Soups & Salads
This is an unexpected salad pairing that I recently discovered at Pulcinella da Stefano, or Stefano’s as we locals call it here in Chiang Mai. Contrary to what you may think, the earthy flavor of roasted beets paired with the sunny topical flavor of mango is a match made in…well, paradise. Beet root is locally grown here in Thailand and available year round as are many varieties of mango. Adding some locally grown figs, grapes, and dressing this salad with a smooth nutty cashew vinaigrette is the perfect flourish to bring this salad with a tropical twist to life.
The recipe that follows is my interpretation of Stefano’s salad but open to variations centered around local and seasonal produce available where you live. Mangoes can usually be found in specialty food stores as well as Asian markets.
Pulcinella da Stefano Italian restaurant is a long standing favorite for locals here in Chiang Mai as well as visitors from abroad. Conveniently located near Thaphae Gate and well worth a visit!
Beet Root Salad with Mango and a Cashew Vinaigrette
Prepare in advance:
Suggested selection of salad greens: romaine (cos), red oak leaf, butter head bib lettuce, radicchio , wild arugula (rocket), watercress, and Italian basil leaves as a garnish.
Beets: Roast and prepare the beets in advance.
Fruits: a fresh ripe mango, fresh figs, and seedless red grapes.
Ricotta cheese: (see homemade recipe here)
Cashews: lightly roasted.
Roasted Beets: Preheat oven to 400F/210C
Wash 4 medium size beets and pat dry, leaving the skin on. Place the beets along with a small sliced red onion in a baking pan. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
Cover the baking pan with foil and seal tightly around the edges. Place in the oven and roast for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until the beets are tender; testing by inserting a sharp knife easily into the center of the largest beet.
When tender remove the beets from the oven and set aside to cool, leaving the foil on until the beets are cool enough to handle. Then slip the skins off the beets and trim the stem and roots off the top and bottom. Cut the beets in half lengthwise and slice each half into thin slices. Place in a bowl along with the onions. Drizzle with olive oil, lightly season with salt and pepper, and set aside.
Assemble your salad greens selection in a bowl and toss. Cover and refrigerate.
Peel the mango, slice into bite size strips, cover and refrigerate.
Cashew Vinaigrette: makes 1 cup
- ½ cup lightly roasted cashews, divided
- 2 plump garlic cloves, dry roasted, peeled, and finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons good quality white wine vinegar
- ¾ teaspoon sea salt + more to taste
- several twists of ground white pepper
- ¼ teaspoon red chile powder (optional)
- ½ teaspoon honey
- 5 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 to 3 tablespoons cold water
place 1/3 cup roasted cashews, garlic, lemon juice, vinegar, salt, pepper, chile powder (if using), and honey in a food processor or blender. Process until the mixture relatively smooth. Then, with the machine running add the olive oil in a slow steady stream and continue to process until the dressing is smooth, emulsified, and thick. To thin the dressing, add 1 tablespoon of cold water at a time and pulse until incorporated into the dressing. Repeat this process until the dressing is the consistency of heavy cream. Cover and refrigerate until you are ready to dress the salad greens.
Assembling the salad:
Lightly dress the salad greens and transfer them to individual shallow salad plates.
Place beet slices along with some onions on top or the greens.
Place sliced mango between the beets,
Tuck fresh basil leaves into the salad here and there.
Then add small clusters of ricotta next to the basil leaves.
Place the halved figs and grapes towards the edge of the salad.
Lightly drizzle just a bit more dressing over the salad.
Slice the remaining cashews in half lengthwise and skater over the salads.
Add a light twist of black pepper and serve.
This is my fifth potato salad recipe, but summer has arrived and surely everyone must have some fond memories of summer picnics that always included a potato salad that their mother, or grandmother made with love and affection. Myself included!
Egg and olive salad sandwiches were always my favorite when I was a kid. So an egg and olive potato salad was an inevitable pairing waiting in the wings and I have to say this fresh alternative potato salad that will become a favorite in your ever expanding repertoire to serve for picnics, barbecues, or just about any summer meal.
