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Thursday, May 19, 2011

Simple Summer Salads with the Assiniboine Park Conservancy and the MLCC

The other evening I had the pleasure of presenting Simple Summer Salads for the Assiniboine Park Conservancy at the Madison Square MLCC. Assiniboine Park Conservancy Education Coordinator, Bonnie Tulloch, presented on the plants represented in the dishes while MLCC Product Ambassador, Carol Herntier, created wonderful pairings for each dish.

Reception beverage: Smirnoff Blueberry and Lemonade Cooler ($2.49)
Chef's note: Not sweet at all!

1. Proper Turkish/Greek Salad
Paired with: Chateau Mas Neuf Rose - France ($15.95)

2-3 ripe tomatoes
1 English Cucumber
1-2 red peppers (or green peppers)
½ red onion, thinly sliced
1 cup good feta, rinsed, cubed or crumbled (available at DeLuca's)
Good black olives, to personal taste

3:1 good olive oil to red wine vinegar (For Turkish salad use fresh lemon juice)
1 tsp dried oregano
salt and pepper to taste
Optional: 1 clove minced garlic

Lay out vegetables attractively on a platter or toss all together in a large bowl. Add good feta cheese and drizzle vinaigrette over vegetables or toss together. Can be made in advance and chilled.


Please note: This salad does NOT include lettuce. Traditionally, these salads never do. Today I will be making it with Lemon juice, the Turkish style.

2. Toenail of a dog - Köpeğoğlu
Paired with Boutari Naoussa Grande Reserve - Greece ($19.99) and Chimay Strong Ale - Belgium ($4.25)

1 globe eggplant
1 red pepper
1 leek
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbs olive oil
1/3 cup tahini
1 cup yoghurt
1 tbs dried oregano
Salt and pepper

Wash the eggplant and prick all over with a fork. Drizzle oil over eggplant, whole pepper and the white of the leek. Roast in a hot BBQ, turning occasionally. Remove eggplant when soft. Remove red pepper when blackened and leek when soft and caramelized. Cube eggplant with skin on. Peel blackened skin off of pepper and chop. Slice leek into thin rounds. Mix all ingredients together and chill until serving. Serve with French bread or a baguette.


3. Easy Quinoa Salad
Paired with township 7 7 Blanc - BC ($19.99)

Serves 6

3 cups cooked Quinoa (cook ahead in a 2:1 water: Quinoa ratio)
Juice of 2 lemons
3 tbs olive oil
1 rounded tsp ground cumin (toasted makes it quite nice as well but could be an optional ingredient, depending on tastes)
1 cup cooked black beans (or your favourite such as pinto, black eyed beans, etc.)
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
½ cup chopped roasted red pepper
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved or quartered
½ cup sliced almonds, toasted (you can use pine nuts but they are very pricey right now)
¼ - ½ cup chopped green or black olives (Deluca’s has some lovely olives, just avoid the watery canned olives)I left these whole as some people don't enjoy olives.
¼ cup chopped fresh mint
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro, aka coriander

While quinoa is cooking, whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, cumin, salt and sugar into a vinaigrette in a small bowl.

Combine quinoa and all remaining ingredients, except fresh herbs, into a medium-sized bowl.

Drizzle with vinaigrette. Toss to combine.

Refrigerate for at least one hour to allow flavours to combine. Add fresh herbs just prior to serving. May be served at room temperature.


Options: try with Ras el Hanout, grilled eggplant, grilled zucchini, your favourite veggies. Also try cooking the quinoa with a Smen boullion. It gives it a buttery Moroccan flavour. Available at Halal Meats and Specialty Foods on Maryland.

4. Spinach Salad with warm Blue Cheese Dressing
Paired with Strongbow Cider - UK ($3.75) and Boone's Sangria - USA ($6.99)

1 1/2 lbs. spinach leaves, cleaned & trimmed
1 red onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 c. olive oil
3 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
2/3 c. light cream
4 oz. blue cheese, crumbled
3/4 c. coarsely chopped walnuts
1 cup sautéed sliced mushrooms

1. In large salad bowl combine the spinach and onion; chill. Sauté mushrooms and set aside.

2. Sauté the garlic in olive oil over moderate heat until soft.

3. Add vinegar and stir to blend. Bring to a simmer.

4. Whisk in cream, the sauce will split, bring to simmer at a very low heat. Whisk in cheese, continue stirring.

5. Pour sauce over spinach. Toss. Add walnuts and mushrooms. Serve. Makes 4 servings.

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