Saturday, January 31, 2009

Mandoline and Matchstick Salads

Lately, my salads have been all about slices and strips.

Heart of the City market by Jen MaiserA recent market report segment on KCRW's Good Food got me started. They talked with Evan Funke (no relation to Tobias F√ľnke, as far as I know) of the Rustic Canyon in Santa Monica. He suggested making a salad of thin slices of fennel, apple and fuyu persimmon (the firm kind -- ripe hachiya are essentially impossible to slice) in a Meyer lemon vinaigrette.  Unfortunately, I was weeks behind on my Good Food podcasts, so by the time I heard the interview, persimmon season was almost over. I managed to get a few from Kaki Farm and gave it a try. The salad was good, but diminished by over the hill persimmons. Next year, when the items make their  simultaneous appearance, this will be high on my list.

Then, an article in the soon to be relocated San Francisco Chronicle food section about large Asian radishes (like daikon) inspired me to try some salads with daikon and Asian pear.  The first one was matchsticks of daikon and Asian pear and strips of radicchio in a lemon dressing.  The second was matchsticks of daikon radish and apple pear along with napa cabbage in dressing of lemon zest, a dash of sesame oil, a splash of soy sauce, some neutral oil and ginger-infused-rice vinegar (i.e., I soaked grated ginger in rice vinegar for an hour then strained out the solids). I usually don't like daikon, but these two treatments changed my mind (temporarily). The interesting texture, sweetness and tartness of the Asian pear made an excellent partner for the slightly bitter vegetables in each salad. The ginger-infused vinegar is worth another try too, perhaps with a much longer infusing time or some strips of lemon zest added for another flavor.

Finally, I had some extra fennel in the refrigerator last week, so I went for one of my favorites, a salad of thinly sliced fennel, mushrooms, and parmesan in a lemon dressing. Essentially, you slice a bulb of fennel as thinly as possible, slice a handful of white mushrooms somewhat less thinly, and toss them with a dressing made of lemon juice, salt, lemon zest, mashed garlic, and crushed fennel seeds. Let that marinate for a little while, then, just before serving, shave a generous amount of good Parmesan on top and season with salt and pepper.  (A recipe is in The Greens Cookbook if you want detailed instructions)

Photo of persimmons from Jen Maiser's flickr collection, subject to a Creative Commons License.

Random link from the archive: Snacks for the Ears
Technorati tags: vegetarian : Food

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