Hello Fellow Gourmands!
Gourmet Girl Gail here writing from Santa Barbara where the weather is heating up. August tends to be one of the warmest months here and elsewhere . . . the dog days of summer is a phrase that comes to mind. When temps reach into the 80s and upwards I tend to stay out of the kitchen and opt for the barbecue or simply make some delicious salads.
Did you ever wonder where the salad originated from? HuffPost wrote about it a couple of years ago and it’s an interesting short read.
Maybe you remember the Jell-o salad from the sixties? I do. Not my favorite, I have to say. Or the Cookie salad reportedly invented in Minnesota. I missed that one, and maybe it’s a good thing. The main ingredients are Keebler Fudge Stripe Cookies, buttermilk, vanilla pudding, frozen whipped topping and mandarin oranges!
And who said “real men don’t eat salads?” Or was that quiche?
Anyway, again Huff Post has come up with 15 salads even “manly” men will eat. Love the sad desk salad entry! Seriously, though, these salads are going into my salad repertoire.
Lately, I’ve concocted a couple of salads myself worthy of writing home about. The first is a recipe my sister, Sandra, brought with her to our rendezvous in Desert Hot Springs this past winter: a spinach, beet and lentil salad.
I take a shortcut with this salad. Instead of cooking up my own lentils and beets, I buy Melissa’s already prepared ones. They’re fantastic, and it keeps the heat out of the kitchen!
Sandra’s Spinach, Beet and Lentil Salad
- 1 1/2 cups spinach
- 1/2 cup cooked lentils
- Sliced beets
- 2 tablespoons shaved carrots
- 2 tablespoons chopped walnuts
- 2 tablespoons feta cheese
- Balsamic dressing
- Put spinach, lentils, and beets in a salad bowl. Top with shaved carrots, walnuts and feta cheese. Drizzle oil and balsamic over all and toss. Easy peasy!
The second salad is a grilled quail salad and a bit more time intensive, but worth all the effort. I adapted this recipe from D’Artagnan, the renowned gourmet food purveyor, famous for providing humanely-raised meats, from game and foie gras to organic chicken and prepared charcuterie. Since I couldn’t find fresh semi-boned quail in my neck of the woods, I bought frozen quail legs at a local market and grilled them to perfection (like in two hot minutes!).
Grilled Quail Salad
- 1 pack semi-boneless quail
- 3 teaspoons Dijon mustard, divided use
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 lemon, juice and zest
- Olive oil, as needed
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh mixed herbs, we used tarragon, chives, thyme, and chervil
- 1 teaspoon honey, plus more to taste
- 1 head leaf lettuce, like green Oakleaf or Lolla Rossa
- 1 cup sugar snap peas, cut in half
- 1 large ripe peach, pitted and cut into 8-12 slices
- 1 generous handful ripe blackberries
- ½ cup best quality whole milk ricotta, we used Bellwether Farms basket ricotta
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped chives
- Pat quail dry with paper towels, leave grill pins in. In a large bowl, whisk together 1 teaspoon of Dijon, half of the lemon juice and zest, and about ¼ cup olive oil. Stir in mixed herbs. Add quail, turning to coat in the mixture. Cover and set aside for about 15 minutes. (The quail can be marinated for up to 4 hours if desired, just cover and refrigerate until ready to cook. Bring birds out of the fridge about 20 minutes before grilling.)
- Preheat a lightly oiled grill or grill pan to medium-high. Place the quail on the grill breast side down, a few inches apart. Grill for about 3 minutes then carefully turn over and continue to grill until birds are just cooked through, about 3-4 minutes more. Remove to a platter to rest for 5 minutes.
- To a medium bowl, add the remaining 2 teaspoons of Dijon; season with salt and pepper. Add remaining lemon juice and zest; whisk together until smooth. Add about ¼ – ½ cup of olive oil in a thin stream while whisking constantly until emulsified. Whisk in honey. Taste for seasoning – if the dressing is too sharp, add additional olive oil. Add honey, salt, and pepper to your liking. Set aside.
- Arrange lettuce on a large serving platter. Arrange snap peas, peaches, and blackberries evenly over the lettuce. Drizzle about half of the dressing over the top. Set aside.
- Cut the wings off the quail and discard (or add to your stock bag). Cut the legs off the quail and cut each breast in half. Arrange the boneless breasts and drumsticks evenly over the lettuce; dot ricotta evenly over the salad. Garnish with chives. Drizzle the remaining dressing over the top or serve on the side.
These are two perfect summer salads for a picnic or backyard gathering! And don’t forget the salads in The Gourmet Girls Go Camping Cookbook.
We feature a Caprese Salad, Grilled Caesar Salad, Grilled Peach and Prosciutto Salad, Tomato, Feta, and Watermelon Salad, and more! All great salads to wind down the summer with.
So get your salad on with one of these delightful recipes! And enjoy the rest of the dog days of summer.
Until next time,
Gail, Denise and Lindsey