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Filtering by Tag: salad

Summer Salad #3: Art Project

Suzanne Pollak

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Rule #1 - We first eat with our eyes! Contrasting shapes and colors can be a beautiful thing. The cubes of croutons and logs of carrots make this feel like an art project, painting on the plate.  Flavor becomes a balancing act as well. Academy Croutons and roasted Carrots Vichy deliver the satisfying crunch, complementing the buttery texture of tender lettuce leaves.

Academy Croutons can sit in their frying pan for over a half hour after cooking, soaking up extra olive oil. The wait makes the fried bread even tastier, turning each cube into crispy little bombs delivering crunch, fat, flavor all in one bite. If there is still olive oil in the pan, use it to finish the salad.

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To make Carrots Vichy, peel whole carrots - not baby carrots, not woody large carrots in 5-lb. bags, but carrots in bunches with their leafy tops intact. Cook carrots in a sauté pan over medium heat with a little bit of olive oil and enough water to come halfway up their sides. When a knife tip can barely poke inside the carrot and the water is almost evaporated. Add fresh thyme. Wait till carrots are room temperature to use in the salad, either sliced into 1-inch lengths or simply left whole. Know that these beauties are yummy hot, cold or room temperature for apps and dinner. 

There are two ways to finish this sort of salad. For more crunch, you could add celery. Simply slice across the stalks to get a handful or two of pale green half moons. But if you crave more flavor, spice and fat, then salami is your friend! Thickly slice and dice and toss in salad. A little bit goes a long way. (In our latest version, pictured above, we opted for a few nubs of blue cheese. Delicious!)

Summer Salad #2: Porky Pig

Suzanne Pollak

Why do we love eating decadent fatty meals disguised as salads? Because everyone everywhere loves to be deceived, lulled into thinking their meal was extra healthy. But guess what? This salad is actually healthy, despite the indulgent addition of slow-roasted pork...

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FRISÉE - A lettuce that balances the fattiness with its bitter bite and texture. Remember, one small head delivers way more volume than you can imagine once you separate the leaves and tear them into manageable, bite-sized pieces. Tearing is absolutely necessary. Who wants a mouth full 4” spiky leaves, delicious as they may be?

PORK - We like to make this the day after serving Pork Butt in Milk with Cabbage Slaw for dinner. If you and your guests were not too piggy (pun intended) then you'll have plenty of leftovers. Simply reheat in a frying pan over low heat, or in the turned off oven after roasting the eggplant. The pig will crisp right up.

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EGGPLANT - Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper. Thinly slice unpeeled eggplant. Lay slices on parchment paper. Lightly drizzle olive oil on slices, turn over and drip olive oil on top. There is really no wrong way to do this. After years of making these eggplant slices, we can say for certain that sometimes they turn crispy, sometimes softer, but every time delicious! Roast slices in a 425-degree oven for 15 minutes, turn over and roast another 5-10 minutes, until golden brown on both sides. Some parts will blacken but that is okay. There is a fine line, a few minutes, between a little black, and the burn taking over the slice.

Summer Salad #1: Plain & Simple!

Suzanne Pollak

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When Summer brings a bounty of perfectly sun-ripened fruits and vegetables, there's no need to overdo it! Even dressings have been simplified at the Academy. These days we pour olive oil over salad, not too much, sprinkle a little coarse salt plus several grinds of black pepper. Then we toss salad with our hands. If a lemon happens to be around we might squirt drops on top but sometimes it's oil all the way!

Buy live lettuce because the head keeps cold for a couple of weeks so a meal can come together in a moment. Perfect when you find yourself too hot and bothered to fool with anything else! In the time it takes you to pour yourself a summer cocktail, your bowl of greens and vitamins will be ready and waiting.

MACHE - these leaves are delicate. Don’t take lettuce out of frig until ready to make salad.

TOMATOES - A Summer salad MUST have the ripest most delicious tomatoes you can find. No skimping or trying to save a dollar. Otherwise the salad will not make you swoon. It will just be ho hum. It is impossible to live a beautiful life without regular doses of swooning. Cut heirloom tomato, farmers market tomatoes, or ones grown in your backyard into wedges.

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BLUE CHEESE - We find already crumbled blue cheese a big flavor disappointment, and expensive to boot. Why is this even an option in a grocery store? Buy a wedge of blue cheese, slice off a hefty portion, and use your fingertips to crumble on top of the salad. In biggish clumps so friends and family know the blue cheese you choose was not pre-crumbled by a machine then stored and shipped in a plastic bag.

AVOCADO - The doctor says ‘eat an apple a day’. The Dean says ‘eat an avocado a day’. An avocado is the exact amount of fat you need per day. When the Dean gets her medical PhD she will prove this medical fact. To make an avocado last a few days, keep in refrigerator. Do not buy rock hard avocados. Why wait so long to eat one?

Cut avocado in half, remove pit, remove peel, slice or thickly dice on top of salad.

 

 

The Blues

Suzanne Pollak

Recently, the supremely original Madame Magar stopped by for an Academy lunch, bringing along her sumptuous Indigo-dyed silks, linens and baskets. The artist AKA Leigh Magar remains widely known for her handmade hats sold at Barney's and beyond. But her current "life's work" harvesting and hand-dying with Indigo speaks to the legacy of Eliza Lucas Pinckney, who championed the crop on 18th-century Carolina soil.

