What is a Saskatoon berry?
If you grew up in the Canadian prairies, it’s as part of any childhood as cookies and milk or learning the perfect wrist shot in hockey. 😉
Technically speaking, the Saskatoon berry is a purplish berry that visually resembles a blueberry, but is milder and earthier than its visual cousin. It’s been a staple in Canadian prairie cuisine since before there was a Canada. Native members of the Cree Nation, who called the berry “Mis-sask-quah-too-mina,” would eat them fresh in season, but then pounded them into a flat cake and dried them to preserve them for the winter. They would also pound the Saskatoon berries with meat to make a prairie version of pemmican. Either could be reconstituted at any time for soups, stews or simply broken off and chewed like a fruity jerky or a precursor to a fruit roll-up.
Texturally, a Saskatoon berry has a firmer skin than a blueberry and its earthier flavour makes it more reminiscent of a tannin-rich grape suitable for wines. Several entrepreneurial fruit wineries across the Canadian prairies in fact have done just that, giving a variety of wines, each unique in flavour because each region, like wine grapes, have its own flavour profiles.
I’m embarking on a much simpler endeavour with Saskatoon berries, a simple salad with romaine lettuce and grilled chicken. The dressing comes together in mere moments in a blender to give a sharp roundness to the overall flavour.
Chicken and Saskatoon Berry Salad with Kohlrabi Dill Dressing
For the Kohlrabi Dill Dressing:
3/4 cup grated kohlrabi, squeezed of excess water to yield about 1/2 cup kohlrabi
1/2 tsp prepared grainy mustard
1/4 cup white vinegar
2 Tbsp cold pressed canola oil
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp fresh dill
Place all the ingredients, minus the fresh dill in a blender and purée until smooth. Stir in the fresh dill and set aside.
For the salad:
6 cups romaine lettuce, torn into 4-5cm/2″ pieces
1 cup grilled chicken, cut into 2cm/1″ pieces
1/2 cup Saskatoon berries (or blueberries or Coronation grapes if Saskatoon berries are unavailable)
Reserved Kohlrabi Dill Dressing
In a large bowl combine the romaine lettuce, grilled chicken and Saskatoon berries. Toss with the prepared dressing and divide over 2 or 4 plates depending if it’s a meal salad or as a side/starter.