Saturday, October 24, 2009

Plain Salad Turned into A Delectable and Gratifying One?

I do have to admit that salads are not my forte when it comes to food. Since I mentioned numerous times before on how much I love meat, salads are usually found last on my list whenever I order my meal at a restaurant or even when I prepare a home cooked full course meal for the family or guests. Now that I've discovered different ways of making a salad more scrumptious looking and tasty, I cannot serve dinner without a stunning salad.

Ever notice that when the salad is served during a dinner party, it's usually the last dish to be consumed or it's the ice-breaker when meeting new people over dinner. It's also considered as the optional side dish. Salads are often ignored but people will eat it simply out of guilt, so as to say that they've eaten a healthy dish, nonetheless.

I've seen mouth-watering and inviting-looking salads served in Italian restaurants that were incredibly well prepared. They were colourful, appealing to the eyes and to tastebuds. Most importantly, they looked like a gratifying main course meal.

Finally, I found that the key to turning a boring lettuce and tomato salad into an appealing and interesting mouth-watering salad is to add a few ingredients that most people would enjoy eating during the main course meal. The salad dish doesn't have to become the dish, it can remain as an appetizer, but still a crowd pleaser. Because I live with someone who is incredibly health conscious, I've learned to prepare "considered boring" foods into delicious and tasty foods. The big test to see if your "boring" dish has indeed become "interesting" is to see if the kids like it. Kids tend to be extremely picky eaters and usually love anything that is rich tasting, or foods that are crispy. They need to hear a "crunchy" or "crispy" sound as they bite into it, and I guarantee that they will love it, unless they have an intolerance to certain foods (such as nuts, shrimps...etc.).

So, to a normal bland lettuce and tomato salad, I drizzled the salad with a wasabi vinaigrette from one of my previous posts, and added a few slices of well roasted and crispy eggplant slices. Depending on how your kids are open to trying out new foods, kids are usually not fans of eggplants because of their "particular odd" taste. But if you roast them correctly so that they become crispy throughout, I've been told by many parents that their kids couldn't even tell they were eggplants . Benefits from eating eggplants can be found here. But here's an excerpt :

Studies of the Institute of Biology of São Paulo State University, Brazil, would have shown that eggplant is effective in the treatment of high blood cholesterol. Another study from Heart Institute of the University of São Paulo found no effects at all and does not recommend eggplant as a replacement to statins.
It helps to block the formation of free radicals and is also a source of folic acid and potassium.
*For this amazing eggplant salad, I added a few artichoke hearts. To have a more complete meal, you can also add canned sardines, which can be either seared in a pan or grilled on a mini indoor grill. Canned tuna or hard boiled eggs can also be added. In fact, you can add anything you want that's easy for you to make and that your tastebuds are calling for.

eggplant slices sprinkled with ground tumeric (curcuma), coarse sea salt, minced garlicm and drizzled with olive oil, before roasting in the oven.
Preparation time : 15 minutes, Cooking time : 10 minutes for the eggplants.

Recipe "au pif":
1 large bouquet of leaf lettuce
("frisé" laitue), chopped in 3-inch pieces
1 serving of wasabi vinaigrette
1 can of artichoke hearts, drain water and cut artichoke hearts in halves
1 large tomatoe, cut into small cubes
1/2 tsp ground black pepper

Wash the lettuce and pat dry or drain out water. Lay the lettuce leaves in a large salad bowl. Add in the tomatoes, the artichoke hearts, the black pepper, then drizzle the lettuce mix with the wasabi vinaigrette. Mix well. Put aside.

Roasted Eggplants with garlic and tumeric:

Preheat oven at 350F

1 baby eggplant, cut into thin diagonal slices
1/2 tsp coarse sea salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp ground tumeric
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp olive oil

Line a large baking pan with parchment paper. I prefer parchment paper over aliminium foil because food doesn't stick to it.

Lay the eggplant slices over the parchment paper, about 1 inch apart.

Sift the ground tumeric evenly over the eggplant slices

Sprinkle the coarse sea salt, pepper,and the minced garlic evenly over the eggplant slices.

Drizzle evenly and generously the olive oil over the seasoned eggplant slices.

Roast for about 10 minutes until the eggplants have browned and edges are crispy.

Lay the eggplant slices over the salad mix.

Serve as an appetizer or a main course meal, by adding hard-boiled eggs, sardines, tuna, anything else that you enjoy eating!

Serves 4-6.

Share and enjoy.

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