When someone offers to bring a salad to a pot luck, or even better a dinner that you are hosting at your home, do you do a little happy dance? Sometimes, preparing a good salad can be a lot of work! And for whatever reason and this may just be my opinion but I think salads always looks and definitely tastes better when someone else has made it. I was chatting about this fact with some friends at lunch after we played in a golf tournament last weekend. We all agreed on this idea, especially because salads allow people to be really creative with ingredients and they can be like art – no two people prepare them the same way leading to all kinds of beautiful combinations and flavors.
True story, this aforementioned golf tournament has historically been largely a mens’ event with only a handful of women playing over the years. As such, the lunch served afterward was, how shall I say it, less figure friendly with lots of cold cuts on offer, or at least that was the lore I was told about as we started discussing lunch on the back 9. Evidently my pal had offered the friendly suggestion after playing last year to please add some greens to the lunch buffet going forward, no pun intended.
Sure enough, the greens were waiting for us post tournament. We were thrilled, making our little salads from the greens and using the cold cut sandwich toppings to enhance, tomatoes, onions, banana peppers, etc. In fairness, we joked with our greens-focused friend that we would have been fine with the cold cuts, but at the end of the day being greeted by a make-shift salad bar was reallly nice too.
Which reminds me – does anyone remember Souper Salad that used to be here in the Burlington Mall? Oh my I loved that place. It was the first real retail salad bar of its kind and I used to love to go there and pick out what I wanted on my salad and finish it off with a yummy dressing. I think that may be the first place I used sprouts on a salad. Oh and right nearby the mall was the Dandelion Green that my grandparents used to adore and we would go there a lot for our family lunches or dinners. Their salad bar was awesome, with chilled plates and lots on offer, even an excellent pre-tossed caesar salad. They also had two kind of bread, including the brown bread that everyone loves at The Cheesecake Factory, that you could slice yourself at the bar.
I recently chatted with a friend who was hosting another couple for a weekend at their summer house. I think breakfast and dinner is easy when you are entertaining, but what about lunch? If you are not going out to eat, or doing an activity where you can grab lunch afterwards, I love offering guests a salad bar for lunch. To be honest, I have only done this once but it worked so well! Just bowls of all your favorite salad fixings, plus some chicken salad, other kinds of proteins and a few breads. Men and women adore it.
This week’s recipe is inspired by a salad that I purchased at a new place I discovered in a neighboring town. It’s a little spot, specifically named Eva’s Little Kitchen and they offer baked goods and some nicely prepared sandwiches, salads and entrees. I’d love to explore more of their offerings before offering my opinion, but I shared a sandwich that they displayed on their Instagram with my husband that was delish, and also came home with a salad that was referred to as Wolfgang Puck’s Chinois Salad, although quite tasty.
You probably know who Wolfgang Puck is but just in case, he is a celebrity chef based in Los Angeles who is most famous for his restaurant Spago. He has gone on to create a restaurant empire however, including a stand alone named Chinois on Main in Santa Monica where the salad was born, thus the name.
One of the things I loved about this salad was all the colors. Napa Cabbage, red cabbage, radicchio, greens (!), carrot, mango and in my version red pepper, influenced by my Eva’s version. The ingredients come together with a mustard forward dressing that uses rice vinegar, soy sauce, Chinese mustard, sushi ginger, honey, tahini, chili and peanut oils. I swap out a squeeze of mayo for the egg yolk in Puck’s recipe to impart creaminess without using the raw egg. Tossed lightly, the salad is garnished with toasted sesame seeds (I used black sesame), toasted cashews and wonton crisps that you either make at home, but store bought is fine. I used this brand that I found at one of our local farm stands.
My take out salad’s dressing was a little simpler using tahini, soy, sesame oil, rice vinegar, honey, garlic and ginger which you can totally do, but my husband and I really enjoyed the spiciness of the dressing in Puck’s recipe. Next time I make it, I may put a hint of sesame oil in the dressing as that would complement the tahini nicely.
So while nobody is offering to make you this salad and bring it to you, if you make it for someone else you are bound to make them very happy. And it’s fun to make because it’s so colorful and cheerful to look at that it is bound to make you smile. Hey, what’s a little chopping right?
Now, if you don’t have a sweet mango, you can substitute some orange slices. And you can use any kind of greens you prefer. Next time I might use some romaine for additional crunch, rather than the watercress you see below.
I want to link to the original recipe from Rachel Ray’s website that I found when googling around here. For my recipe, I cut most of the ingredients in half because that’s the way I made it. I did add some more salad fixings as I thought the ratios were off but that’s the great thing about salad – it’s flexible! You can double it to serve a crowd, but my halved recipe served my husband and me entree sized salads, wiith a little plate of seconds, and I have about a quarter of it leftover so you could get 4 lunch servings out of this for sure.
Please let me know if you make this and what you think? It makes my day when someone lets me know they have tried a recipe (especially if it works out for them ha ha!).
Remember to please scroll to the bottom of the post where you will find the recipe for Wolfgang Puck’s Chinois Chicken Salad! Until next time…
Other Salad Recipes on the Blog!
Grilled Asparagus and Beet Salad
Armenian Cucumber and Tomato Salad
Shaved Tuscan Kale and Brussels Sprouts Salad
Farro, Citrus and Arugula Salad
Blackened Salmon Nicoise Salad
Chopped Salad with Crunchy Tofu and Brown Rice
Recipe adapted from Rachel Ray's website. The salad is very versatile and you can swap out ingredients if you don't have everything on hand. Orange supremes or mandarin oranges would work well in place of the mango. You could even swap out the chicken and use grilled shrimp instead. Makes 4 lunch sized servings and can easily be scaled for larger groups. Enjoy.
- 1/4 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
- 2 Tablespoons Chinese mustard
- 2 Tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons Tamari or Soy Sauce
- 1 1/2 teaspoons mayonnaise
- 1 Tablespoon honey
- 1 Tablespoon chopped pickled ginger (sushi ginger)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons chili oil
- 1 1/2 teaspoons sesame paste
- 6 Tablespoons highest quality peanut oil
- salt and pepper
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts cooked, sliced or shredded
- 3 cups shredded Napa cabbage
- 1 1/2 cups shredded red cabbage
- 2 cups chopped romaine, watercress or other greens
- 1/2 small head radicchio, shredded
- 1 carrot, peeled into ribbons, julienned or coarsely shredded
- 1 mango, peeled and julienned
- 1/2 red pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
- 1 cup wonton strips, homemade or store-bought
- 3 Tablespoons toasted cashews, chopped
- 1 Tablespoons toasted or black sesame seeds
- In a blender, combine all the dressing ingredients except the peanut oil and process until smooth. Slowly drizzle in the peanut oil while blender is running until mixture is smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Adjust to your palate by adding more tamari, more honey if you like your dressings sweeter or more chili oil if you want it spicier.
- Place all ingredients in a bowl, holding back half of the cashews, wontons and sesame seeds. Add half of the dressing and toss really well to coat. Add more dressing as you desire. Finish with the remaining wontons, cashews and sesame seeds.
This looks so pretty, Val – and yummy! Perfect for this coming weekend when it’s going to be so summery. I’ll let you know how it goes!
Just had to bring salad. Wish I had this list. Beautiful offerings