¼ cup Nicoise or Kalamata olives, pitted

1 (8-ounce) sashimi-grade Ahi tuna steak, seared and rested

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

A.  Prepare the salad components:

  1. Place a large serving dish or platter in your fridge to chill.
  2. Make a batch of vinaigrette and set aside.
  3. Prepare the salad greens keep covered in the fridge with a damp paper towel.
  4. Make the hard-cooked eggs.  Peel and chill them.
  5. Trim and blanch the haricots vert.  Drain from the ice bath and keep chilled.
  6. Boil the potatoes and toss in a separate bowl with salt, pepper and 2 tablespoons of vinaigrette.  Set aside.
  7. Halve the cherry tomatoes and set aside.
  8. To sear the tuna, heat a stainless steel pan over high flame.  As the pan is heating, generously season both sides of the tuna with salt and pepper. The pan will be heated properly when water beads as it’s sprinkled into the pan.  Let the water evaporate from the pan before adding the oil.  Drizzle in 2 tablespoons of grapeseed oil and place the tuna on the pan to sear one side for 45 seconds.  Carefully lift the tuna and flip to the other side and sear for another 45 seconds on the other side.  Immediately remove the tuna from the pan onto a plate and tent with foil for 10 minutes.

B.  Assemble the salad:

  • in this composition, the sliced tuna steak will take center stage.  The rest of the components will surround the tuna around the edges of the platter.
  • Use the same bowl to toss each separate component with vinaigrette.
  1. Lightly toss the salad greens with salt, pepper and vinaigrette and arrange on the platter.
  2. Peel the hard-cooked eggs.  Cut them in half and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Lightly drizzle with a teaspoon of vinaigrette.  Arrange them on the platter.
  3. Cut the potatoes in half and toss with more vinaigrette.  Arrange them on the platter.
  4. Toss the haricots vert with salt, pepper and vinaigrette.  Arrange them on the platter.
  5. Toss the cherry tomatoes with vinaigrette and arrange them on the platter.
  6. Arrange the olives on the platter.
  7. Slice the tuna in ¼-inch slices across the grain and arrange in the center of the platter.
  8. Drizzle some more vinaigrette over the top of the salad and sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper.
  9. Serve immediately.

C.  Vinaigrette for Nicoise Salad — ah yes, remember this one?

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/44209569″>Vinaigrette</a&gt; from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/dearmartini”>Dear Martini</a> on <a href=”http://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

Makes 1 cup

¼ cup Champagne vinegar

½ teaspoon Dijon or stone-ground mustard

generous pinch kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon minced shallot

2 teaspoons minced parsley

¾ cup extra virgin olive oil

Add all of the ingredients into a clean jar (preferably one that is 12 – 16 ounces in capacity).  Make sure the lid is on tight and shake to combine.  Keep in the fridge until you are ready to use.

ALL ABOUT ASPARAGUS

We’ve all got our favorite ways to use asparagus — steamed,  sautéed, blanched, sliced, in soups, in risottos, chilled in salads, with aioli, with lemon zest, in an omelet, tossed in pasta, dipped in tempura batter and fried…

…but my hands-down favorite is:  Flash-roasted!

If you didn’t already love asparagus because it’s delicious, get ready to love it even more for what it can do for you!  Asparagus is low in calories… about 20 calories for a 3-ounce serving. Despite its low cal reputation, asparagus packs a huge punch in the nutrient-density department:  it’s a good source of vitamins A, B6, C, E, K, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folic acid, iron, potassium and chromium.  Not to mention it’s a great source for dietary fiber!

At the market, choose your asparagus carefully.  Asparagus is usually sold in one-pound bunches.  Make sure you select the stalks that are straight, smooth and bright green with tight, compact bud tips (mushy tips mean trouble – they’ve been sitting around too long).  Remember, the fresher the asparagus, the more nutrients it still has to offer.  Also, avoid the really thick stalks.  You might think you’re getting more value for your money by buying a bigger size, but in this case, the smaller, the better.  We prefer stems that are pencil thin to dime-sized in diameter.  Thicker stems can be tough, woody and bitter.

Two Asparagus Recipes

Blanched and Sauteed Asparagus w Lemon Zest

(serves 2)

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound asparagus, trimmed and blanched
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • generous pinch kosher salt
  • generous pinch freshly ground black pepper
  • zest of one lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon white balsamic vinegar

Directions:

In a medium-sized saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium flame and add the blanched asparagus.  Saute until the asparagus is heated through, about 5 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.  Turn off the heat and toss in the lemon zest and vinegar.  Serve immediately or chilled.

Flash-Roasted Asparagus

(serves 2)

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound asparagus, trimmed
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • generous pinch kosher salt
  • generous pinch freshly ground black pepper

Special Equipment:

  • Baking sheet lined with aluminum foil
  • Oven mitts

Directions:

Preheat the oven and a foil-lined baking sheet to 500℉ for about 30 minutes.  It’s best if the oven is ROCKET HOT before you begin preparing the asparagus.

