Ottolenghi-inspired Salad

The making of a great salad is simple: a variety of crunchy greens, succulent fruit, roasted or toasted nuts, aromatic cheese, and tart vinaigrette. This recipe draws inspiration from the Ottolenghi cookbook.

“And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.”
― F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

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I put down my book, took off my sunglasses, took a sip of ice-cold lemonade, and plunged in the pool.

My favourite season has officially arrived.

I love everything about summer. I love going to the beach with my family and taking a dip in one of the most beautiful beaches this side of the globe. I love feeling the cool ocean breeze in my hair as I surf. I love diving into pristine waters and discovering the diverse marine life that resides in the deep blue sea. I love building sand castles and memories with the little ones. I love the taste of saltwater on my lips as Mr. Flintstone and I sling back a margarita or two.

I love grilling food in the summer—from chicken satay to babyback ribs. I love grilling fish, grilling vegetables—I even tried grilling tofu much to the chagrin of the house help who ended up cleaning the grill!

What I don’t like though, is getting bloated during bikini season.

One thing I’ve learned from Ashtanga yoga class is it is possible to eat lean and clean without sacrificing flavour. And so for our family’s annual barbecue cookout—I decided to trade fatty slabs of ribeye for spiced up chunks of beef sirloin. In short, this year, it’s less like Bobby Flay, and more like Yotam Ottolenghi.

For starters, we have watermelon and arugula salad, studded with feta cheese and toasted pine nuts, and drizzled with red wine vinaigrette. Sweet, nutty, salty, and tart—this salad not only tastes good, it is actually good for you. Our main dish is grilled beef kebabs marinated in olive oil, lemon juice, cumin, red pepper, coriander seed, and zatar, served with a cool yogurt tahini dip. The grilled beef kebabs are accompanied by grilled vegetable kebabs, grilled corn, and aromatic lemon saffron rice with toasted almond. Light, nutritious, and filling—these dishes are as flavourful as they are guilt-free.

Do wash all of this down with a glass of dayap margarita with homemade mango sorbet. I’m not a nutritionist, but with all the vitamin C in there, it may be good for you after all. Don’t take me seriously, I’m kidding!

Or am I?

As for the dessert, well, to be quite honest, it’s not exactly the most healthy choice. It’s composed of buttery puff pastry, succulent peaches, brown sugar vanilla cream with cinnamon and nutmeg, and lastly—salted caramel sauce made more potent by a generous shot of bourbon.

I understand. You worked your glutes off at plana forma classes to look like you haven’t given birth at all. You still have 2 upcoming beach trips. In fact, your swim suit costs more than the plane ride to one of those beach trips! You have the option to skip dessert.

But why would you? :)

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Watermelon, Feta, Pinenut Salad with Red Wine Vinaigrette

Vinaigrette:

1 clove garlic, minced
¼ cup red wine vinegar
Salt
Cracked black peppercorn
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

Watermelon, sliced into triangles
Arugula
Romaine lettuce
Feta
Pinenuts, lightly toasted or sunflower seeds
1 small red onion, sliced thinly

Procedure

1.    Mix garlic, red wine vinegar, salt, and cracked black peppercorn in a large bowl. To emulsify vinegar mixture and oil, slowly drizzle extra virgin olive oil into the vinegar mixture and whisk vigorously until the vinaigrette is homogenous. Set aside. (If emulsification breaks, simply whisk again).
2.    Drizzle red wine vinaigrette over watermelon, arugula, and romaine lettuce. Top with thinly sliced onions, feta, and toasted pine nuts.
3.    Serve!

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