Cherry Rhubarb Caesar Salad

As the summer moves along, more fresh fruit becomes available every day. The two varieties of fruit that are particularly abundant are rhubarb and cherries. I usually make an easy compote of fresh fruit to have with my granola in the morning or to be used as a refrigerator jam on toast. It also makes for the perfect balancing edge to a twist on a Caesar Salad. Sharp, garlicky and smoky flavours pair perfectly with the sweet-tart interplay of cherries and rhubarb.

Cherry Rhubarb Caesar Salad

For the Cherry Rhubarb Caesar Dressing:

1 tsp Gold Forest Grains flax seeds, toasted until lightly golden
1/2 cup Maple Cherry Rhubarb Compote (*See Note)
2 tsp fresh garlic, peeled and chopped
1/2 tsp hot Hungarian paprika
1/2 cup Bles Wold plain yogurt
1/4 cup Mighty Trio Organics cold pressed canola oil

*Note: To make Maple Cherry Rhubarb Compote, bring 4 cups fresh chopped rhubarb, 4 cups halved and pitted fresh cherries, 1 cup maple syrup and 1/2 cup water to a simmer over medium high heat. Reduce heat to medium low and, uncovered, simmer for an hour, stirring occasionally. Makes about 5 cups of compote.

Grind the toasted flax seeds in a blender until ground into a fine powder. Add the compote, garlic, paprika, yogurt and oil and purée until smooth. Set aside.

For the salad:

6 cups Sparrow’s Nest Organics fresh arugula
2-15cm(6″) wheat flatbreads (or pitas), torn into rough 2cm/1″ pieces and toasted in an oven for 4-5 minutes
1/4 cup The Cheesiry young pecorino cheese, shredded
4 slices Sunshine Organic side bacon, fried until crisp, crumbled
Reserved Cherry Rhubarb Caesar Dressing

In a large bowl, add the dressing, arugula, toasted flatbread croutons, cheese and 3/4 of the crumbled, crispy bacon. Toss lightly with your fingers until the dressing lightly coats everything. Divide over 4 plates and garnish with the remaining 1/4 of the crumbled, crispy bacon. Serves 4.

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Grilled Spring Onion and Asparagus Chicken Salad Sandwich with Cherry Toasted Flax Tahini Dressing

When I first thought of doing a salad a day for the whole summer season, I knew that the traditional dressed green salad wasn’t the only direction I was going. Composed salads are only one variety in what can be referred to as a salad. I knew there would be an occasional sandwich in the mix since I’ve had chicken salad, egg salad, turkey salad sandwiches at one point or another. This is my first foray into the salad sandwich (and with 93 days of summer won’t be the last): a chicken salad sandwich with grilled vegetables and a mildly fruity dressing with a tahini made of toasted flax seeds instead of sesame.

Grilled Spring Onion & Asparagus Chicken Salad Sandwich with Cherry Toasted Flax Tahini Dressing

For the Toasted Flax Tahini:

4 tsp Gold Forest Grains flax seed
1/4 cup Mighty Trio Organics cold pressed canola oil
1/2 tsp salt

In a medium pan, toast the flax seeds over medium high heat for 2-3 minutes until lightly golden. If the seeds start to “pop,” cover with a lid and shake to toast evenly. Add the toasted flax to a blender. Grind to a fine powder. Add the oil and salt. Purée until the mixture is smooth. Set aside.

For the Cherry Toasted Flax Tahini Dressing:

1/4 cup Mighty Trio Organics cold pressed canola oil
1/4 cup roasted eggplant purée (roast a whole eggplant in a 190C/375F oven for 40-45 minutes until soft, then scoop out flesh and purée)
8-10 Sunbest Fruit Orchard fresh cherries, halved, pitted
Reserved Toasted Flax Tahini

In a blender or food processor, add the oil, eggplant purée, cherries and Toasted Flax Tahini. Purée until smooth.

For the salad:

2 cups finely minced cooked chicken
18 Edgar Farms asparagus spears (grilled 6-8 minutes)
4 Sparrows Nest Organics spring onions (split lengthwise, grilled 3-4 minutes)
Reserved Cherry Toasted Flax Tahini Dressing

In a medium bowl, combine the chicken, chopped asparagus, spring onions and dressing. Serve on a bed of greens if you don’t want it as a sandwich, otherwise spoon on to split whole wheat buns. Serves 3-4.

