Okay, so I know for some of you 97F degrees isn't the end of the world, but here in the temperate city of Seattle, WA it comes close. You see, we're not made for this kind of weather. Nobody has air conditioning and most of us instantly burn to a crisp when the sun comes out. Yes, the rumors are true. It does rain quite a bit in Seattle and any true Seattlite worth their salt likes it that way. So when a freakish day, in a so far nicely mild July, nearly reaches near 100 degrees some people tend to feel like the apocalypse is coming. Although I may have over-reacted a bit, I do hate this damn heat. I lived a bit of my earlier years in Miami, FL and I feel like I got enough sun to last me a lifetime.
In this kind of heat you still have to eat (I'm a poet and yes, I know it). Salads are the perfect way to cook without cooking. However finding that balance of refreshing and light yet filling can sometimes be a challenge. Balance is always the key to a great salad (and pretty much any meal). Using sweet ingredients, add something savory. Using something bitter, add something with acidity. Simply adding a protein to a salad can turn it into a delicious meal. And no, it doesn't necessarily have to be a big slab of meat. It can be beans, tofu, fish, bacon (yum), cheese, whatever you like. Like I said, balance is the key.
So anyways, like I was saying today was nearly 200 degrees and my poor cat Clara was melting to the carpet. I wanted to make dinner for my lovely wife who was coming home from work soon so I decided to make a salad that would satisfy our appetites. I made a Organic Fennel Slaw with Smoked Pink Salmon, Brandywine Tomatoes, and Mint Oil.
1 bulb fennel, very thinly sliced (use a mandolin if you have one)
6 oz smoked salmon, thinly slice
1 medium shallot, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp capers
1 Tbsp fresh dill, chopped
1 Tbsp fennel fronds, chopped
2 tsp dijon mustard
2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 Tbsp olive oil
kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper
1 bunch of mint, roughly chopped
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 brandywine heirloom tomato, sliced thinly
1 Tbsp fried shallots
In a bowl, toss all of the slaw ingredients together.
For the vinaigrette, whisk together the mustard and vinegar with a pinch of salt and pepper. While whisking, slowly drizzle in the olive oil to emulsify. Pour the vinaigrette over the slaw and toss lightly.
To make the mint oil, put the mint and the olive oil in a blender and puree for 20 seconds. Strain though a cheesecloth to remove the mint pulp. Funnel into a bottle and refrigerate until needed.
On the plate, place a few slices of the heirloom tomato. In the center pile a mound of the fennel slaw. Garnish with a few sprigs of dill and a pinch of fried shallots. Drizzle some mint oil around the plate. Eat with your favorite cold white wine and then find some air conditioning.