Toss the asparagus in a bowl with the olive oil salt and pepper.

When the oven is sufficiently hot enough to sizzle even the smallest drop of water on the baking sheet, quickly toss the seasoned asparagus onto the baking sheet and close the oven door.  ROAST FOR 3 minutes (or until the smoke starts to set off your smoke detector.)

With the oven mitts, remove the baking sheet from the oven and roll the asparagus around.  Return to the oven and roast for another 2-4 minuts, or until the asparagus is tender.

Serve immediately.

This flash-roasting technique is great for when you’re pressed for time but still want something beautifully-cooked and delicious to go with dinner.  And this method is also great to use on green beans, baby Brussels Sprouts, radishes, zucchini and eggplants!

Salad Days

Salad days are here!  Sometimes we fall into a rut during the winter months and serve the same boring salad over and over – how about you?  Here is my newest salad inspiration – thanks to a basket of perfectly ripe juicy summer blueberries that weren’t going to last until morning – what to do with them before they went south?  Salad!

Blueberry & Pickled Red Onion Salad

Serves 4

  • 1 cup fresh blueberries, washed
  • 1/3 cup pickled red onions (see recipe below)
  • 5 to 6 handfuls of your favorite summer greens, washed and spun dry
  • ¼ cup vinaigrette (I added parsley & thyme to mine)
  • Kosher salt and finely ground black pepper

Toss greens and blueberries in separate bowls with just enough vinaigrette to coat.  Season greens with salt and pepper to taste.  Mound greens on individual plates and sprinkle with berries and a mound of pickled red onions.

Salad Notes

Greens

Delicate greens need a little special attention especially after making the trip home in a warm car.  Don’t just throw them in the fridge…. For best results when you get home place the greens in a bowl of ice water to wash and then dry in batches in a salad spinner.  Lay the leaves out on paper towels and then roll up the paper towels and place in a plastic bag.  Refrigerate until ready to use.  When you take the greens out they will be cool, crispy, and DRY.   (soggy salads suck!)

Hate making too much salad?  I usually plan on a handful (approximately 1 cup) of greens per person plus 1 or 2 extra for the bowl – the perfect amount every time.

And, don’t forget to season the greens.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper as you toss in the vinaigrette.  Taste and adjust as needed.

Fruit

Tired of tomatoes?  Some people think it is a little weird to add fruit to green salads but the combination of sweet and tart is perfect.  Blueberries, strawberries, and melons are great additions to a summer salad.

Pickled Onions

I don’t usually like raw onions in salads, but I love pickled onions. They are great anywhere you would use raw onions… especially hamburgers and hot dogs.   Super easy to make (don’t tell anyone) AND they make you look like a culinary rock star.  The same method can be used to quick pickle cherries (yum!)  See recipe below.

Vinaigrette

Don’t over dress!  It seems like it always takes less vinaigrette than you think to give a salad a nice light coating.  Add a couple of tablespoons, toss, add more vinaigrette if needed.  Remember the longer the greens sit after being dressed, the more they will be weighed down by the vinaigrette.  Always toss just before serving.

Chilled Plates

Okay, I admit it,  I’m a freak for a chilled plate.  Chilled plates are optional –but always a pleasant surprise.

WHAT’S FOR DINNER?

Looking for a quick and easy answer to dinner?  Our English pea soup looks like spring… fresh, light green, and sweet.  The secret is in the blanching.  Blanching and shocking lock in the vibrant green color giving the soup its appealing color (no drab olive green here!)

Garden Pea Soup

Garden Pea Soup

Yield: 4 servings

Delicious on it’s own as a cold starter to a meal. Serve hot in a larger bowl and you have a light dinner with your favorite artisan bread and a salad.  

INGREDIENTS:

PREPARATION:

Pulse the peas, stock, zest, and almond butter in a blender until smooth.  With the blender running, pour in the olive oil  through the hole in the top.  Pour oil in a steady stream until blended.  Season with salt and pepper and refrigerate. Serve soup cold or heat soup over low heat just until hot (can be done in the microwave.)  Garnish with mint and serve.

Cook’s Notes: 

English peas, aka garden peas, aka shelling peas, are best eaten soon after picking.  For optimum results, purchase peas no more than 2-3 days before you plan to cook them as they start to loose their tenderness and sweetness quickly as their sugars turn to starch leaving you with bland starchy peas.  If you can’t find peas at the Farmer’s market you can substitute organic frozen peas (not quite as good, but pretty darn good in a pinch — shhhhhhh, don’t tell anyone I told you.)

Oh, and what’s with the almond butter?  We’ve added a little almond butter to enhance the sweetness in the peas, add a subtle nuttiness, and up the protein.  If you don’t have it, don’t like it, don’t add it!

Remember, when working with our recipes on the blog, simply hit the blue hyperlinks in the recipe to see the associated technique video. It’s our way of guiding you through the recipe. Alternatively, you can view our Vimeo Portfolio, where all of the pea-related videos are bundled: http://vimeopro.com/dearmartini/peas-please