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Grilled Vegetable Ratatouille Salad

Every Saturday, since I was a kid, has been pizza night. It was one of the first things I learned to make. It teaches so many basic skills: dough, vegetable prep, baking, basic cooking. While putting together dough today, I was thinking of what to put on my pizza and had an abundance of great vegetables: eggplant, tomatoes, peppers, onions. I then looked at them and thought: That’s basically ratatouille ingredients. I like to grill my vegetables a lot so I thought I could assemble them into a hybrid of an antipasto and deconstructed ratatouille salad.

Grilled Vegetable Ratatouille Salad

1 medium Skyline Greenhouses eggplant, sliced into 1cm (1/2″) slices
2 Doef’s Greenhouses sweet banana peppers, cut into large pieces
2 Doef’s Greenhouses hot banana peppers, seeded, cut into large pieces
1 medium onion, peeled, thickly sliced
24 Doef’s Greenhouses cherry tomatoes, halved
5-6 Tbsp Mighty Trio Organics cold pressed canola oil
2 Tbsp Mighty Trio Organics cold pressed flax oil, to finish

Preheat a grill to medium high heat.
Drizzle all the sliced vegetables with canola oil, rubbing it in to coat completely. Grill all the vegetables until deeply golden in colour (grilling the tomatoes only on its cut side down). Slice the eggplant and peppers into strips. Cut the onions into rough chunks and halve the grilled cherry tomatoes. Scatter the grilled vegetables over 4 plates and drizzle each lightly with flax oil to serve. Serves 4.

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Pickled New Potato Salad

Every Sunday as a kid, our family always had chicken paprikas, or as we called it, “cream chicken.” Essentially, poached chicken covered in a paprika sour cream sauce. To compliment the richness, we always had a pickled cucumber salad on the side. An easy salad tossed together in between the laborious steps of chicken paprikas. It’s basically a simple brine of sugar, salt, vinegar and water that covers thinly sliced cucumber for about an hour. This basic brine/dressing can be used to cover all kinds of vegetables: beets, carrots, peppers. This week, new potatoes are particularly beautiful in the local markets so I decided to thin slice some and cover them in this basic brine. And for fun, it’s great on a burger!

Pickled New Potato Salad:

For the brine/dressing:

1/4 cup boiling water (I just heat water in a kettle, no need to use a pot for this)
2 Tbsp Coal Lake Honey Farm honey
2 Tbsp vinegar (traditionally a simple white vinegar is used, but any vinegar will do)
1 tsp salt

In a small bowl stir together all the ingredients, dissolving the salt and honey. Set aside.

For the salad:

500g/1 lb Doef’s Greenhouses new potatoes, thinly sliced
Prepared Brine/dressing
Sweet Hungarian paprika, to serve

In a large, shallow bowl, spread out the thinly sliced potato and cover with the brine/dressing. Allow to sit at least 30 minutes (60 minutes is better). Drain off the brine and sprinkle with paprika. Serves 4 with a rich dish such as meats, cream sauces, etc.

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Cheeseburger Salad

Yes, like most North Americans, I enjoy a good cheeseburger. The key word is good. A generation of mediocre fast food approximations have lowered the standard to a point that people are in a state of shock when they have a good cheeseburger. Hand-forming quality ground beef into patties take no time. Grilling on an outdoor BBQ or indoor grill or cast iron pan takes less time than sitting in a drive thru line-up after rush hour traffic.
Then why do so many people take that route? Most people don’t think about the food they consume, as they consume it. This level of gastronomic disconnect has led to this lowering of the standard. Focusing on each meal, making it more important, will allow us to raise that standard to something better. Something more delicious. Something worth doing.
During one of my mindful moments making my own sliders for lunch, I left aside a small ball of ground beef and had a thought, “How can I incorporate the flavours of a good cheeseburger into a salad?”
My thoughts went to a combination between an Italian arancini and the Hungarian fasirozott. The idea where a fried ball of something was stuffed with cheese. With arancini the “stuff” inside is leftover risotto. With fasirozott the “stuff” is garlicky ground pork. I thought if I made a cheeseburger “crouton” I could dress a salad with the usual “trimmings” you get on a burger (lettuce, tomato, onion, relish). I’m also lucky to have a local cheesemaker who makes a mustard seed-infused gouda cheese so adding the mustard element came naturally inside the cheeseburger “crouton.”

