elevating the status of the salad

Category Archives: salad, CSA, local, dressing,

Here’s another version of the classic Caprese salad. This one takes a little bit more prep work than the original post, and it’s a welcome variation because you can eat this one without a knife. Sometimes, the fewer utensils the better, especially when having to carry everything up and down a spiral staircase. This is a delicious side dish for a summer BBQ. To make it a hearty main dish, you can add couscous or quinoa and some toasted pine nuts.

The cherry tomatoes and basil came from my garden in the sky. I was pretty excited that I grew enough tomatoes to make a salad that fed 5 people!  

Thanks to The Curvy Carrot for this fantastic recipe.

 

Ingredients

  • 2 pints cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 medium shallot, minced (about three tablespoons)
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 and 1/2 cups fresh basil leaves, torn
  • 8 ounces of fresh mozzarella cheese, chopped into bite-size pieces
  • Sea salt and ground pepper, to taste

Directions:

1. Toss the tomatoes, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and the sugar in a medium bowl.  Set it aside and let stand on its own for 30 minutes.

2. Transfer the tomatoes to a salad spinner and spin them for a few seconds to remove the seeds and extra juice.  Make sure you conserve the juice.

3. Put the spun tomato juice/seeds through a fine strainer to reserve the juice and discard the seeds.

4.  Heat a medium saucepan over medium-low heat on the stove.

5.  Add 1/2 cup of the tomato liquid, the shallot, and vinegar to a simmer.  Let simmer until the mixture is reduced to about 3 tablespoons. (I didn;t have that much tomato liquid so I just let it simmer for a while and then decided it was done when I felt like it)

6. Transfer the mixture to a small bowl and cool to room temperature.

7. Whisk in the oil and salt and pepper to taste.

8.  Add the basil and the mozzarella to the tomatoes. Toss gently to combine.


Hooray for the CSA!

This sweet and spicy combination is also a combination of two CSAs.  (For my original post about the CSA, click here).For the past few years, I’ve been a member of Dumbo/Vinegar Hill’s CSA. I loved so many things about it: Sang Lee’s incredible organic vegetables, the serene location in Phoenix House’s courtyard, and the neighborhood friends I made while volunteering at weekly pick-ups. I also loved the convenience factor; the pick-up location was just a short and cobblestony walk along the river from my apartment. 

Within the last year, I moved a few neighborhoods away, so I knew I would have to switch. I did a little research to find CSAs near my new place (ok fine, so I just read a sign posted outside Stinky). I was intrigued by Local Roots’ slightly different model for CSAs: For example, instead of joining for June-November, the season is broken up into Summer and Fall. There are other differences as well. I also liked the idea of picking up at 61 Local, the locavore-friendly (where I once spotted a dog sipping her weekly Guinness, and was assured that she prefers stouts and only has one per week) bar/restaurant just off Smith Street. Their vegetables come from Rogowski Farm, located in Orange County, NY. We also signed up for a meat share, which will come from Arcadian Pastures. Some friends in the neighborhood also got their fruit share, and I hope to get a sampling of that as well 🙂

And so, although I felt a little bit like I was cheating on Sang Lee, I went ahead to pick up my first share of the season. The vegetables have been delicious so far. The spicy greens are, in fact, very spicy. This strawberry dressing is an interesting contrast. The dressing recipe is from Sang Lee’s recipe blog, so I think of this salad/dressing as a CSA merger. 

I used the spicy greens mix from the CSA share, and topped it with some goat cheese. I actually halved this dressing recipe and it was plenty for the week. Since I went a little overboard on strawberries from the farmer’s market a few weeks back, I had fun with canning and freezing a few quarts.

By the way…Do you know that to freeze strawberries you just chop off the tops, lay them on a baking sheet in a single layer with none touching overnight? Then, put in a freezer bag and they will stay good for up to 6 months)

I just let a cup of the frozen guys thaw for an hour or so before starting the recipe. 

Strawberry Dressing

Ingredients:

  • 1 pint strawberries, washed, hulled, and cut into quarters
  • 1 tablespoon sugar or honey (I used honey)
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons or more good vinegar — wine, sherry, rice, balsamic–preferred for this recipe (I used balsamic)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 6 pieces of mint, finely diced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Dice your strawberries and add the sugar and lemon juice to a small bowl. Muddle them together until somewhat liquid. In a blender, add all other ingredients(imersion blender/food processor work too).
  2. Then add the strawberry mixture and blend for a few minutes to immulsify everything and make the strawberries smooth.