Such is the culinary world these days that you can get recipes in more places than ever before. Aside from cookbooks and magazines, there’s everybody’s darling, the internet. Then, there is another source of recipes that always yields its share of gems for me…and that’s restaurant menus. Ok, maybe they don’t actually have recipes on there, but they do have ideas (from professional chefs no less!) which eventually can become recipes. Recipe potentials if you will. Haven’t you ever craved for that favorite dish from your favorite restaurant but didn’t feel like eating out? Or, have you ever been so captivated by a description on a menu, then have the actual dish fall short of its golden promise?
My solution: Take some notes, build up your patience and perseverance, and start experimenting. There are treasures waiting -- not to be discovered, because they are on the menu for everyone to see -- but to be cleverly nicked and enjoyed wherever, whenever, and however you want.
This dish was inspired by a salad at a friend’s restaurant. Just reading the description, I knew this salad was for me: an arugula salad, with apple, walnuts, and gorgonzola. Arugula is by far my favorite salad green. I love its strong peppery taste and assertive personality. I even like the way it smells. When I imagined it, I pictured juicy grated apple weighing down a mound of arugula, though I wasn’t about to tell the chef to whip out his box grater ahora mismo during a busy dinner service. So when I got home, I made it myself instead.
Arugula and Apple Salad
(Thank you Chelsea for the inspiration!)
- 2-3 bunches of arugula (depends on your purveyor)
- 1 small green apple
- 2 heaping tablespoon pistachios
- ¼ cup crumbled gorgonzola cheese
For the dressing (depends how much dressing you like, so I just put the ratios):
- 1 part balsamic vinegar
- 3 parts extra virgin olive oil
- Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
- Make your dressing: place balsamic vinegar and olive oil in a jar (this is one of the reasons I never toss out old jam jars…they make perfect vinaigrette makers), add salt and pepper to taste, screw the cap on tight, and shake it like you mean it! Taste and adjust seasoning.
- Remove the roots from the arugula (if your’s has them), then rinse and dry leaves. Pile on a plate or bowl.
- Using the big holes on a box grater, grate apple (no need to peel) directly onto the arugula (that way the juices get in there too…which will ultimately blend with your vinaigrette).
- Scatter pistachios and gorgonzola on top of grated apple.
- Give your dressing one last, fierce shake and drizzle over the salad.
I found some nice young/baby arugula at the market, so I used that. I also substituted pistachios for the walnuts (I was going for an all green ensemble). It came out exactly as I dreamed it would on that fateful day when I spied its tempting description on a restaurant menu. Each component complements the other perfectly: the arugula’s peppery bite tempered by the sweetness of the apple, complemented by the nuttiness of the pistachios and pungency of the gorgonzola, all tied together by a simple balsamic vinaigrette. Sweet and savory success!
This is my entry to this week's round of Weekend Herb Blogging. You can learn more about arugula here. Aside from salads, you can turn this tasty leaf into pesto, stuff it in sandwiches, add it to a pasta, and even to a quick (very quick) stir-fry and serve it as a side for steaks. This event was started by the fantastic Kalyn of Kalyn’s Kitchen and is hosted this week by Ulrike from Kuchenlatein.