Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Italian Chop Salad, Vino at the Landing

This is my favorite salad ever, so far... I could eat this everyday and be very happy. My boss says it's a man's salad, because it is hearty and filling, but I think it's good for all genders :) There's a lot going on texturally, from the crunch of croutons and crisp bite of brined baby carrots, to the soft chewiness of salami, and the bright juiciness of Roma tomato, it all blends together in a delicious unified whole with the introduction of my creamy Italian dressing.

The secret to a great salad is dressing it properly, adding just enough dressing so you taste it over the greens but doesn't overwhelm the salad and become too rich or heavy. If the greens are wet enough but I want more flavor I add salt, a little salt goes a long way towards boosting flavor, adding a little more acid; a fresh squeeze of lemon juice, never hurts either.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Caprese Salad

For my Caprese salad, or Insalata Caprese, I wanted to stick with traditional flavors but enhance them and tweek the presentation to match my more modern, but still rustic, approach.

I pulled inspiration from my days as a sushi chef and line the tomatoes and fresh mozzarella in a diagonal line across the plate, I then add a pinch of sea salt and fresh cracked pepper, drizzle with olive oil, and top with a thick chiffonade of basil, you can just tear your basil by hand if you like. In addition to olive oil I like a nice drizzle of balsamic reduction. Balsamic vinegar alone is too watery and acidic, unless you buy the expensive stuff, but you can enhance the flavor of the cheap stuff by very slowly reducing on a low flame (this will stink up the kitchen) and then whisk in a bit of sugar off the heat to finish.

This is a great dish to start an Italian meal with, or to have as a main course with a bit of crusty bread. Quality of ingredients is key; make sure to have perfectly ripe tomatoes and flavorful mozzarella, some brands are definitely superior to others...

Monday, September 20, 2010

Tomato Basil Soup

Since putting Tomato Basil Soup on the menu for Vino at the Landing it has very likely become my most requested recipe! It's so simple but delicious, no cream, just pure tomato basil flavor. I won't give out the exact recipe but I will tell you it's loaded with roasted garlic, a touch of sugar to balance the acidity, and finished with shaved Parmesan on top of a little island of house made croutons. You can't beat this for heartwarming, stomach pleasing goodness on a rainy day, of which there are many here in Seattle.