Kamille's Ultimate Birthday Salad
by: Kamille Scellick | Redeeming the Table
Have you ever watched Tyler Florence on the Food Network? One thing I always loved about him is his use of the word “ultimate.” Everything was, “And you gotta try my ‘Ultimate’ Chicken Pot Pie,” or, “Those other cheesecakes were good, but this here is the ‘Ultimate’ cheesecake.” I admired how confident he was by using such an adjective to describe each of his dishes.
Shall I be so bold to use such a word to talk about this salad? I had this idea in my head for my birthday celebration feast. A salad, which utilized all of the five tastes (bitter, sweet, salty, sour, & umami), along with a complex textural bite is “ultimate” in my book. That’s exactly what this salad delivers. You get the bitter from the spicy salad greens, the sweet from the figs, the salty from the prosciutto (I daresay, beats bacon), the sour from the chevre & vinaigrette, and the umami from the walnuts. Then, you add in the fresh, licorice crunch of the fennel to make a dinner into a feast. And that my friends, is what I call the “Ultimate Salad,” possibly meal in one.
- 4 cups spicy salad greens
- ½ pint fresh figs
- ¼ cup coarsely chopped walnuts
- ⅛ lb prosciutto (you can get nitrate-free, pastured-raised from Old World Deli)
- 1 bulb fennel, thinly sliced
- ½ - 1 ounce chevre, goat cheese
- 1 shallot, minced
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 Tb red wine vinegar
- ½ tsp dijon mustard
- pinch of salt & grind of pepper
When cutting a shallot, you want to cut it the same way you would an onion (demo here, except smaller slices) & set aside. Combine your olive oil & red wine vinegar into a measuring cup. Add the dijon mustard & whisk with a fork to create an emulsion. Add shallot, salt & pepper. Taste to make any adjustments. Set aside.
SALAD:Wash & dry your salad greens. Follow the directions below by prepping your bowl with vinaigrette & salad greens, reserving 2 Tb of vinaigrette for the end (and use your nicely washed hands to mix). Fennel comes with the feathery fronds, stalks, & a bulb. You will cut off the stalks & fronds to be left with just the bulb. It is similar to an onion, so thinly slice off the bottom portion to remove the dirty & hard part. Slice the bulb in half & either slice very thinly with a sharp chef’s knife or using a mandoline cutter. Add this to the salad & mix throughout.
Tear or cut your prosciutto in half lengthwise & roll it up (not tightly). Place it throughout the salad. Gently rinse the figs & cut the stem portion off. Slice in half & arrange on salad. Sprinkle your walnuts on top & then crumble up the chèvre to do the same. Very lightly finish with 1-2 Tb of vinaigrette.
- Bowl: you want a bowl with a large circumference with about 3 inch sides. Avoid those really big mixing bowls.
- Pour your vinaigrette into the bowl by drizzling it around the outer edge of the bowl. This avoids over dressing your salad greens.
- Add your greens and mix to combine it with vinaigrette, until you have a nice thin coating.
- After your greens are dressed, begin to add the other components evenly on top. Again, lightly drizzle just a bit of the vinaigrette on the salad (use a light hand), so that it gently kisses the remaining components.
- When serving, use big salad tongs to get a bit of everything for each person.