Main Course Salads To Segue Into Spring

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Spring has officially begun, but winter weather and winter ingredients still linger. Here & Now resident chef Kathy Gunst combines warm and cold elements and winter and spring ingredients for "segue salads," main course salads that can go from winter to spring.

  1. Asparagus and Roast Salmon Salad with Blood Oranges and Leeks
  2. Roasted Beet Salad with Feta Cheese, Roasted Chickpeas, and Arugula with Chive-Ginger Dressing (plus separate recipe for Roasted Chickpeas)
  3. Vietnamese-Style Rice Noodle Salad with Grilled Skirt Steak, Mint, Carrots and Cucumber
See more recipes and cooking segments with Kathy Gunst

Asparagus And Roast Salmon Salad With Blood Oranges And Leeks

Kathy Gunst's asparagus and roast salmon with blood orange and leeks. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Kathy Gunst's asparagus and roast salmon with blood orange and leeks. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Kathy's Note: Long recipe title, I know. But you can put this together with very little effort. The asparagus, the leeks, and the salad dressing can all be cooked ahead of time and the salmon roasted ten minutes before serving. You can omit the leeks if it feels like too many steps; the salad is perfectly delicious without them.

Serve with warm crusty bread.

Serves 2.

The Salad:
1 pound asparagus, ends trimmed
1 large leek
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 pound fresh salmon, wild if possible
1/4 cup blood orange or orange juice

The Blood Dressing Vinaigrette:
1 blood orange or orange
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons white or red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil

Cook the asparagus: fill a large skillet with water and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the asparagus and cook for about 5 to 8 minutes, depending on the thickness, or until they are almost tender. Drain, rinse under cold running water and drain again. Place the asparagus in the middle of a large plate and set aside.

Cook the leeks: cut the dark green section of the leek off and discard. Cut the white and pale green section of the leeks down the middle lengthwise and then wash under cold running water. Dry thoroughly. Thinly slice the clean leek.

In a medium skillet heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over moderately- high heat. Cook the leeks for about 8 to 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until brown and crispy. Remove from the skillet and drain on paper towel; set aside.

Make the vinaigrette: remove the peel from the orange. Working over a small bowl to catch the juices, cut the orange into segments, removing the white pith and chop the segments into small pieces. Place in a small bowl and add the salt, pepper, vinegar, and oil. Set aside. (You can make the asparagus, leeks and vinaigrette several hours ahead of time; cover and refrigerate.)

Cook the salmon: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In an ovenproof medium skillet heat the remaining tablespoon of oil over high heat. Cook the salmon flesh side down for 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper. Gently flip the salmon over and cook skin side down for 30 seconds. Remove from the heat and pour the blood orange juice on top. Roast on the middle shelf for 6 to 11 minutes, depending on the thickness of the filet. The salmon is cooked when a fork gently placed in the middle comes out warm and the flesh of the fish doesn’t feel raw.

Remove the asparagus, leeks and salad dressing to bring to room temperature.

Place the hot salmon on top of the asparagus. Spoon a few tablespoons of the vinaigrette on top, making sure to add some orange pieces and top with the leeks. Serve the remaining vinaigrette on the side.

Roasted Beet Salad With Feta Cheese, Roasted Chickpeas, And Arugula With Chive-Ginger Dressing

Kathy Gunst's roasted beet salad with feta cheese, roasted chickpeas and arugula with chive-ginger dressing. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Kathy Gunst's roasted beet salad with feta cheese, roasted chickpeas and arugula with chive-ginger dressing. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Beets are a great ingredient to segue from winter to spring. Look for golden beets (or a combination of red and golden beets) for this salad to create the dramatic visual contrast of red and golden yellow against the white feta, golden brown chickpeas, and bright green arugula and chives. Peeling cooked beets can be messy; you may want to wear rubber gloves so you don’t stain your fingers, or work on a sheet of plastic wrap to avoid staining your counters or work surface. Serve with warm, crusty bread.

Serves 4.

For the beets:
9 small to medium yellow and/or red beets, preferably no bigger than 2 inches across

For the ginger vinaigrette:
1 tablespoons finely chopped or grated fresh ginger
1/8 teaspoon salt
Generous grinding of black pepper
3 tablespoons minced fresh chives, or very finely chopped scallions
2 tablespoons balsamic or red wine vinegar
4 1/2 tablespoons olive oil

For the salad:
2 packed cups baby arugula, or spring greens
1 cup crumbled feta cheese or goat cheese
1 cup roasted chickpeas (see recipe below)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Using 3 large pieces of aluminum foil, create 3 “packages,” wrapping three beets in each foil packet. Roast on the middle rack for 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until the beets feel tender in the center when pierced with a small, sharp knife. (Some of the beets may be done after 45 minutes of roasting, while others may take closer to 2 hours, depending on their thickness and freshness. Keep checking and removing the beets as they are done.) Remove from the oven and let cool a few minutes. Unwrap and, using your fingers or a small, sharp knife, peel off the skin.