Egg and Olive Potato Salad Serves 4
For the Salad:
- 3 organic eggs at room temperature
- 3 large gold potatoes
- 1 small yellow onion, diced finely
- 12 pimiento stuffed green olives, halved and sliced
- 1 celery rib, diced finely
- 2 tablespoons thinly sliced Italian parsley leaves
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon mustard seeds, lightly toasted
- flaked sea salt (Maldon)
For the dressing:
- ¾ cup mayonnaise
- 1 garlic clove, peeled and finely grated
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- ¾ teaspoon mustard powder
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
- 3 tablespoons Greek yogurt
- 1 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon salt or to taste
- reserved cooked egg yolks
Suggested for a bed of salad leaves: romaine, iceberg, cabbage chiffonade, radicchio leaves, wild rocket (arugula), or others that are in season.
Bring a sauce pan of water to a boil. Add a tablespoon of salt. Gently lower the eggs into the boiling water. Reduce the heat slightly. Once the water returns to simmer continue cooking for 5 minutes. Then turn off the heat, cover the pan with a lid, and set aside for 10 minutes. Prepare an ice water bath in a separate bowl. Transfer the eggs to the chilled ice water bath and set aside until completely cool. Then remove the eggs, gently bash them a few times on the work surface, peel them under running water, and set aside to air dry. When dry, slice the eggs in half lengthwise, remove the yolks and set them aside in a small bowl. Coarsely chop the egg whites and set aside.
Place the whole unpeeled potatoes in a steamer and steam for 30 minutes, or until tender when pierced with a small knife or bamboo skewer. Set the potatoes aside until cool enough to handle. Then gently peel them under cold running water. Slice the potatoes in half lengthwise, cut into bite size pieces, and set aside to cool.
In a large mixing bowl combine the potatoes, onions, egg whites, sliced olives, diced celery, and sliced parsley leaves. Season with salt and pepper and toss vigorously, bashing the potatoes around a bit, until the ingredients are well mixed.
Combine all the salad dressing ingredients, except the cooked egg yolks, in a small mixing bowl. Using a silicone spatula press the egg yolks though a wire strainer positioned over the dressing bowl. Then whisk the dressing until nearly smooth. Taste and season with salt and pepper to your liking.
Pour the dressing over the salad ingredients and fold in until all the ingredients are evenly coated with the dressing.
Combine a selection of assorted salad leaves in a bowl. Add a couple of splashes of red wine vinegar and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and toss. Arrange a bed of dressed leaves in each salad plate. Lightly add the egg and olive potato salad over the greens. Sprinkle with the toasted mustard seeds and some flaked sea salt and serve!
This is an ideal light yet abundantly flavorful vegetarian dish to consider when putting together summer meals for family and friends. Traditionally Gobhi Panch Phoron is usually served with yellow rice, a dal, and some pickled vegetables, but this dish also pairs beautifully with a selection of summery western style vegetables, grains, and salads.
A trip to your local spice purveyor may be required, but otherwise the preparation for this dish is a breeze. In no time at all there is a heady aroma of exotic sizzling seeds wafting through the kitchen and brilliant turmeric hued cauliflower florets dancing away in a hot skillet. This is fun and lively cookery that delivers some light and spicy Indian taste bites that are sure to please!
Panch Phoron seed mixture is the flavor base for this dish, but the seeds are also rich in vitamins, minerals, and anti-oxidants. Cumin seeds have an earthy flavor and aid in digestion. Anise seeds are aromatic with a slight sweetness. Mustard seeds are hot and pungent. Nigella seeds have a peppery smokey flavor. Fenugreek seeds are aromatic with a slight bitterness. The combined seeds are sizzled together in hot oil that unleashes their flavors and aromas before other ingredients are added to the pan, and sauteed.
Make the Panch Phoron seed mixture before you start cooking.
- 2 tsp. cumin seeds (jerra)
- 2 tsp. anise seeds (saunf)
- 2 tsp. mustard seeds ( sarson)
- 2 teaspoons nigella seeds (kalongi)
- 2 tsp. fenugreek seeds (methi)
Combine the seeds and store in a jar with a tight fitting lid.
