Bobby Flay: With chopped salad, every bite is great
AP Photo | Matthew Mead
"Because a salad typically contains more raw ingredients than cooked, you need to begin by using the freshest ingredients that you can find," the Food Network star said in a recent e-mail interview.
"Also, using a combination of different ingredients that not only complement one another but provide different tastes and textures is equally important. Contrast of textures is an important part of many of my recipes."
Bobby Flay is flexible as to when he eats his salads.
"There are times when I want a light lunch or dinner and I order a salad that is more substantial than a mixed green, but less filling than steak frites. That salad should contain lots of mixed greens, crisp vegetables and some kind of protein (could be grilled tuna or shrimp or chicken)," he said.
"Other times, I prefer to order a salad as an appetizer," he said. "That salad would be a simple salad of mixed greens lightly dressed in vinaigrette or lemon and olive oil or maybe a wedge of crisp iceberg lettuce with vine ripened tomatoes with blue cheese dressing."
For the AP's 20 Salads of Summer series, Flay offered a chopped salad with asparagus and Meyer lemon dressing from his upcoming cookbook, "Bobby Flay's Bar Americain Cookbook."
"I love chopped salads and I have always had a chopped salad on my restaurant menus," he said. "I even named one after my daughter Sophie, which I serve at Mesa Grill and it has been a top seller since the day it first appeared on the menu. So, there was no question that my menu at Bar Americain would include one."
"The asparagus chopped salad at Bar Americain was created for the appetizer portion of the original menu. I loved the idea of grilling the asparagus instead of blanching it because of the slightly smoky flavor it would add to the salad," he said. "I wanted contrast of taste and texture, smoky asparagus, sharp aged cheddar cheese, briny olives, creamy chickpeas and crispy bits of fried pita bread. Dressed lightly in the slightly sweet, slightly tart Meyer lemon dressing makes for a whole plate of perfect bites."
ASPARAGUS CHOPPED SALAD WITH MEYER LEMON DRESSING
Start to finish: 30 minutes
For the dressing:
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/4 cup fresh Meyer lemon juice, or 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice plus 1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 heaping tablespoon whole-grain mustard
2 teaspoons honey
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
For the salad:
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons canola oil
2 pocketless pita breads, halved and sliced 1/4-inch strips
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
1 bunch asparagus, trimmed
6 ounces mesclun greens
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
8 ounces aged white cheddar cheese, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 English cucumber, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1/2 cup pitted and coarsely chopped Kalamata olives
1 cup drained canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained again
To make the dressing, in a medium bowl, whisk together the lemon zest and juice, vinegar, mayonnaise, mustard and honey. Season with salt and pepper. Slowly whisk in the oil until emulsified. The dressing can be made 1 day ahead and refrigerated tightly covered.
To prepare the salad, in a medium saucepan over medium, heat 2 cups of the canola oil until it reaches 360 F on a deep-fat thermometer. Fry the pita strips, in batches, until lightly golden brown and crisp, turning once, about 1 minute. Use a slotted spoon to transfer to a plate lined with paper towels. Season with salt and pepper.
Heat a grill to high or heat a grill pan over high heat.
Brush the asparagus with the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill the asparagus, turning once, until crisp-tender, 4 to 6 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and cut on the bias into 1-inch-long pieces.
In a large bowl, combine the mesclun, tomatoes, cheese, cucumber, olives, chickpeas and asparagus. Add half of the dressing, season with salt and pepper, then toss well to coat. Divide the salad among large dinner plates. Drizzle with more of the dressing and top with the pita chips.
Nutrition information per serving (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 660 calories; 460 calories from fat (71 percent of total calories); 52 g fat (14 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 45 mg cholesterol; 32 g carbohydrate; 16 g protein; 5 g fiber; 950 mg sodium.