A quilt, featuring Eliza Pinckney's profile, hand-dyed and stitched by Mme. Magar.

A quilt, featuring Eliza Pinckney's profile, hand-dyed and stitched by Mme. Magar.

Two years ago, Magar moved from her Charleston home to a Clark & Menefee-designed house on 400 acres in rural John's Island. She planted her own heirloom seeds there and eventually discovered Indigo plants growing wild in the backyard! Instead of making Indigo powder like Eliza Pickney did, Madame adheres to the ancient methods of the Greeks and Romans, soaking Indigo leaves to prepare the dye, and then dipping the softest silks into her dye to fashion napkins, tea towels, aprons, handkerchiefs and scarves. 

The Madame at work...

The Madame at work...

On stacks of indigo-dyed napkins.

On stacks of indigo-dyed napkins.

So, in honor of the Madame of Indigo, we threw an Indigo-themed luncheon. Naturally, front and center stood the Academy Salad, this time gloriously embellished with crispy slices of blue potatoes plus roasted Mepkin Abbey shitake mushrooms. To really guild the lily, the croutons were smeared with whole milk ricotta and drizzled with olive oil. Local heirloom tomatoes added red and yellows to our blue salad. Dessert was more blues in the form of blueberry pie! Who knew the blues could be so delightful?

A Simple Vinaigrette for Any Salad

A. K. Lister

Start with a beautiful wooden bowl.  Add a basic bunch of leafy greens or go ahead and assemble a fanciful mix of late Summer fruit and early Fall root vegetables.  Top it all off with croutons and this quick & easy vinaigrette, which owes its creamy texture not to actual cream but to the magic of emulsification.

There you have it!  You can thank us (and Science) later.

XO, the Academy

SALAD DAYS & SALAD NIGHTS

Suzanne Pollak

Salads are a life staple, so that means salad accoutrements are too.

Dean Pollak has lived long enough to know she has constructed over 25,000 salads. We will not divulge how we arrived at that number -- math is not our strong suit -- but it is absolutely accurate and means you should pay attention.

There are many reasons we insist that you take note of your salad bowls, salad servers, pepper grinders and salt cellars. Foremost, all the paraphernalia is essential in making salads addictive, beautiful, fun to construct, and will get your family on the daily salad wagon without rebuttal. Health concerns are the least of the reasons our lunchroom serves a big bowl everyday. We like fattening salads. We like thinning salads. We like beautiful salads. We like bread salads, also known as panzanella. But we like playing with wooden bowls, like the ones at The-Commons, around the corner on Broad Street, most of all!

Who doesn’t long to fill a gorgeous handmade bowl? Even kids do and will. A big wooden bowl is a thing of beauty. In fact, the only thing more beautiful is several wooden bowls nesting in each other, letting you choose how many people will eat your salad.

Collections are fun to start. We suggest that if you haven’t collected anything yet, you begin with salad bowls. Let us be your guides. As with any collection, done carefully over years, a collection swells and takes up real estate, so the objects might as well be useful to use and beautiful to look at. Handmade bowls will make your kitchen feel more grounded, your knowledge of wood expand, your waistline shrink, your menu decisions easier. Plus, the number of guests eating salad can start at one or grow to twenty -- three full 18-inch bowls will easily feed a crowd.

You can never go wrong serving a salad, whether it's a simple green one or a confetti of colors and surprises. They always delight.

A few suggested themes:

  • Color, e.g. Yellow - yellow beets (roasted early in the day or even a day before, sliced thickly or cubed), wedges of yellow heirloom tomatoes, croutons count as yellow, slices of pear.
  • Simple Green – sliced endive and watercress tossed with blue cheese.
  • Seasonal, e.g. Fall - roasted root vegetables tossed with escarole, radicchio, red cabbage, topped with rare cold steak.

Ancient Wisdom: Get your kids on the job of helping in the kitchen and a green leaf just might make it past their lips.

  • Toddlers can toss the salad. The utensils pictured above are especially easy and fun for little kids to use.
  • Elementary school-aged children can become proficient in washing lettuce in a salad spinner.
  • Middle schoolers can try their hand with knives -- chopping, peeling, and slicing.
  • High schoolers can and should be in charge of dinner at least once a week. Let them dream up their own salad...even if it ends up being popcorn salad, do not judge!

Finally, here are a few Academy salads from the vault...

Happy Healthy!

Academy Croutons

A. K. Lister

Nothing makes our Daily Salad sing quite like giant cubes of bread, sautéed in olive oil.

At the Academy, we've long realized that simple luxuries make the mundane sparkle.  An effortless sleight of hand in the almighty cast-iron skillet gives a guilt-free lunch the illusion of indulgence.  A bowl of vegetables, particularly those perfectly in season, should never bore anyone to tears.  In fact, it could be the very thing that carries you from the salad days of Summer to the Autumn's longing embrace.

For a superlative salad, start with late Summer's leafy greens and slices of ripe fruit, gently tossed with roasted early Fall vegetables.  Just add Croutons.  Here's the secret: don't skimp on the EVOO!  And always remember, "A cold crouton is a useless crouton."