Monday, September 20, 2010

Cat Cora's Chopped Vegetable Salad

Every cook I know loves a new cookbook.  There is something seductive about them.  Most have glossy pictures that make us think we can be great chefs. Cookbooks let us dream about what could be.  There is something about holding a cookbook - flipping through the pages of one that your mother or grandmother owned and seeing all the little specks of history -  their handwritten notes about what was good and what was not, or what they changed to make the recipe better. I hope that electronic readers don't replace my beloved cookbooks - it just won't be the same.

This week my copy of Cat Cora's Classics With A Twist arrived in the mail. According to Wikipedia Cat was born in Jackson, MS, attended the Culinary Institute of American and was the only female winner of the Food Network's Iron Chef. The books jacket describes its contents as "...casual fare that looks as if you spent hours on it (but it takes a fraction of the time)..."

On Sunday I made the Chopped Vegetable Salad.  The salad has a lot of flavor and textures is light and delicious. I halved the vinaigrette for the two of us but made the entire recipe of vegetable salad (used only 1 avocado) and doubled the salad greens.

Photograph by Mike Johnston

Chopped Vegetable Salad
Mustard Vinaigrette

  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup almond oil or safflower oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper.
Whisk together the mustard and vinegar in a small bowl. Slowly drizzle in the oils, one at a time, whisking constantly, until the vinaigrette is thick and creamy. Add the salt and pepper and set aside. (The vinaigrette can be made 1 to 2 days ahead and kept, covered, at room temperature.)

Chopped Salad
  • 1/2 cup peeled and chopped carrot
  • 1/2 cup trimmed and chopped green beans
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion
  • 1/2 cup fresh corn kernels raw or cooked
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup chopped jarred artichoke hearts
  • 2 large avocados, chopped
  • 1/2 cup peeled and chopped tomato
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 teaspoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup mixed greens of choice (curly endive, chicory, or baby lettuce), cut or torn into bite-sized pieces.
To Blanch the vegetables: Using a fine-meshed basket or a slotted spoon, dip the carrots in a large saucepan of boiling salted water for 2 to 3 minutes, removing them while they're still crisp and bright. Cool them in the ice bath, then scoop them out, let them drain for a few seconds, and place them in a large bowl. Add more ice to your ice bath and repeat the blanching process with the green beans, transferring them to the ice bath while they're still bright green, cooling and draining them in the same manner and adding them to the bowl with the carrots.

For the Salad:  Add the onion, corn, celery, and artichokes to the bowl. Just before you're ready to serve, add the avocados and the tomato. Gently toss the vegetables with about half the vinaigrette until they're lightly coated. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with the grated cheese and gently toss once more.
Toss the greens with the remaining vinaigrette, but use a light hand. Taste the salad and add more salt and pepper if necessary. Divide the salad greens among four salad plates. Mound the chopped vegetables on the greens and serve.

I served this with a crusty Tuscan White Boule and glass of crisp Sauvignon Blanc. 

Life is good-enjoy!

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