Gobhi Panch Phoron serves 4
- 1 medium size cauliflower, separated into florets
- 8 oz green beans (optional)
- 2 ½ teaspoons Panch phoron
- 3 tablespoons neutral flavored vegetable oil
- 1 large yellow onion, finely diced
- 1 inch knob fresh ginger, peeled, thinly sliced and minced
- 5 garlic cloves, peeled, and minced
- 1-2 fresh green chilies, seeds removed, finely diced
- 1 teaspoon sea salt + more to taste
- 1/4 to ½ teaspoon red chile flakes
- ¼ cup water
- 1 tablespoon ghee (clarified butter) or butter
- fresh coriander leaves for garnish
I prefer steaming the cauliflower and green beans separately, both al dente, before proceeding with the cooking for this recipe.
Select a wide skillet or a wok with a lid and set it over medium heat. Add the oil to the pan and when hot add the panch phoron seed mixture. Using a wooden spatula, give the seeds a quick stir and then promptly cover with the lid as the seeds will immediately start sizzling and then popping, the seeds rapidly bouncing off the lid. Once the popping stops remove the lid and add the onions. Lower the heat slightly and saute while stirring until the onions are wilted, about 5 minutes.
Add the ginger, garlic, and green chilies and stir while sauteing another 2 minutes. Add a teaspoon of sea salt and the red chile flakes and stir until well combined.
Add the cauliflower florets and green beans (if using) and cook while continuously turning the vegetables for about 5 minutes. You will notice the pan drying out so it is important to keep the vegetables moving so they do not burn or stick to the bottom of the pan.
Then add the water and deglaze the pan using the wooden spatula, releasing any bits sticking to the bottom of the pan. Once the contents of the pan are bathed with the deglazed liquid add the ghee (or butter) and fold it into the ingredients until the vegetables are evenly glazed.
Taste and add salt if needed.
Serving: Spoon the Gobi Panch Phoron into a serving dish, garnish with coriander leaves and serve.
The combined flavors of sweet, sour, salty, spicy, and bitter is what makes Thai food taste so fresh and irresistible, especially here in the tropics where temperatures really soar during the hot season. There is nothing more refreshing than a sweet, sour, salty and spicy Thai papaya salad (som Tam) or a pomelo salad (yam som O) (click here for recipe) to beat the heat. Thai salads inspire a whole new approach salad making in general.
That said the recipe that follows is for a dressing, or sauce if you will, that uses the five pillars of Thai flavors in an east west vinaigrette. Ideal for fresh greens salads, cold noodles, sates, or even western style “wrap” sandwiches.
Thai Basil Cashew Dressing/Sauce Makes 1 cup
- 1 cup Thai sweet basil leaves, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
- 1 shallot, peeled and finely diced
- ½ cup raw cashews, coarsely chopped
- 4 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice + more to taste as needed
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce (nam pla)
- 2 teaspoons palm sugar (or light brown sugar)
- 4 tablespoons light vegetable oil
- ¾ teaspoon sea salt
- 3 to 4 tablespoons cold water
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped Serrano or jalapeno chilies
- 3 teaspoons thinly sliced red Thai chilies including seeds
- ¼ cup fresh coriander leaves
Place the basil leaves, minced garlic, minced shallots, chopped cashews, and 4 tablespoons of lime juice in the work bowl of a food processor.
Place the fish sauce, palm sugar, and a little water in a small pan set over low heat. Heat just until the sugar is melted and then add the mixture to the other ingredients in the food processor. Pulse the processor until the ingredients are broken down, scraping down the sides of the work bowl several times until the mixture resembles a coarse paste. Then, with the processor running add the vegetable oil through the feed tube in a slow steady stream until the mixture is emulsified with an even, somewhat thick texture. Then with the processor running add the salt and the cold water in a slow steady stream through the feed tube until the texture has thinned out somewhat but still stiff.
Add the chopped green serrano or jalapeno chilies, the sliced Thai red chilies, and the coriander leaves to the work bowl. Cover, and pulse several times to just mix those ingredients into the dressing/ sauce without chopping them up.
Stop the processor and taste the sauce and add more salt and/or lime juice if needed.
Transfer the dressing/sauce to a non-reactive container and refrigerate until serving time.