March 15, 2013

Strawberry Mache Salad with Poppy Seed Vinaigrette and Almond Brittle



Ever tried strawberry with greens? Simply ahh-mazing!

Juicy strawberries, tender greens, kiwifruit, and goji berries with poppy seed vinaigrette. It’s dessert on your plate. Yea, right.

And the proverbial icing on the cake? Almond brittle!



Ever since the love berries, er, strawberries started appearing in the stores for just a few riyals, thanks to the supply from Egypt, I’ve been over indulging. Literally. I’ve been buying them in bucket loads with absolutely no guilt. And each time I remember they are not only delicious but also super food, I can’t seem to stop.

At home I whip the bounty into lip-smacking smoothies, or freeze them in bags for ice creams. The rest are enjoyed with oatmeal, or packed into plastic boxes for healthy nibbling at work. There is the occasional jam, rice pudding, crumble, and salad—strawberry with greens being my current crush.

As much as I love dessert, I crave juices and salads very often. Most especially when I feel the need to detox, or start fresh.




With salads, the possibilities are endless. You can fill your plate with health, nutrition, and taste in a matter of minutes. Add ingredients like fun, laughter, friends, and you end up with memories for a lifetime.

I’m mostly conscious of what I put on my plate (um, quite frankly with the exception of dessert). And this salad is loaded with heart healthy ingredients—goji berry, strawberry, mache lettuce, kiwi, almond, olive oil and vinegar. All detox food ingredients.

Goji berry, commonly know as wolfberry, is one of the most naturally dense food in the world. For centuries, this super food has been grown and used in common recipes and traditional medicine in China. Goji is a small red berry with a hint of orange and a distinctive chewy, sweet, yet slightly sour aftertaste. Usually found in the dried form, it resembles cranberry in color, and raisin in shape and texture. Mmm, I’m actually munching on a few to taste test as I type. Goji is touted as longevity food, and quite popular for its anti-ageing properties as well. The only challenge would be to find them in your local gourmet grocery store. And most times what you do find is not the best quality either.



Mache, also called lamb’s lettuce or corn salad, is ideally a springtime lettuce. Quite different from the regular crisp lettuce, mache has a delicate sweet, nutty flavor. It is delicious in salads and pairs beautifully with the juicy freshness of strawberries and tang of poppy seed vinaigrette. Challenge? It’s very perishable and wilts easily. So refrigerate for no more than two days, and add to salad and toss at the last minute.



Almond brittle is a hit on its own. Add it to salad, and you have something fantastic on your plate. With just two ingredients—slivered almonds and sugar—and less than 5 minutes, and that too on stove top, you end up with amazingly crunchy and absolutely addictive nut candies. The only challenge with a delicious and no-fuss treat like this would be to have enough leftover by the time you are ready to toss the salad!



I’ve never been a fan of the bottled up salad dressings from supermarket shelves. I’ve always preferred homemade versions with absolutely no preservative or artificial flavoring. Best part? You get to control the ingredients! Mostly I go for a simple vinaigrette salad topper with lemon, olive oil, vinegar and seasoning—makes the perfect vinaigrette that goes well with almost any salad. When this becomes a tad ho-hum, I mix in ingredients like Dijon mustard, garlic, basil, thyme, pepper, sugar/honey, poppy seeds, fruit juices to come up with dozens of variations—quite versatile.

The sweet-tangy poppy seed vinaigrette is lip smacking on its own. And even more splendid when drizzled on to this stunning mix of strawberries, mache and kiwi. Vinegars and lemon impart the trademark tartness, while sugar softens the flavors. Bonus? Vinegar is said to aid weight loss. Yes—oh yes! I recently came across an article on how vinegar curbs fat accumulation. On further google research I found that vinegar boosts satiety. So be smart enough and use vinegar to jazz up your meals and keep hunger at bay.


The amounts given here are just guidelines. Feel free to improvise to your taste or dietary requirements. Also, if you can’t find mache locally, swap it for argula, watercress or baby spinach leaves.

Packed with flavor, color, texture and detox ingredients, this is just the kind of salad for a warm spring afternoon. Enjoy!


