With summer in full swing, it is really nice to have a light salad for lunch. But, why go with the boring old iceberg lettuce and ranch style dressing (Two items that shouldn’t even be considered as food, in our book. The first is tasteless, the second just tastes bad.), when it takes about the same amount of time to whip up a delicious salad that you’ll remember for days?
This is one of those salads that originate when you look in the fridge with the idea that you want something for a quick lunch, and you piece it together bit by bit. When we looked, we saw that we had a bag of arugula in the crisper. It’s kind of peppery and strong, so we want something a bit sweet along. Well, glory be, there’s an apple. That ‘ll work well. Now, how to have an apple and arugula? Let’s go with a salad! Dressing? We could do raspberry vinaigrette, but, wait, how about orange for a difference? Yeah, let’s go with the orange. Then, to round out a salad into a light meal, all we need is a handful of nuts, and some salty cheese. For us, these are easy; we keep walnuts in the freezer, and we almost always have Parmesan cheese on hand. There we go! Let’s scratch it.
Makes 2 salads
With salads, almost every ingredient counts, so use those that are fresh and full of flavor. Use a crisp, sweet-tart apple, such as Fuji, or even a Granny Smith. For olive oil, we happen to get some from a (semi-) local mill (Queen Creek Olive Mill) that is full of flavor. We like it enough that we buy it by the gallon. Oh, the tiny bit of mustard isn’t there for flavor so much as to help the oil and vinegar emulsify. Note that the oil and vinegar are in that 2-to-1 ratio for a vinaigrette (some people go as high as 3 parts oil, 1 part vinegar; we think that tastes oily).
Procedure in detail:
Toast Walnuts. For this small amount of walnuts (or any nut for that matter), we like to put them in a small skillet and toast them directly on the stove-top. It takes no longer than doing them in the oven, and doesn’t heat the house. Just turn the burner on to medium, place the skillet with nuts on it, and toast, stirring occasionally, until they begin to brown. Pay attention, because nuts can go from toasted to burnt quite rapidly.
Assemble salad. For a salad that will be your main, presentation is important. Think about how it’ll look. Sure, you could tumble it all together, but take the extra minute to arrange it attractively. We did a circle of apple slices, a mound of arugula, surrounded by toasted walnuts, and then topped it with Parmesan shavings.
Make vinaigrette. In a small bowl, whisk together vinaigrette ingredients until well blended, about a minute. Don’t worry if the dressing doesn’t completely emulsify, just as long as you can break the oil into droplets so you won’t be biting into arugula leaves covered only in oil.
Drizzle and serve. Immediately drizzle the vinaigrette over the salad, and serve it up.
For a quickly-thought-out salad, this has a nice combination of flavors. The sweet, crisp apple did cut some of the peppery-ness of the arugula, the orange juice added a hint of sweetness that helped to counteract any bitterness, and, you can’t help but like a bit of Parmesan on top. Four stars.