Cheeseburger Salad:

For the Cheeseburger “Crouton”:

150g/5-6 oz Sunshine Organic lean ground beef
50g/2 oz Sylvan Star Cheese Farm mustard seed gouda
1/4 cup Gold Forest Grains red fife flour
1 Sunshine Organic large egg
1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs
2 Tbsp Gold Forest Grains flax seeds
1 Tbsp sweet Hungarian paprika
1 Tbsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp salt

Divide the ground beef into 12 equal sized portions. Form each into a rough meatball. Stuff the centre with a bit of the finely cubed gouda.

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Pinch a seam over the cheese to encapsulate it inside the meatball and roll it into a ball shape. Repeat with the remaining meatballs.

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In three small bowls, add the flour in one bowl, the egg beaten with a bit of water in another bowl, and in the third bowl, add the breadcrumbs, flax seed, paprika, garlic powder and salt. Dredge each meatball in flour, then egg-water mixture, then the breadcrumb-flax mixture. Repeat with all the meatballs. Allow to sit for 15 minutes to allow the breading to adhere properly before frying.
In a small pot outfitted with a candy thermometer, bring 1 cup of oil to a temperature of 190C/360F. Fry the breaded meatballs for 4-5 minutes until deeply golden. The meat will be a medium rare inside, so using a quality ground beef is more important than ever in this recipe. Drain on paper towels and set aside while preparing the salad portion.

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For the salad:

1/4 cup Bles Wold plain yogurt
2 Tbsp Edgar Farms asparagus relish
4 cups Sparrows Nest Organics spinach
1 Doef’s Greenhouses medium tomato, coarsely chopped
2 Peas On Earth green onions, finely sliced

In a medium bowl, whisk the yogurt and relish together with a fork. Add the spinach, tomato and green onions. Toss with the dressing until lightly coated throughout. To serve, take a handful of tossed salad on each plate, top with three fried cheeseburger “croutons.” Serves 4

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Curried Asparagus Coleslaw

   As the asparagus season winds down here, I become obsessed. How do I enjoy as much of this sweet spear as much as possible? Today, while having a fish and chip lunch from a local food truck, I looked down at the little container of coleslaw with it and thought, “Could I grate asparagus stems the same way I do cabbage for coleslaw?” The answer is a resounding yes!! And because the asparagus is so fresh and sweet, it can be eaten raw beautifully, no blanching or steaming required to make a delicious coleslaw.

Curried Asparagus Coleslaw:

For the Curried Yogurt Dressing:

1 tsp coriander seed

1/2 tsp mustard seed

1/4 tsp cumin seed

1 tsp turmeric

1/4 tsp hot paprika (optional if you like an extra spicy kick)

1/2 tsp salt

2 cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped

2 Tbsp Mighty Trio Organics cold pressed flax oil

1/2 cup Bles Wold plain yogurt

   In a spice grinder or coffee grinder dedicated to only grinding spices (unless you like curried coffee), grind the coriander, cumin, mustard seed, turmeric and hot paprika until a fine powder is achieved. Add the spice mix to a blender or food processor with the garlic and flax oil and grind until a thick paste is formed. Transfer to a small bowl with the yogurt and stir together into a smooth dressing. Transfer to a medium bowl.

For the Coleslaw:

24 Edgar Farms asparagus spears, coarsely grated (about 1-1/2 cups total)

1 Doef’s Greenhouses orange bell pepper, thinly sliced

1 Doef’s Greenhouses banana pepper, seeded and thinly sliced (or another 1/4 cup bell pepper if you don’t want it spicy)

   In the medium bowl with the Curried Yogurt Dressing, add the grated asparagus and sliced peppers. Toss together gently with your fingers. Serves 4-6 as a main course salad or 8-10 as a side or starter.

 

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Bison Bacon Barley Salad with Honey Glazed Asparagus and Radishes

   As the temperate spring turns to summer, the last of the asparagus and radishes leave me to do as much as I can while they’re still fresh in the market. When I have radishes, I also love cooking the greens because they do retain a bit of that radish-y bite. The radish root itself is also wonderful when cooked. It tames some of the bite, softens slightly and adds a pleasant textural note to a hearty salad, like one with cooked barley. Today’s salad can be eaten warm almost like a stir fry, room temperature at a picnic or cold as a quick lunch the next day after preparing the night before.

