Tuesday, June 16, 2015

A Dinner of Simply Side Salads

Summer flavors abound in a Cafe Drake HRV mishmash dinner: Chickpea and Bulgar Pilaf, Pineapple and Chile Salad, Ruby Streaks and Beet Greens Salad, Walnuts, Dressed Jicama and Dried Chile Salsa

On a couple of visits to Mexico City, we fell in love with sliced jicama, sold by street vendors who simply doused the raw veggie with lime juice, salt and dried chili powder. We do the same but add a few drops of agave nectar to balance the flavors.

Ruby Streaks, a fern-like, deep red and purple first cousin to mizuna, is a new salad staple at Cafe Drake HRV. The plants are relatively easy to grow. While feathery in appearance, the flavor is far from delicate; think mustard greens meet horseradish. A creamy tahini dressing like the one above contrasts perfectly with ruby streaks' bold taste.

If you can find the time to cut and clean a fresh pineapple, you can make this wonderful, spicy side salad: remove the ends and peel from one fresh pineapple. Core and then chop the fruit into bite-size pieces. Place the pineapple in a large mixing bowl and squeeze over it the juice from one lime. Sprinkle on a bit of coarse salt and drizzle very lightly with olive oil. Stir in 1-2 sliced hot green chilies and a small handful of chopped cilantro and mint. That's it! Goes well with Latin American, Mexican, Indian and South Asian meals. If you like, diced red onion may also be added to the salad as well as one grated carrot.

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