Most of the time when we think of salad, we revert to the usual iceberg lettuce bed, a few tomatoes, cucumbers and maybe some cubed ham or turkey if we’re feeling adventurous.
And as for the dressing goes, if we don’t go to the good ol’ store-bought ranch or French dressing, we try to make it healthier with oil and vinegar
But there is such a variety of foods — vegetables, meats, grains, nuts and pretty much an endless array of toppers and ingredients that will surprise you. That’s only for the salad itself.
As far as the dressing goes, there are a few things to know if you want a vinaigrette. A pretty solid formula for a basic vinaigrette is three parts oil to one part vinegar (for example, for 1 quart of dressing, use 1 cup vinegar and 3 cups of oil).
The possibilities for flavoring your homemade vinaigrette vary anywhere from red wine vinegars to a more traditional olive oil to extra virgin to light (it will make a big difference on the final flavor of your dressing). Or try rice wine vinegar and maybe sesame seed oil or rice bran oil for a little more Asian pizzazz and all the little stops in between. Maybe a little orange juice here,
fresh garlic there and as I said, you can really surprise yourself with the flavors that you will discover as you explore your tastes boundaries.
Enjoy your culinary trip.
3/4 lb dried figs
3/4 cup brandy
3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
3 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup honey
1oz minced shallots
1tbsp minced garlic
2 cups olive oil
Chop the figs, shallots and garlic. Combine all the ingredients, except for the water and oil, in a sauce pot and cook (simmer) until the figs have re-hydrated (8-10 minutes). Once cooked, puree them using the stick blender and add the water. At the point when all the ingredients are well mixed, add the oil in a slow, constant stream.
1-2 oz fig vinaigrette
1 oz of candied bacon bits
1/2 oz toasted macadamia nuts
3-4 strips of roasted red pepper
3 oz of washed and blanched chopped kale
1/2 oz feta cheese (or your cheese of preference)
Toss the vinaigrette and kale together and lay on salad bowl top the mixture with the remaining ingredients and enjoy. This is quite a hearty salad and can perfectly substitute a whole meal. Feel free to top it with grilled chicken or steak at your leisure.
Rov Avila, a native of Honduras, is executive chef at YachtSea Grille and a culinary arts instructor at Manatee Tech Culinary Arts.