Saturday, January 12, 2008

Best of 2007: Salads

Salads are the staple of our existence in our San Diego home. If we don't eat salad for lunch, it will most likely make an appearance at dinner. So you'll understand when I tell you that I have more salad recipes in my to-try pile than I can count. I'm always on the hunt for great salads. We seems to gravitate toward the recipes that include cheese of some sort... blue cheese, goat cheese, feta... any cheese really. Without the cheese, it's seemingly a fairly boring salad. Toasted or caramelized nuts are a bonus, as are roasted beets or an amazing salad dressing. On occasion, I throw lettuce into a bowl, place sliced tomatoes on top, throw on a few toasted pine nuts & crumbled feta, grab a "bottle"of store-bought dressing and call it a salad. This is not the ideal. I long for the undiscovered salad recipe that only a foodie would truly appreciate.

Of the 41 new salad recipes that I tested out last year, there are 5 that you absolutely must know about.

The best salad of the year... in fact the best salad I've had in YEARS is Giada de Laurentiis' Beet and Goat Cheese Arugula Salad. The beets are tossed with a balsamic dressing and then roasted in the oven to caramelize. They really make the salad. Everyone at the dinner party where I served this raved about this salad.

Caesar Salad with Pancetta: This recipe comes from Ina Garten's Barefoot Contessa Parties! I like Caesar Salad only if it's done in a unique way... interesting croutons, non-traditional dressing, or an addition of some kind. Here is one that is quite memorable. The sauteed pancetta and roasted tomatoes turn this into a "caesar to write home about." This was included in an everyday dinner for us as a prelude to pizza.

I'm a Martha-fan, and this Greek Salad with Seasoned Flatbread comes from her cookbook, Everyday Food: Great Food Fast- a wonderful cookbook of quick & easy meals that is organized by season. Sometimes the most basic salads can tantalize our tastebuds, and this is one of them. Don't skip the flatbread... it's a great accompaniment.

I shop at Nordstrom. I even eat at Nordstrom. Interestingly enough, their cafe has great salads, soups and sandwiches! Someone in the Nordstrom family must appreciate good food because they've published some cookbooks too. This Asparagus and Goat Cheese Salad with Cherry Balsamic Vinaigrette comes from Nordstrom: Entertaining at Home Cookbook. This is one salad where the dressing really makes the salad. It's quite a simple salad of mixed greens, pine nuts, goat cheese & asparagus, but then you toss it with that Cherry Balsamic Vinaigrette and WOW! Loved it.

Here is the most interesting and unique salad of the year: Grilled Corn Dog Salad with Beer-Mustard Dressing. I wish I could say that I made this one up but it does have a source: When I saw the title of this recipe, I envisioned corn dogs within the salad. There is grilled corn, butternut squash, sweet peppers, and smoked sausages, but not a corn dog is in sight in this summery salad. I actually won a prize at our friend's annual Fourth of July barbecue contest for the best recipe. It's quite time-consuming to make this one but it created a lot of buzz and people loved it, so it was worth it.

If you have sources for other epic salad recipes, I would love to see them in the comments section below... I'm always on the hunt for the best!


Anonymous said...

I bought a few months back, Raising the Salad Bar.

I've been trying to hold off buying cookbooks, but this one caught my eye. I remember reading a good review in the Boston Globe.

I've tried a few recipes and really liked them.

Oy, another blog for me. I really like your website so of course I had to check your blog!! I made the pork and apple recipe (with onions) a few wks back and loved it.

RecipeGirl said...

I'll check out the salad cookbook you mentioned. I have a very difficult time saying "no" to tempting cookbook purchases!!
Thanks for stopping by, and I'm glad you like the RecipeGirl site!

StickyGooeyCreamyChewy said...

I have a super simple black bean and corn salad that is really good. The recipe is on my blog. In a few weeks, I am also going to be posting about a roasted beet and orange salad that I just love! I'll send you the recipes.