Mood-Buster Spring Salad

Yesterday I had a few folks around the house, waving some cameras about while I put some ingredients that i got from the market into one believable dish. They were random things that aren’t easy to find in Taiwan – jicama, fresh fennel, fresh figs, watermelon radish and beets.

Shopping in the market with cameras following was weird but at the same time I was glad to be able to show people where all the best produce could be found. I didn’t have time to think about what I would prepare at home and didn’t take the producer too seriously when he said he wanted me to experiment and show viewers that experimenting with food is ok and that it doesn’t always turn out something wonderful but that shouldn’t stop us from enjoying the creating process. I thought I would be able to handle it easily but when we got home much, much later, I was stumped. My first instinct was to do a salad because we are enjoying salads almost in this rather hot weather and they’re so easy to put together. My boyfriend quickly changed that by saying that a salad was what everyone would expect when thinking about raw food. Do something different.

So, I made this:

jicama, beets with mint, basil and chili, macadamia nut pate, fresh fennel slice and fresh figs

jicama, beets with mint, basil and chili, macadamia nut pate, fresh fennel slice and fresh figs

I sweaty and nervous and worried that it wouldn’t taste good but what the hell, it was a second attempt as the first attempt at making jicama wraps had failed. The sun was going down and we had to get all the best shooting done while it was still light. Everyone tasted it and enjoyed it. I was surprised since the producer, director and assistant were Taiwanese and 9/10 times Taiwanese don’t like beets at all and raw food is not known here on any great level. Their smiles and enthusiasm was enough to know that I broke the Taiwan code!

With the leftover ingredients, I made this sassy salad:

jicama fennel, figs, watermelon radish zucchini mint basil chilioil balsamic, lemon salt

With the combination of tastes, colours and textures, the heat of the dressing, this salad is nothing short of a mood-buster (if like me, on rainy, heavy, humid days, your mood needs busting).

Recipe:

greens of your choice

half a zucchini, cut in 4, lengthways, then julienned

watermelon radish (the bright pink in the picture), sliced, then julienned

orange, skinned and segmented,

jicama, sliced then julienned,

fresh fennel bulb julienned

fresh figs, quartered, the cubed

handful of basil and mint, some sprigs of fresh rosemary

Combine, then dress with an emulsion of olive oil, dash of chili oil, balsamic vinegar, squeeze of lime, a pinch of salt and some water (taste as you go and whatever is out of balance, add more of that)

Enjoy!

Sweet Jaysus Jicama Beet and Avo Salad with Gorgonzola and Cumin Garlic Dressing

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This was a “What’s in the fridge?” kinda salad. I’ve been so busy with cheese orders that I’ve neglected to cook for my Beloved who’s working on two big architectural projects. I was feeling GUILTY! Nothing better than a gorgeous salad to repent with.

This is a jicama, beet, avo salad with garlic cumin dressing.

Jicama (the white vegetable in the picture) is a Spanish vegetable which is described as a cross between a yam and a turnip.

jicama

jicama

It’s crunchy, a bit sweet and very refreshing. You could just eat it plain and thoroughly enjoyed it as well. You can find jicama at every fresh vegetable market. If you didn’t see it, you probably just weren’t “looking” for it. I’ve not seen jicama in any traditional Taiwanese dishes so I’m always curious about why we have them so plentifully, here. Make hay, people. Make hay.

So to make this salad:

  • Slice jicama as uniformly as possible
  • Wash, peel and slice beets as uniformly as possible
  • Slice and core avo then rub each slice with lemon juice to maintain its colour
  • Arrange on plate as in the main picture.

Dressing

Can you see the bits of cumin powder, black pepper and garlic?

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  • Finely crush 3 cloves of garlic and put it in a bowl
  • 1/2 – 1 tablespoon of freshly-squeezed lemon juice OR 2 tbls cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp of freshly-crushed black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt depending on how large your salad is. In this picture, I used 1 medium beet, 1/2 a medium jicama and 1/2 avo so added 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp powdered cumin and a few sprinkles of whole cumin for texture and bursts of cuminy-goodness

Lightly hand-whisk.

This dressing was inspired by one of my many searches which revealed Cuban chef, Marciel E. Presilla

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Finally, crumble well-aged gorgonzola on top.

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Disfrute!