Sunday, December 9, 2007

Super Salads!

I have had a bit of a thing for salads of late, I always have a flurry of ideas around what combinations work together, but two salads I frequently fall back on are the good old classics, Caesar and Nicoise. The Caesar of course works fine at any time of the year, especially now that you can get Cos lettuce in a bag! The Nicoise is at its very best though when fresh green beans and new potatoes are in season and to be honest this is when it gets a bit of a thrashing in my house! Of course the Nicoise is classically done with seared fresh tuna, however cost and availability are barriers in my neck of the woods so I make do with everyday tinned. I don't like to admit it but I use the tuna canned in water rather than oil (even though I know the oil one tastes plenty better!), because it makes it so much more virtuous calorie wise!
I also don't necessarily make these salads in the classic 'purist' form. I do draw the line at adding in too many variations but from time to time I will muck around with it, like tonights Caesar was of the chicken variety! My dressing is the main thing that varies, depending on what I have around. I will happily substitute mustards (I adore whole grain, so that's what ends up getting used!) and throw in some fresh herbs if I have them. It keeps things interesting!
So the following 'recipes' are as usual a guide.
To me a Caesar has to have croutons, lettuce (pref Cos but not necessarily!), bacon, parmesan, and egg, be it soft boiled or poached. Then its about adding in things like chicken or prawns which I think both work well. I am not that strict on ratios or quantities, I think just tailor it to how many mouths you are feeding!
As for the dressing, I do always make sure there are anchovies in it because I can't bear them whole in the salad! But they totally make the dressing and I wouldn't bother making a Caesar without them! The dressing again depends on how big a salad you are making, but I made this one which is enough to dress a salad for 4:

3 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 c lemon juice
1/2 c olive oil
1 tbsp dijon mustard
4 anchovies
salt and freshly ground pepper

Whiz all ingredients up in blender/processor to get a thick dressing.
Assemble the lettuce etc, dress then top with poached or boiled egg.

My son has been obliviously eating my version with the anchovies in the dressing and loving it, he actually caught me putting them in the dressing last night and pronounced he would no longer be eating my Caesar salads! I did however convince him to try it again and he conceded that actually it wasn't bad at all! So it remains on the menu!

For the Nicoise the key ingredients are:

Tuna (fresh or tinned for the poor people!)
cooked new potatoes in bite size pieces
cooked fresh green beans
Nicoise olives (or plain old pitted black ones like I use!!!)
Boiled eggs, quartered
Red onion, thinly sliced (optional)
Capers or anchovies optional (again I put the anchovies in the dressing as it gives it great flavour!)
1/4 c red wine vinegar
1/4c extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp mustard
pinch sugar
fresh parsley or basil
Whiz together in food processor or blender.


Thistlemoon said...

I love salads because they can be so versatile and you can come up with thousands of combinations! Your salads sound wonderful!

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hungryandfrozen said...

Goodness you have been busy, Linda! Caesar salad is one of my favourites...yours look delish :)