Bison Bacon Barley Salad with Honey Glazed Asparagus and Radishes

3 Tbsp Mighty Trio Organics cold pressed canola oil

4 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced

1 fresh Doef’s Greenhouses red chilli, thinly sliced (seeds removed if desired)

8-10 Edgar Farms asparagus, cut into 4 cm/2″ lengths

6-8 Sparrows Nest Organic Farm radishes, quartered, with 1 packed cup of radish greens

3 Tbsp Coal Lake Honey farm mixed honey

100g/8oz (about 1 cup) bison bacon (you could also use back bacon, Irish bacon, ham or any lean, smoked product. If vegan, you could use smoked tofu or coconut bacon. I used a beautiful product from Big Bend Market while on a recent trip to Red Deer last weekend)

1 cup cooked Gold Forest Grains whole, unhulled barley

1 August Organics green onion, thinly sliced

2 Tbsp Mighty Trio Organics cold pressed flax oil

   Place a wok over medium high heat. Heat the canola oil until just starting to smoke. Add the garlic, chillis and the white part of the green onions. Stir fry until the edges of the garlic just become lightly golden. Quickly add the asparagus and radish roots and stir fry for a further 2-3 minutes until the radishes soften slightly and the asparagus turns a more vibrant green. Add the honey and stir through, coating all the ingredients. When the honey starts to darken slightly, add the barley, bison bacon and radish greens. Stir fry for a further 3-4 minutes to completely coat all the ingredients with the sweet and spicy glaze. Take off the heat, fold in the green part of the green onions and drizzle with flax oil. Serves 4-5 as a starter or side.

 

 

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Cherry Radish Fattoush Salad with Rhubarb Cilantro Dressing

   I was very excited this past weekend when a local market had fresh cherries. The particular cherries I found were of the sweet variety since the sour cherries tend to ripen later in the summer. Whenever there is a bounty of fruit in the summer, I like to incorporate them into savoury dishes. Don’t get me wrong, desserts are fun. I’m probably baking a cherry-rhubarb pie with some of the cherries, but sometimes, I like to do something a little different.

I get inspired by the freshness of an ingredient and something random in my refrigerator. I found some leftover flatbreads I had made a few days ago and an idea struck me: pitted cherries look vaguely like olives so I thought of doing a twist on a Lebanese fattoush salad. Normally a blend of tomato, cucumber, olives, herbs and toasted pita pieces, I thought that cherries and radishes would compliment each other in this style of salad. With a quick rhubarb and cilantro dressing, the idea came together smoothly.

Cherry Radish Fattoush Salad with Rhubarb Cilantro Dressing

For the Rhubarb Cilantro Dressing:

1/4 cup Honey Rhubarb Compote

2 Tbsp fresh cilantro, roughly torn

1/4 cup Mighty Trio Organics cold pressed canola oil

Salt and pepper, to taste

   Whisk together the Honey Rhubarb Compote, cilantro and oil with a fork and season lightly with salt and pepper. Set aside.

For the Cherry Radish Fattoush:

1-15cm(6″) wheat flatbread (I use homemade, but a wheat pita will work as well)

15-20 Walker’s Own Orchard cherries, halved and pitted

10-12 Sparrow’s Nest Organic Farm radishes, thinly sliced

2 August Organics green onions, finely sliced

   Preheat oven to 180C/350F.

   Place the flatbread directly on the lower rack of the preheated oven and toast until lightly golden (about 10-12 minutes).

   In a medium bowl, add the cherries, radishes, green onions and the toasted flatbread cracked into several rough 4cm/2″ chunks. Toss with half of the prepared dressing. (Reserve the rest of the dressing for another use). Serves 2-3 as a side or starter.

 

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Asparagus New Potato Salad with Rhubarb Mayo

   Many wonderful fresh produce items grow to maturity at this time of year: asparagus, rhubarb and new potatoes. Asparagus is prominent a little later here than in some other parts of Canada or other countries because of our somewhat cooler, temperate climate in Edmonton. Edgar Farms, a family farm outside of Innisfail, Alberta, generally have their beautiful asparagus from mid to late May until the end of June.

   Rhubarb sprouts from everywhere. It’s not unusual to receive a big garbage bag of rhubarb from friends because of its ubiquitous nature throughout the summer.

   And potatoes are just starting to become cute little nuggets around now. The natural thing is to incorporate them together.

   I decided to make a quick mayonnaise with the rhubarb. When I have Honey Rhubarb Compote in the fridge (which, at this time of year, is invariably), the mayo comes together in minutes. The rest of the salad is simply steaming, cooling and assembly. Easy!

