Sunday, October 18, 2009

So, I'm just a teensy bit obsessed with the way my food looks.

It can be macaroni and cheese, and I will still have the incessant need to garnish it with a parsley leaf, by god.

Maybe it's because of my artistic roots, or the fact that my weird childhood had me watching HGTV at the age of ten. Probably both.

At any rate, when I am actually serving people (not the imaginary ones), I suppose it's acceptable for me to splurge a little.

(shameful this photo was taken with a cellphone camera... believe me, it hurts me just as much as it hurts you. It's even more shameful this bowl is tupperware.)

I made a nice, fall inspired (but longing for summer fruit) salad today for dinner at my cousin's; hasn't happened yet, but one of my faithful coworkers did the painful honor of being my guinea pig before I serve it to ten+ people. You're the man, man!

I started off making the dressing, which is a creamy vinaigrette, featuring raspberry, toasted poppy seed, sesame, and garlic. The tang in this, which I make and play with often, is the perfect compliment for fresh fruit like peaches and strawberries in salads.

I don't like to buy dressing much. Melissa's is the exception, cause that shit is good. But it's just as easy to make your own out of common fridge/pantry ingredients, and much healthier (cuts the sodium and fat just about in half.)

For this one you're going to need:

Scant 1/4 cup cream
1/4 cup apple or grape juice
3 tablespoons raspberry vinegar (You can find this at health food stores if it's not at the supermarket)
Sea salt to taste
1/4 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
1/2 tbsp poppy seeds
1/2 tbsp sesame
4 tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp garlic powder or more to taste

Heat a dry frying pan on high heat and toast the poppy and sesame seeds. You'll want to toss them in the pan for no more than about 30 seconds, otherwise they will burn and stick to the pan. Empty the seeds onto a plate or into a small bowl for later use and set aside.

Stir all the wet ingredients together gently so the cream doesn't get peaky and mix in the seeds. Set aside.

For the salad:

1 head romaine lettuce, shredded and rinsed thoroughly
1 cup thinly sliced strawberries or peaches
1 cup Mixed raw nuts (I used a bag of premixed soynuts, pumpkin seeds and almonds. You can use whatever you want; I HIGHLY recommend pumpkin seeds though, they have the perfect flavour for this dish.)
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame

Toast the sesame and the nuts SEPARATELY with the same method as above and set both aside to cool. If you are dumb and put them directly in with the lettuce like I did at first, they'll burn themselves right onto the leaves. It does make an amusing sizzling noise, though.

In a large bowl, toss the lettuce with dressing. I did double the recipe so I could use more to drizzle on top, so do that if you like. Throw in the strawberries, followed by the nuts, followed by the cheese and garnish with onion and toasted sesame. Serve immediately.

I think this would be really good as a lunch accompaniment to soup. Perhaps a nice pumpkin bisque, or lentil... mmmhmmmmmm. Oh man, I need to go take care of that now.

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