salads


That black squiggle in my previous post was hiding another Smitten Kitchen delight: a cool, refreshing mango slaw.

Black squiggle, we meet again.

It was utterly lovely all by itself, but with the Thai-inspired chicken, it was divine. Additionally, I’ll confess that as I’m learning to grill, I’m appreciating, perhaps for the first time, how nice it is to assemble a dish while not swathed in smoke and sweating out your eyeballs.

I recently learned from Bon Appetit that “the main difference between salad and slaw is a perfect julienne.” I was too lazy for either the perfect hand-cut julienne or hunting for my mandoline, so I suppose technically my version is more of a salad. Oops.

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I am on the record as liking wacky desserts. My tastes are far tamer, though, when it comes to leafy green salads. For the most part, when I want a salad, I just go down to Mixt Greens and order a predetermined salad right off the menu—I don’t even bother picking my own ingredients, since I figure they know what they’re doing. And I have no objection to ordering the same boring salad just about every time. When it comes to salads, I’m okay with boring. It’s various kinds of leaves and chopped vegetables. This is not exciting stuff.

But I have now met a very strange salad that might change all that. It starts with spinach and chickpeas and feta—nothing so odd there—but then it veers into bizarre territory with smoked paprika? quinoa? MINT?!?

WTF salad

It’s weird, to be sure, but it mostly* works.

I’m so charmed by it that I may turn into one of those people who create such bizarre concoctions at the salad bar that the staff thinks they’ve misheard you, because no sane person could want those things together. In other words, my taste in salads may be starting to mirror my taste in desserts.

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My mother is from Savannah, Georgia, and every now and then, if I’m very lucky, we get to go visit and stay at the beach on Tybee Island. Until recently, my main reasons for enjoying Tybee have been (1) family, and (2) the beach. But on my most recent trip, I was introduced to a third reason: an incredible shrimp salad from the dinky little local market.  The market seems like a terrible place to buy meat or produce, but they clearly know what they’re doing with seafood. I’m pretty sure I single-handedly consumed about a pound of this stuff in less than 48 hours.

It's not at the beach, but it will do.

And I paid careful attention to the ingredient list on the empty container, because I had every intention of replicating this salad as soon as humanly possible. You should do the same.

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Several years back, I went to Ecuador with two friends (one of whom was the lovely Grow Cook Brew). I left with a newfound appreciation of piranhas, boobies, the power of altitude to make you ill, and the power of citric acid to cook fish into delicious ceviche.

I made ceviche tonight, for the first time. It was delicious. But I won’t write about it here until I can confirm that it hasn’t made me sick.

Instead, I’m going to write about this salad, which I intended as a vaguely Andean accompaniment to the ceviche but which is fantastic all by itself. Even if it’s not as alchemical as citrus turning raw fish into ceviche, at least I can be fairly certain that it won’t make you sick.

Hola, quinoa!

I will update this post if there’s a salmonella outbreak in cans of hearts of palm.

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At the moment, I’m not very good at cooking meat. I hope that practice will make perfect, so I’m cooking a lot of steak. (There are worse things.) So I’m not going to say anything about how to cook the beef for this salad; it’s possible that mine was, um, a tad overdone.

HOWEVER.

The rest of the salad is awesome. It’s light and zingy and totally satisfying as a quick (low-heat!) summer meal. In the future I might try adding additional vegetal matter to beef (heh) it up a bit—maybe julienned mangoes or jicama. Any ideas?

There's the beef!

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