Saturday, April 16, 2011

So there's this salad ...

So there’s this salad. It’s a simple salad, but it tastes like a stroke of genius. I’m a little obsessed with it. It’s the perfect combination of crispy and crunchy, salty and sweet, acid and fat, with just a touch of bitter.
As with most recipes, there is more than one way to make it. The original idea came from the Montreal restaurant, Macaroni Bar. I’ve never been there, but two of my husband’s aunts (my aunts-in-law?) have, and after eating this salad there, they made sure they got the recipe. I have to say, I am very glad they did, because I think my life would be just that much darker without it. Yes, it’s really that good. Have I mentioned how lucky I think I am to have family members who love to cook as much as I do? The original has a base of arugula and pears, but I like to do it with arugula and cherry tomatoes as well.
This salad, as with most salads, really is all about the dressing. It’s about the right ingredients, the best quality ingredients, and the perfect proportions of each. So, remember these three—yes, only three—ingredients: white balsamic vinegar, extra-virgin olive oil, and honey.
Of course, there is salt and pepper as well, and parmesan. You can’t leave out the parmesan. It’s all about the parmesan … OK, it’s all about the dressing and the parmesan.
To make the dressing, combine two parts olive oil to one part balsamic, and a teaspoon or a little less of honey. Whisk, taste, adjust, and season with salt and pepper. You know the drill.

After tossing everything together, season with some more salt and pepper. It’s best to use coarse salt, like kosher or sea salt, because getting a bit of salty crunch in there just puts this salad over the edge. If you have a fancy salt that you never know what to do with, here would be a great place to feature it.
Finally, serve it alongside a delicious meal. Or, have it as its own meal. Trust me, a bite or two of this, and you won’t want to eat anything else.

Arugula Salad
Adapted from Macaroni Bar, Montreal
Makes about 4 side salads

1 tbsp. white balsamic vinegar
½-1 tsp. honey
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
3 oz. arugula (preferably baby arugula)
1 Bosc pear, thinly sliced OR 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
½ cup (or more) freshly grated parmesan

Combine the white balsamic and the honey. Whisk in the olive oil, taste, and season with salt and pepper. If necessary, add more vinegar, honey, or olive oil, as needed.

Toss together the arugula and pear or tomatoes. Toss in the vinaigrette and parmesan. Sprinkle on some additional salt and pepper. Serve immediately.


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  2. I'm growing arugula and cherry tomatoes, sadly no pears, this summer so we'll have this salad for sure!!!

  3. Ann, I have pears in my back yard I'll bring some over and we can have yummy yummy salad!