This post first appeared on Chicagoist.
With the warmer weather upon us, we’ve been outside exercising more and not really into the heavier meals we enjoyed during our winter hibernation. What we’ve been digging is a well-made salad for a meal, but salads can get really repetitive and boring if you’re not careful.
Our issue has been that we’ll make one great salad and then keep making it until we’re so sick of it we either can’t stand the sight of salad just throw random things from the fridge into a bowl, top it with dressing and it doesn’t mesh. So, we’re declaring this to be the summer of salads, one in which we really try to execute many different delicious salads with flavors that compliment each other. And, of course, when we find some good ones we’ll share them with you.
Our first salad winner this season was this grilled-salmon salad with a homemade tomato vinaigrette. We found the slight spiciness and sear of the salmon was perfectly offset with the sweetness of the tomatoes and the tartness of the vinegar and goat cheese. The pine nuts added a great crunch. If you set the salmon on the top of the salad still warm and then mix it all up, the goat cheese will melt and get very creamy, which we loved.
Oh, and at first we were a little put off by making our own salad dressing, but seriously, it took about 5 minutes. So easy and tasty, it’s worth the extra effort. We paired this salad with a sunny deck, a glass of Riesling and a stack of unread magazines. Perfect.
1 1/2 pounds boned, skinned salmon fillet, cut into 4 equal pieces
3 Tbsp. light brown sugar
1 Tbsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
8 oz. salad mix
4 oz. fresh goat cheese, crumbled
1/4 c. minced green onions
1/4 c. pine nuts
Rinse salmon and pat dry. In a bowl, mix brown sugar, cumin, chili powder, and 1 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Place salmon in bowl and rub pieces all over with spice mixture. Cover and chill at least 30 minutes or up to 4 hours.
Lay salmon on a barbecue grill over a solid bed of hot coals or high heat on a gas grill (you can hold your hand at grill level only 2 to 3 seconds); close lid on gas grill. Cook, turning once, until a thermometer inserted in center of thickest part reads 140°, 6 to 8 minutes total.
Meanwhile, divide salad mix equally among four plates. Place a piece of salmon on each mound of greens. Drizzle salads equally with tomato vinaigrette and sprinkle evenly with goat cheese, green onions, and pine nuts. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Makes 4 servings
1 c. diced firm-ripe tomatoes (about 8 oz.)
1/4 c. red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp. minced shallot
1/2 tsp. dry mustard
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
In a bowl, combine tomatoes, vinegar, oil, shallot, mustard, salt, and pepper. Mix well.
Makes about 1 cup