We wanted to lighten up our latest Deep Run Roots (read about our year-long project here) dining experience, and what better to make than a salad? This wasn’t just any old salad, the collards and the spicy-sweet dressing really kicked this one up into something truly special. We chose the Collard, Carrot, and Raisin Salad (page 432). On a personal note, this recipe also helped me realize something: it turns out I like a kind of raisin…golden ones. I am not a fan of traditional raisins (I think they taste like blood), but it turns out golden raisings are nothing like the other ones. They’re pretty tasty.
I don’t think we had ever built a dressing for salad in a cast iron pan…over heat. But, when it all came together, it made perfect sense. We love collards (see this post about the Gingered Collards), and yet when they’re raw, the texture is a lot denser than traditional salad greens. The hot dressing does just enough to wilt/cook them so that the consistency is much more salad-like. Giving it some time to chill in the refrigerator gives you the same cool experience one typically enjoys in a salad. The particularly great thing about this recipe is that you can chill it overnight- the collards are strong enough to stand up to dressing and still maintain a pleasant, non-slimy texture, which makes this perfect for entertaining. You might put this salad together earlier in the day so you can be looking relaxed and fabulous when your guests arrive (sign me up!).
We decided to use crushed pineapple from a can on this, which was definitely the correct choice. I mean a) how do you make crushed pineapple at home and b) fresh pineapple makes me really itchy (although it tastes so good!). Although the shallots are the technical base of the dressing, it’s really the pineapple. It’s the core (pun intended) of this warm, delightful, dressing slurry. The flavors come from so many different directions, it’s like a party on your palate. It’s sweet, spicy, sour, and savory. It really comes together so well. Be warned, there is some heat on the front side of this, so if you’re not a fan of heat, you might reduce the crushed red pepper amount. We enjoyed it, but we’re spicy people. Keep in mind that there is a fair bit of sweet and acid to serve as a counterpoint to the crushed red pepper, which balances things nicely.
After cooking the dressing and putting it all together, we chilled it for about twenty minutes. Shockingly, there was some of the salad left over, which ended up being a good thing, because we got to test whether or not it could stand up overnight…which it did. It was great for lunch the following day. The mister and I both really enjoyed it and both would pay for it. Additionally, I thought this would be a great thing to make for lunch the day following (or even for a couple of days). There’s enough substance to it that seemed ‘meal-like’, but light enough that you don’t end up with a vicious case of food coma.
What’s your favorite salad recipe?