(The beets and can be roasted 24 hours ahead of time; cover and refrigerate.)

To make the dressing, mix the ginger, salt, pepper, half the chives (or scallions), vinegar, and oil in a small bowl.

Place the greens on a serving plate or salad bowl. Thinly slice the beets and arrange on top of the greens. Pour the vinaigrette on top. Sprinkle the salad with the remaining chives (or scallions), the crumbled cheese, and the roasted chickpeas. Serve at room temperature.

Roasted Chickpeas

Kathy's Note: Canned chickpeas are totally transformed when they are roasted. They become crunchy and appealing and make an excellent topping for salads and soups. You might want to double the recipe to have some extra on hand for snacking.

Makes about 1 cup.

1 cup canned chickpeas, drained, rinsed and drained again
1 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil.

Make sure the chickpeas are totally dry; you may need to drain and blot them on paper towels. Toss the chickpeas with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Spread the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet in a single layer and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until they crisp up, begin to pop, and turn golden brown. Let cool before serving. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 day.

Vietnamese-Style Rice Noodle Salad with Grilled Skirt Steak, Mint, Carrots and Cucumber

Kathy Gunst's Vietnamese-style rice noodle salad with grilled skirt steak, mint, carrots and cucumber. (Kathy Gunst)
Kathy Gunst's Vietnamese-style rice noodle salad with grilled skirt steak, mint, carrots and cucumber. (Kathy Gunst)

Kathy's Note: This is my take on Bun Bo Xao, the classic Vietnamese rice noodle salad. The noodles in this dish cook in mere minutes and if you chop all the veggies in the morning and let the steak marinate overnight (or for just a few hours) this flavorful main-course salad can be put together with very little work. It’s both light and satisfying.

The rice noodle salad assembles quickly once all of the ingredients are prepared. (Kathy Gunst)
The rice noodle salad assembles quickly once all of the ingredients are prepared. (Kathy Gunst)

Serves 4.

The Steak:
1 pound skirt steak or hangar steak
About 1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari
1 tablespoons finely minced fresh ginger
1 scallion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar

The Dressing:
1 scallion, very thinly sliced, white and green section
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
3 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari, or 1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce and 1 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, from 1 large lime
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
Dash hot pepper sauce, or chopped seeded fresh or dried chile
Grinding black pepper

The Salad:
One 12- ounce package dry vermicelli rice noodles
4 large lettuce leaves, romaine or a crunchy variety
1 1/2 cups grated carrot
1 1/2 cups grated cucumber, peeled
2 radishes, thinly sliced and 1/2 cup grated radish
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1/2 cup salted peanuts, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup bean sprouts
1 lime cut into wedges

Marinate the steak: place meat in a non-reactive shallow roasting pan or bowl. Add half the oil, soy sauce, ginger, scallion and vinegar; cover and let sit for 2 hours or ideally refrigerate for up to 12 hours.

Make the dressing: in a small bowl or glass bottle mix all the ingredients. Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

Cook the noodles: Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to boil over high heat. Add rice noodles, stir and turn off heat. Let noodles “cook” for about 5 minutes until soft, stirring to make sure they don’t clump up. Drain and rinse with cold water. Leave in colander at room temperature.

Assemble the salad: Divide the noodles into 4 bowls. Arrange the lettuce leaves to one side. Divide the carrots, cucumber, sliced and grated radishes, and the mint and cilantro leaves on top of the noodles. Pour half the dressing on top of the noodles and vegetables.

Cook the steak: light a grill (gas or charcoal) over high heat. Alternately, heat a wok or large cast iron (or heavy) skillet over high heat with the remaining oil. Cook the steak about 4 to 5 minutes per side until a rich caramelized brown and just cooked through—medium-rare. Let the meat sit for 4 to 5 minutes and then very thinly slice. Divide the hot meat on top of the noodles. Sprinkle with the bean sprouts, peanuts and lime wedges. Serve remaining dressing on the side

Serve at room temperature.


This segment aired on March 21, 2016.


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