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You know that moment when you bite into something and your taste buds burst into life? When the flavors sing in such perfect harmony they create a magical moment in your mouth? That’s how excited I feel when I encounter a truly delicious salad.
Sometimes it’s a simple mix of heirloom lettuces, or a composed dish like our Vietnamese 5-Spice Chicken Salad, but when they’re matched with a perfectly balanced dressing, all the flavors synchronize in that one bite. And contrary to what you may think, it’s not hard to make delicious dressings at home!
As the weather warms up, I’ll often start adding fruit to my salads – sliced strawberries in a spinach salad or grilled peaches tossed with our romaine and arugula blend. While you could make a simple dressing of red wine vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper, and a dash of maple syrup (for sweetness!), there are some wonderful fruit-friendly dressings readily available on grocery store shelves. And to turn your salad into a complete meal, simply add our cold, sliced, Niman Ranch Tri-Tip or leftover Harrisa Chicken, and you have a filling summer supper!
As you may know from past blog entries, my travels often inspire my own cooking as well as menu items at Jessie et Laurent. In Tahiti, for example, we loved the bright flavors of lime and coconut milk and replicated that idea for a cold Ahi tuna salad. In fact, a dressing of lime juice, honey and fresh ginger would work well on a variety of tropical fruit salads.
Here’s an idea: Next time you’re asked to bring a fruit salad to a potluck or dinner party, consider branching out from your usual and really make those flavors sing with an unexpected fruit salad “dressing”. Personally, I love this tangy poppyseed dressing from Bobby Flay, which is heaven when paired with a mix of strawberry, blueberry, honeydew and papaya! Plus, this recipe makes enough to have extra on hand for other fruit combinations.
Citrus Poppyseed Vinaigrette 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice 3 tablespoons fresh orange juice 2 tablespoons fresh grapefruit juice 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard 1 teaspoon low-fat mayonnaise 1 teaspoon honey 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon mild salad oil (like canola) 1 1/2 teaspoons poppy seeds Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
In a bowl, whisk the lime, orange and grapefruit juices with the mustard, mayonnaise and honey. Slowly whisk in the oil until the dressing is creamy. Stir in the poppy seeds and season with salt and pepper. Combine approximately ½ cup of dressing with 4-6 cups of fruit, depending on taste.
And the next time you’re wondering how to use your Jessie et Laurent leftovers – especially salmon, chicken or grilled meats – consider adding them to a summer salad of crunchy greens, fresh or grilled fruit, and this Citrus Poppyseed Vinaigrette. It’s a combination that will make your taste buds smile.