So in honor of National Fresh Fruit and Veggies Month and National Salad Month (which was last month), I thought I’d give a try to make a nice salad. Now I’ve never been a fan of salad. Maybe it’s because historically for me, it usually involves some bits of iceberg lettuce and some kind of dressing. Sometimes a special treat would be a couple of croutons. Not fun, at least in my opinion. So whenever I make a salad, I try to make it interesting with a wide range of flavors, different textures, different colors, fun ingredients, seasonal inspiration. . . all that jazz.
Chive flowers were the inspiration for this dish. I have some chives growing in a couple of pots which I usually take into the house over the winter. This time, for whatever reason, I left them out to face the winter head-on. Fast forward to Spring 2011 and there are an abundance of chive flowers. Not sure if it has anything to do with being exposed to the elements, but that’s beside the point. Point is, I had at least twice the amount of chive flowers than I’ve had before. If you’ve never eaten them, they are somewhat milder than chives, but they have a subtle spiciness and bite.
For this salad, the greens that I chose are a mixture of butter lettuce (yum) and some frisee (also yum). The nice soft sweetness of the butter lettuce is a nice contrast to the bitterness and hardiness of the frisee. I use about 2 parts frisee to 1 part butter lettuce (which is nice cuz frisee costs a lot less). Add in the nice, tart, creaminess of the goat cheese and I think it’s a winner. Here’s what you need to make 2 nice-sized salads:
For the salad:
- about 3 c. mixed greens (I usually get extra greens, cuz you could have enough for a couple of salads the rest of the week. For this batch I got 2 heads of frisee and 1 of the butter lettuce.)
- 8 – 10 chive blossoms, leaving some whole and some divided into florets
- 4 rounds of goat cheese, 1/2″ thick
- 5 T. toasted breadcrumbs
- 2 t. fennel seeds
- vinaigrette, to taste (I made a raspberry vinaigrette with just a touch of balsamic)
- salt & pepper, to taste
1. Place the goat cheese in the freezer for about 15 minutes. This makes it easier to slice and handle later. It also helps it not melt too much when it is fried up.
2. Wash and dry greens. Cut or tear into bite-sized pieces. Place on a serving plate or salad bowl. Wash and dry chive blossoms. Keep four whole, but separate the other four into the individual florets. Sprinkle florets over the greens. Set aside the whole flowers.
3. Slice rounds from the goat cheese log. In a small dish, mix together the bread crumbs, fennel seeds, salt, and pepper. Coat the rounds in the crumb mixture. Quickly fry the rounds until golden.
4. Place the warm rounds on top of the greens. Drizzle with prepared vinaigrette. Garnish with the whole chive flowers and serve.
For the raspberry vinaigrette:
To make your standard vinaigrette, the ratio of oil to vinegar is somewhere between 3:1 and 2:1. It all depends on the strength of the vinegar and how tart you like it. Plus vinegars come in a wide range of flavors, so the ratio needs to adjust to accommodate. Do what you feel comfortable with! For this recipe, I used a 2:1 ratio. There’s no additional emulsifiers here, but if you want something a little bit creamier, you can add maybe 1 T. of honey, or maybe 1 T. of raspberry preserves. Personally, I don’t really add any emulsifiers unless I need them for the flavor they provide. Lately I don’t even mix them together; I just drizzle some vinegar and olive oil on the greens and toss it together in my bowl. Here’s what you need:
- 1/2 c. olive oil
- 1/4 c. raspberry vinegar (with a splash of balsamic)
- 1 t. chopped chives
- salt & pepper, to taste
Combine all the ingredients in a container and whisk until combined. Or you could put all the ingredients in a mason jar and shake to combine.