Fourth Course – Salad! Arugula, Radicchio, and Fennel Salad

salad startIn some establishments, the fourth course of a European Five Course Meal is a salad.   In the U.S. the salad typically comes before the main course but for this blog I’m going with the European style (actually works better with my work week and the weather around here).  I’m very excited about this Arugula, Radicchio, And Fennel Salad.  I had this salad when visiting my mom in California.  We had dinner at an Italian restaurant in her neighborhood, 54 Mint,  and I loved the salad so much we basically dissected it to figure out the recipe.  I found a recipe close to what I wanted at Saveur.com, adding the additional ingredients that were in my salad that night.   The recipe I found is as follows:

Ingredients

  • 4 cups packed baby arugula
  • 1 small fennel bulb, cored and thinly sliced
  • 1 small head radicchio, halved, cored, and thinly sliced
  • 1⁄4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 6 tbsp. olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1⁄2 cup shaved Parmesan
  • 3⁄4 cup toasted walnuts

Instructions

Combine arugula, fennel, and radicchio in a bowl; set aside. Whisk together lemon juice, oil, salt, and pepper; toss with salad. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and walnuts to serve.

My additions:  Baby Olives, Blue Cheese (Feta would also work) and Mandarin Oranges.Hawaiian-Black-Lava-Sea-Salt   We prefer the Plymouth Blue Cheese, the Big Blue, which is made locally.  I used 1/4 cup of Organic Balsamic Vinegar and cut down on the lemon juice – to  two tablespoons.  Spanish Melgarejo Hojiblanca Olive Oil and Hawaiian Black Lava Sea Salt were used in the dressing.   I chilled the mandarin oranges and olives before adding them to the salad.

barberaWe paired this with a Scagliola Mati Barbera.  We also tried a slightly chilled DeLoach Heritage Reserve Pinot Noir but found the complex herb essence of the Pinot Noir competed against all of the different flavors in the salad.  The licorice taste of the fennel and the licorice notes in the Pinot did compliment each other but there was too much going on in the salad to make this a really good pairing.  The Mati Barbera was the better wine pairing with this salad.  This wine had just deloachenough spice to blend with the pepper of the arugula but did not struggle against the balsamic vinegar and fennel.  As with most reds, both the Pinot Noir and Barbera were better after being opened for 20-30 minutes.  I always serve a Pinot Noir slightly chilled – about 60 degrees, especially in warm weather.

We enjoyed this salad, there is a lot going on in it but the flavors meld nicely.  The fennel, radicchio and toasted walnuts keep the crunch going, the arugula provides salad finalenough spice to blend with the cheeses and the oranges give it a touch of sweetness.

Next course is the desert!  Roasted Pears with Blue Cheese – Yum.

Fish Course – Grilled Tuna and Corn Salad & Pinot Noir Rosé Wine

tuna 2Moving right along to the second course, the fish course.  We enjoyed Grilled Tuna & Corn Salad paired with Rive Sud Rosé wine.  We cook our fish more than most people, just our preference.   Corn is plentiful right now and it is oh so good here in Vermont.  This recipe is perfect for our hot weather and end of summer bounty.  I found this recipe on myrecipes.com.  I did not use the cooking spray on the corn or onion, just brushed them with plain olive oil.  I did not use extra virgin olive oil because that does not hold up to the heat as well as plain olive oil butter infused olive oildoes.   I do have a butter infused olive oil that I was considering using but did not want to change up the taste of the corn or onion this time, this is my first time trying this recipe and I do like to keep the recipe as written as much as possible on the first try.

The recipe is as follows:

Grilled Tuna and Corn Salad

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 steak and 1/2 cup corn salad)

Ingredients

  •    3 small ears shucked corn
  •    1/2 small red onion, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
  •    Cooking spray
  •    4 (6-ounce) tuna steaks
  •    1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  •    3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  •    3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
  •    2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  •    1 1/2 tablespoons cider vinegar

Preparation

Prepare grill.

Coat corn and onion with cooking spray; place on grill rack coated with cooking spray. Cover and grill corn 20 minutes, turning 3 times. Grill onion 10 minutes or until tender, turning once.

Brush fish with 1 tablespoon oil; sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Place fish on grill rack; grill 3 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness.

Cut kernels from ears of corn in a medium bowl. Add onion, remaining 1/2 tablespoon oil, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper, basil, and vinegar, stirring to combine. Serve fish with corn salad.

I have to say, this recipe is spot on!  Okay, the changes I made was to use 2 teaspoons of the maine sea saltbalsamic vinegar and 2 teaspoons of rice vinegar instead of 1/2 tablespoon oil.  I also used Maine Sea Salt instead of the Kosher salt because that is what we use here.   I purchase this stuff by the pound and keep it in a bamboo salt cellar.   Nonetheless, this recipe is delicious.  I was skeptical about the lack of flavor in this recipe but the grilled caramelized corn gave a sweetness that set off the vinegars and melded perfectly with the grilled onion.  This is an excellent summer meal because it is completely cooked on the grill, no need to heat up your kitchen.

The Rive Sud Pinot Noir Rosé Wine was ideal.  It set off the flavors of the fish and brought out the sweetness of the corn.  If you’re going to pair this dish with a Rosé Wine, I highly tunarecommend using a Pinot Noir Rosé Wine.  This type of Rosé Wine is very dry and crisp without a lot of fruit.

Second Course, the Fish Course was wonderful, tomorrow is the Main Course; Grilled Lemon Chicken.