Strawberry Mache Salad with Poppy Seed Vinaigrette and Almond Brittle

Ingredients
Prep: 10 min
Serves 3

For almond brittle
1/3 cup slivered almonds
1 ½ tablespoons sugar

For poppy seed vinaigrette
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 ½ teaspoons sugar
¼ teaspoon paprika
¼ teaspoon salt
pinch Kashmiri chili powder
1 teaspoon poppy seeds

For Salad
3 cups loosely packed mache, cleaned and trimmed
1  kiwi, peeled, quartered and sliced
1 cup fresh strawberries, cleaned, hulled and sliced lengthwise
1 tablespoon goji berries

Directions

In a heavy skillet, over medium heat, combine almonds with 1 ½ tablespoons sugar. Stir constantly until sugar has melted and browned, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and spread nuts on foil. Let cool completely and crack into brittle pieces.

Meanwhile, make the vinaigrette dressing. In a small bowl, place vinegars, sugar, paprika, chili, poppy seeds and salt. Whisk vigorously to combine. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. The dressing will keep for weeks in the refrigerator—whisk before serving.

Combine strawberries, kiwi, goji berries and mache in a large bowl. Add the candied almonds and toss gently to combine. Just before serving, drizzle with half the dressing. Divide among plates, and serve immediately with remaining vinaigrette on the side.

Serve as a first course or side dish with grilled chicken, or meat.




The days are getting longer and the months are flying by, and for now it’s time for long, long walks and thoughts and reflection. Till next time, then.

Hope you are having a wonderfully romantic spring weekend,

23 comments:

  1. Dear Nashi, you just made me speechless with all these gorgeous shots! I'm lost for words...seriously. I'm in total love with your photography skill! ;)

    The salad, so colorful and mouthwatering!

    ReplyDelete
  2. The salad looks so colorful and appealing Nash and ur photos gorgeous... keep rocking gal

    ReplyDelete
  3. Breathtaking pictures. Must learn a lot from you.I would like to know the lens you are using.Very recently bought an SLR and slowly learning to take pictures.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I wonder how you do magic with food :) seriously I love your clicks so much that most times I miss reading your post, sorry :) but I am helpless...

    ReplyDelete
  5. Very beautiful clicks as always.. Awesome job dear :)

    ReplyDelete
  6. Yet again your photography took my breath away!!!!!! You have a real talent & a bit of magic in food photography...Keep rocking!!
    Prathima Rao
    Prats Corner

    ReplyDelete
  7. Wow! speechless.. Love every clicks in this post.. so yummy

    ReplyDelete
  8. Wat a nutritious and healthy food..Breath taking clicks.

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  9. Refreshing salad. Beautiful clicks.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Wow! speechless.. Love every clicks in this post.. so yummy

    ReplyDelete
  11. absolutely loved the gorgeous pixs ...for a min I was transported to somewhere, where spring has arrived and like you i have days when i crave for some fresh salad and juices and feel so purified from it

    ReplyDelete
  12. What a treat to see such amazing pictures, and such an in depth post. Too beautiful for words

    ReplyDelete
  13. Nashi, I just love that first pic of goji berries..i thnk u made them look nicer than I have ever seen it in real! Strawbery with salad is such a novel idea, and that candied almonds are truly 'icing on the cake'!

    ReplyDelete
  14. that sounds really good!
    i should try it this weekend

    ReplyDelete
  15. looks so refreshing and ur clicks make even a salad looks too appealing!

    ReplyDelete
  16. I like everything about this recipe except the way you prepare your almonds. When carmelizing sugar don't stir it.The caramel can crystalize. It is better to leave alone in a dry pan, letting the sugar melt and carmelize over medium/med high heat. Then when it has gotten to the gorgeous amber color that you are looking for, add the almonds at once and stir with a wooden spoon. Immediately drop almonds onto a silpat or buttered foil pan. Cool.
    Your pictures are amazing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thanks for the tip Teri! sure gonna try your way ...:)

      Delete
  17. The strawberries here aren't quite ripe yet but I'm holding out for those perfectly ripe and red ones!

    ReplyDelete
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A million thank you's for stopping by, taking the time to connect, and coming back to visit again. I genuinely appreciate each of your kind thoughts, lovely words, love and support. Happy, happy to hear from you, and hope to see you again!

♥ Nashi