For the Rhubarb Mayo:

1 tsp mustard seed

1/2 tsp Gold Forest Grains flax seeds

1/2 cup Honey Rhubarb Compote (*see Note below)

1/4 cup Mighty Trio Organics cold pressed canola oil

1/2 tsp, each salt and pepper

*Note: To make Honey Rhubarb Compote, add 4 cups chopped fresh rhubarb, 2 Tbsp honey and 1/4 cup water to a large saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium high heat and cook down until the rhubarb breaks down, and the compote thickens, stirring occasionally throughout (about 15-20 min).

   In a blender, add the mustard and flax seeds and grind until a fine powder is achieved.

   Add the Honey Rhubarb Compote and oil to the ground seeds in the blender. Purée until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate until needed.

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For the Asparagus New Potato Salad with Rhubarb Mayo:

650g/1.5lb Doef’s Greenhouses new potatoes, cut into 1/2 cm pieces

200g/7oz Edgar Farms asparagus, cut into 3cm/1.5″ lengths

3 August Organics green onions, finely chopped

3 Sunshine Organic Farm large eggs

Prepared Rhubarb Mayo

Salt and pepper to taste

   In a large saucepan fitted with a steamer, add the cut new potatoes. Bring the water below the steamer to a boil, cover and steam for 15 minutes. At this point the potatoes are about 2/3 of the way done and it’s a good time to add the asparagus to steam with it.

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   Cover with a lid and steam for a further 10-12 minutes. Empty the potatoes and asparagus from the steamer into a large bowl and cool in the freezer for about 15 minutes or until the potatoes are about room temperature.

   While the potatoes are steaming, place the eggs and enough water to cover them, in a small saucepan. Cover with a lid and bring to a boil. After the water has come to a boil, reduce the heat to medium low and cook the eggs for 10 minutes. Immediately remove them from the heat and run cold water over the saucepan directly into the water to cool the hard boiled eggs as quickly as possible. This eliminated the ghastly grey ring from forming around your yolk. Peel the shells, cut the eggs into eighths and set aside.

   To assemble, toss the cooled potatoes and asparagus with the Rhubarb Mayo and green onions. Gently fold in the hard boiled eggs. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serves 3-4 as a starter or side.

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Tomato Turos Salad: The First Taste of a Summer of Salads

I’m not the most regular contributor to my blog, but I’ll add posts in bursts. Some manic inspiration, but sometimes it is because I have a concept to challenge myself to create more. In December, I do a recipe a day during Advent. Mainly it’s supposed to be fun. One of those “good idea at the time” things until I get three weeks into it and wonder, “What was I thinking?”
I had another idea a couple of weeks ago as summer started to approach: “What if I did a different salad every day during the summer starting on the summer solstice?”
I’ll probably be saying to myself, “What were you thinking?” again in a few weeks since I counted 93 days in summer, but the only way to challenge myself is to go completely over the top.
The first salad of summer is something I often eat as a snack in the evening when I just want a little bite: a tomato-aged cheese salad. Or in this case, Tomato-Turos Salad. The cheese component of it can be interchanged with any number of aged crumbly cheeses, but in this case, I was reading more on my Hungarian culinary heritage and came upon Turos, an easy farmer-style cheese. Think of it like a dry cottage cheese. It’s a great way to use up milk and buttermilk that may be on the edge of its best before date. I’ll start with how to make the cheese, then go to the salad.

Turos (Hungarian Style Farmer’s Cheese)

3 cups Vital Green Farms organic whole milk (3.5%)
1 cup Vital Green Farms organic buttermilk (must have active bacterial culture or it won’t work)

Place the milk and buttermilk in a large pot with a tight fitting lid that can go in the oven. Allow to sit at room temperature on the counter for 2-3 days. There should be a slight separation of curds and whey.
Preheat oven to 90C/200F.
Place the separated milk/buttermilk mixture in the preheated oven with the lid on and slow cook for 6 hours or until the curds completely separate from the whey.

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Pour the curds and whey through a strainer (lined with two layers of cheesecloth) set over a large bowl. Allow all of the whey to strain through. The whey can be used to make homemade ricotta or some people drink it as an extra protein boost (or add to smoothies). Reserve the curd, this is Turos. It can be stored in a container with a tight fitting lid in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

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Tomato-Turos Salad

20-25 Doef’s Greenhouses cherry tomatoes, cut into 1 cm (1/2″) pieces
1/2 cup prepared Turos (or other dry crumbly cheese like feta)
2 Tbsp Mighty Trio Organics cold pressed flax oil

Combine the tomatoes and Turos in a medium bowl, drizzle with flax oil. Serves 3-4 as a starter or side.

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