Tag Archives: Greens

The Cure and a Recipe for Spinach Salad with Warm Balsamic Vinaigrette

Charucutepalooza #11: The Cure – Air Dried Pork Tenderloin

I knew the mini-bar had a purpose. There is a funky mini-bar downstairs in our home which serves no use except to take up space – that is until now. This month’s Charcutepalooza challenge is curing (which is another way of saying hanging and drying) a whole piece of meat. The trick is to hang the meat in an environment which maintains a steady temperature and humidity level. The professionals might use a curing chamber which will do all of this in a sleek, shiny, high tech manner. For us newbies we must rely on a basement, garage, wine cellar, and lots of faith tempered with caution. Of course, it would be helpful if we actually had a basement or wine cellar, or that the mild California climate would guarantee a steady cool temperature.

Enter the mini-bar fridge, which sits quietly forgotten, occasionally stocked with an overflow of party beverages, but usually empty. After reading a post by Michael Ruhlman, I realized that this appliance associated with my college dorm room could, in fact, house my meat. All I had to do was clean it and turn it to its warmest setting, and suddenly our clunky relic from the previous owner’s jacuzzi parties morphed into a handy dandy meat curing chamber.

Since I had no idea how any of this would turn out, and mindful that I might possibly produce results that could sicken my family, I decided to keep it very simple and cured two pork tenderloins. The process took all of 3 weeks, with no hands on attention except to remember to check it. My husband gamely offered to taste the finished results, and loved them, affirming – once again – that Charcutepalooza is making him one happy meat eating camper.

The meat is delicious to eat as is, but I also love to add dried ham to pizzas, pasta, eggs and salads. It’s salty, chewy texture gives just the right oomph to this winter spinach salad.

Wilted Spinach Salad with Warm Balsamic Vinaigrette, Toasted Pinenuts and Cured Pork

The warm balsamic dressing will lightly wilt the spinach greens as they are tossed. If you don’t have any air dried pork, oven dried prosciutto is an excellent and easily accessible alternative. Serves 4-6.

3/4 pound baby spinach, washed and dried
1 large shallot, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, slightly smashed
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup cured pork or oven dried prosciutto (see below), broken in pieces
1/4 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted

Place spinach and shallot in a large bowl. Combine garlic, vinegar and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Cook until vinegar is reduced by half. Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice, salt and pepper. Slowly add oil in a steady stream, whisking constantly to emulsify. Remove and discard garlic clove. Pour half of the warm dressing over the spinach. Toss to combine. Add more dressing to taste. Divide salad among individual plates. Scatter pork and pine nuts over the salad. Serve immediately.

To oven dry prosciutto:
Preheat oven to 350 F. Place 8 slices of prosciutto on a baking tray in one layer. Bake in oven 15 minutes. Turn off oven; do not remove prosciutto. Let it sit in oven 15 more minutes. Remove and break into shards.

What is Charcutepalooza?
An inspirational idea hatched by Cathy Barrow and Kim Foster and partnering with Food52 and Punk Domestics. It celebrates a Year in Meat, where participating foodies and bloggers will cure, smoke and salt their way through Michael Ruhlman’s bestselling cookbook Charcuterie.

Winter Greens Salad with Cranberries and Pistachios

As much as I like a warming winter stew, I also appreciate a fresh winter salad. In fact, they both go well together.  The crisp bitter greens are a nice palate cleanser and contrast to a rich, meaty stew. I made this salad the other night with a mix of seasonal greens: mizuna, arugula, beet greens and chicory. Feel free to tinker with the combination, depending on what’s in the fridge and market, but keep in mind a variety of leaves and colors for a pretty presentation. Dried cranberries and pistachios add chewy, crunchy substance to the greens as well as a touch of sweetness and salt. I happened to spot baby rainbow carrots at the farmers market that day, and tossed a few in for extra color and texture. Don’t throw out the carrot tops. If they are bright and fresh, they can join the greens.

Winter Greens Salad with Cranberries and Pistachios
Serves 4-6

8 cups mixed winter greens, such as frisée, arugula, mustard, beet greens, chicory, mizuna
2-3 baby carrots, green tops reserved, peeled and thinly sliced on the diagonal
1 handful fresh flat leaf parsley and/or cilantro sprigs
2 tablespoons dried cranberries
2 tablespoons shelled pistachios

Apple Cider Vinaigrette (recipe below)

Wash and dry the salad leaves. Place in a large bowl. Coarsely chop carrot greens if using. Scatter carrot greens,  carrots, parsley, cranberries and pistachios over the leaves. Pour dressing over salad and toss to combine. Serve immediately.

Apple Cider Vinaigrette:
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 small shallot, minced
1 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

Prepare vinaigrette. Combine vinegar, shallot, mustard, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Whisk in oil in a steady stream to emulsify.

Bruschetta with Spring Greens, Lemon and Ricotta Salata

Spring Salad Bruschetta

The elemental salad – often viewed as a dish for dieters, luncheons, and side dishes and, yet, capable of so much more. Here is an example of how one simple salad that makes use of spring’s freshest greens, herbs and vegetables, can be elevated simply by arrangement. A tousle of baby arugula, mint and parsley is heaped on a thick slice of garlic-rubbed peasant bread. Crumbled ricotta salata and lemon zest are scattered over the greens creating a vibrant and snazzy topping to the bruschetta. Versatile and seasonal, this salad is not to be underestimated.

Bruschetta with Spring Greens, Lemon and Ricotta Salata
Serves 6

4 cups baby arugula leaves, washed
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
1/2 cup Italian parsley leaves
1 small bunch fresh chives, chopped
1 cup thinly sliced radishes
1 cup shelled English peas, blanched

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for brushing
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

6 slices peasant or sourdough bread, about 3/4 inch thick
1-2 garlic cloves, peeled, lightly crushed
1/2 cup shaved Ricotta Salata
1-2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest

Combine arugula, mint, parsley, chives, radishes and peas in a large bowl. Whisk 1/3 cup olive oil, lemon juice, honey, sea salt and pepper together in a small bowl. Pour 2/3 of the dressing over the greens. Gently toss with hands to combine.

Rub bread slices with garlic cloves.  Brush lightly with extra-virgin olive oil.  Grill in oven or on griddle pan until toasted and golden brown, turning once.  Arrange bread slices on individual plates or platter. Top with salad. Garnish with ricotta salata, lemon zest and freshly ground black pepper. Drizzle with remaining dressing.

Fall Market Salad: Figs and Greens with Honey Vinaigrette

Fall Market

This autumnal salad is insired by the fall palette on display at Sundays Farmer’s Market.

Figs and Greens with Blue Cheese and Walnuts
Serves 6

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons honey
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 small garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup (80 ml.) extra-virgin olive oil

8 cups mixed greens such as arugula, oak leaf, mâche
1 cup purple basil leaves
One medium fennel bulb with fronds, tips and end removed, thinly sliced
6 purple figs, quartered
1/2 cup halved walnuts
6 oz. (175 g.) blue cheese such as Roquefort or Forme d’Ambert, cut in 1″ pieces

Whisk red wine vinegar, honey, mustard, garlic, salt and pepper together in a small bowl.  Slowly whisk in olive oil in steady stream to emulsify.

Combine greens, basil and fennel in a large bowl.  Pour half the vinaigrette over, tossing with hands to combine well.  Arrange greens on serving plates.  Top with figs, walnuts and blue cheese.  Drizzle with remaining vinaigrette to taste.  Serve with baguette or pain paysan.