Monday, March 23, 2009

Tapenade Salad

This salad is summer in a bowl. The only way it could be better is in the middle of the actual summer, eating outside and drinking it with a light semi chilled red or a sweet Vouvray. On a bright spring day after a long afternoon chasing the dog around the park it was perfect. I know already that I will be making this again and again. And I usually have a thing against large amounts of raw vegetables piled in one place.

It was somewhat labor intensive but thankfully I have a wonderful sous chef who took over the pain staking job of pitting olives for a half hour. After that the tapenade came together nicely. I didn't put in nearly as many basil leaves at the recipe called for and liked it better that way and I totally omitted the garlic clove as I wasn't feeling up to raw garlic that day. The end resent was a creamy salty delicious tapenade. The recipe makes a much bigger portion than is necessary for the salad so half it or be prepared to have a bunch of very tasty tapenade left over. If I could eat bread I'd be slathering it over a baguette right about now. I'll never buy tapenade again.

The salad itself takes a lot of chopping with the typical fussy Boulud twist on each vegetable. It's gotten to the point that I find his details instructions comforting, I don't have to decide how to cut something up, Boulud has already given it more thought that I ever would. The very thinly sliced fennel really makes the salad, the rest of the veggies combine with it well. I would have put slightly less lemon juice on the salad however, as it was a bit tart and it made the vegetables give off their juices making the bottom portion of the salad soggy and unable to hold on to the tapenade.

Put together and topped with some toasted pine nuts, the raw veggie salad and tapenade was a treat. This recipe made dealing with Boulud's anal retentive cooking style worth it. Sadly it's time to take him back to the library and move on to Julia Child.

Tapenade Salad

1 tablespoon pine nuts
1 cup kalamata olives, pitted
1/2 cup oil
20 basil leaves (used 5 huge leaves and even that was a bit much)
1 tablespoon capers, rinsed and dried
1/2 clove garlic, peeled and germ removed (I left this out)
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest

In a small pan over medium-high heat toast the pine nuts until browned on all sides. (If you're doing the salad too, this would be a good time to toast 2 additional tablespoons pine nuts to top salad.)

Put all the ingredients in a food processor and whir, scraping down the sides as needed until the olives are pureed and ingredients are blended. Season with salt and pepper to taste, with the capers and olives it probably won't need to be salted.

Will last a week in the refrigerator up to a week when tightly sealed.

1 small fennel bulb, trimmed and fronds removed
8 res radishes, trimmed, dried and thinly sliced
1 roasted red pepper, cut into 8 pieces
1 roasted yellow pepper, cut into 8 pieces (I used 2 canned red peppers to save time)
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded, and cut thin in 2-inch lengths
1 scallion, white part only, thinly sliced on bias (I left this out)
1 bunch arugula, stems removed, dried (I used 2 handfuls baby spinach)
1 stalk celery, trimmed and thinly sliced on bias
1 lemon, finely grated zest and juiced

Cut the fennel in quarters and using mandoline shave it into thin slices. Toss fennel in large mixing bowl with all the other vegetables. Season salad with lemon zest, juice, pepper and sea salt.

shaved Parmesan cheese (I thought this was a bit much with the rich tapenade)
2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted

Arrange the salad on chilled plates, top with the cheese and pine nuts. Dot the plates with the tapenade and spoon the rest in a bowl to place at the table in case more is needed to flavor salads.

Original recipe from Cafe Boulud Cookbook.

1 comment:

Sara said...

Oh look! It's my dinner tonight. :)