Pairing with Salads

on Monday, 24 October 2011. Posted in Food & Wine

Easy and very delicious!

Salads are wonderfully fresh additions to the menu considered when pairing with honey wine. I find that it's easy to lose sight of the breadth of all the possible choices for dinner when starting to "cook". I end up focusing on the traditional heavy hitters like chicken, fish or lamb and so automatically fire up the stovetop and/or oven to prepare a meal. But let's step back and think of this salad alternative for a moment. Crisp, refreshing and potentially very satisfying. I find that the approach that works for me is to have a well stocked vegetable "presence" in the refridgerator. I don't mean vast quantities of just one or two veggies but small quantities of as many local, fresh offerings as you can find. At the farmer's market I find some new colors of carrots so I'll pick up one or two carrots of each color, not bunches. One beet, one small bunch of radishes, one of each heirloom tomato, and so on. You get the picture. Find some local blue cheese or a harder type at your favorite vendor, and some spicy greens like arugula. At your favorite organic foodstore pick up some guilty pleasures "from away" like avocado, walnuts and almonds as well as artichoke hearts and a can of chickpeas. If you cook just a little, then hardboil some eggs to keep handy to garnish your salad. The trick to not overcooking hardboiled eggs is to bring them to a boil in plenty of water to cover and then turn the heat off but leave the eggs in the water. Wait 6-7 minutes, pull them out and put them in some cold water to cool off. Done. The whole pot and pan "now I've got to wash the dishes" fiasco is neatly sidestepped when you make salads for dinner. I usually get by with a vegetable peeler, my chopping board and trusty chef's knife and a box style vegetable grater. I do not use a cuisinart or mandoline unless it's salad for multitudes of friends.

I paired this salad with Wild Blue, a lovely, fruity honey wine that tastes of Maine blueberries and has a warm subtle finish. It has a bed of arugula and a variety of fresh vegetables. Rather than serve a "tossed salad" I assemble salad in individual bowls where some ingredients just get tumbled in but others I will place carefully to get some color contrast going. In that regard I will speak highly of the red beet, especially at this time of the year they are sweet and crunchy. They do not need to be cooked. If you have not yet tried raw beet in a salad you should. Just peel and grate as you would a carrot. The main colors in this salad are orange and yellow carrots and red beet, along with green pepper  and avocado. Add your favorite dressing and enjoy! 



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