Who Knew?

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A while back, I saw a carrot salad somewhere that had these thin strands of–well–carrots. It looked like an interesting way to prepare them. I then promptly forgot about it and went on with my life…until a few days ago when I started this new unit on salad and dressing. Before even knowing what assignments I might have, I started searching for the gadget that provides these thought-to-be tasty tendrils. It didn’t take long to find it: the Spiralizer. It was reasonably priced so I purchased it and patiently waited for it to arrive. More…

A while back, I saw a carrot salad somewhere that had these thin strands of–well–carrots. It looked like an interesting way to prepare them. I then promptly forgot about it and went on with my life…until a few days ago when I started this new unit on salad and dressing. Before even knowing what assignments I might have, I started searching for the gadget that provides these thought-to-be tasty tendrils. It didn’t take long to find it: the Spiralizer. It was reasonably priced so I purchased it and patiently waited for it to arrive.Once it did, I was in the kitchen spinning proverbial straw into gold–or in this case maybe copper. While it took a bit of effort, the carrots came out nicely and we snacked on carrot and apple salad with a splash of Mandarin orange Bai 5 juice (don’t ask). Strangely, it actually tasted really good. In the future, I would recommend real orange juice; maybe with some lemon and oil as well.  The machine itself is not that heavy-duty and if you have a lot to ingredients to turn into spirals, I would not recommend this as the best product, but for small scale cookery, it works just fine.

As it turned out, I did have to turn in a salad assignment in which I was to make a simple salad with no more than five ingredients and make a vinaigrette to pair with it. I debated between making an upscale version of my Bai 5 carrot & apple salad and a zucchini salad. I ended up choosing the latter as it gave me an opportunity to marrying some new flavors. I used zucchini, peas, mint, lemon zest, and red pepper flakes. I chose to spiral cut the zucchini with the Spiralizer which mimicked pasta and added an interesting textural component. In addition to the zucchini, I added peas for a nice pop both in flavor and texture. I paired both with mint as I like mint with both peas and zucchini, and  lemon zest to provide some continuity between the salad and the vinaigrette. The red pepper flakes added a bit of heat and needed color.

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I chose to use lemon, extra virgin olive oil, jalapeno, and garlic in my vinaigrette as I am a bit new to dressing my salads (as I mentioned in my last post, normally I eat dry or with lemon only) and thought that these ingredients marry well with cooked vegetables so they might work well here. I basically prepared my mise en place and then added all the ingredients to a bowl and whisked until all the ingredients came together. I then tasted the vinaigrette to make sure it was balanced, added salt and pepper, and tasted again. A dash more salt was added and it was ready to go.

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I was really happy with final product of the Zucchini Salad with Lemon/Garlic Vinaigrette. This all-raw dish came together rather well. The zucchini’s texture made the salad seem heartier than it actually was which allowed for it to be satisfying as complete meal. As I thought, the mint paired well with the veg; although I was a bit heavy-handed with it. Next time, I will not add so much as it can overpower other more delicate flavors. The peas offered a slight crunch/pop that I thought worked well in the salad. And the jalapeno and red pepper flakes provided a bit of heat, which I appreciated. The vinaigrette was actually better than I thought it would be (given my aversion to salad dressings). Dressing the salad actually brought the flavors together without muddying them. The lemon worked well with all the fresh flavors and actually intensified them; this was especially true with the zucchini. Overall, I was happy with the salad; albeit the abundance of mint. We had it for lunch and it provided a satisfying meal all on its own.

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My instructor was happy with my photo uploads, felt that I did a good job of keeping the salad simple and elegant using seasonal vegetables that showcase a variety of colors and textures. He felt that my vinaigrette utilized flavors that enhanced the overall dish. His feedback was in-depth and I appreciated his input. I did well on this assignment and my current grade is a high A. Can not really complain, can I?

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