Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Thanks Mate!

A change in weather brings a change in ingredients. Summer vegetables may be disappearing from the farmer's markets but it is still possible to make a delicious salad from what is available. My trip to Union Square Green Market this weekend became a hunt for salad ingredients. I wanted something that would really express the season. Leafy greens love cool weather and my search was rewarded by a selection of gorgeous arugula varieties. The oak shaped leaves of a particular bunch won my heart and got dumped into my shopping bag. They were followed quickly by a really picturesque bundle of red and white radishes the size of my pinkie.

To round out the FALLness of this salad I decided to add some roasted sweet potatoes. Not long ago I cooked a buffet lunch for a wedding shower. The bride-to-be was marrying her Australian sweetheart and she wanted the menu to reflect his heritage. She asked me if I could prepare a spinach salad with roasted pumpkin, a recipe that for her typified Australian cooking. It sounded delicious to me and in fact the finished dish was very popular with the party guests. More recently, my friend Ruth who grew up in Australia, brought a big green salad studded with sweet potato cubes to a pot luck book group meeting we were attending. So there seems to be something to this Australian inclination.

Lemon vinaigrette with lots of garlic and ground black pepper seemed like a good way to dress this robust salad. I loved the contrast of textures and colors to the final dish. I added some peppitas (pumpkin seeds) as a crunchy garnish. The inclusion of the sweet potatoes turned this simple salad into a filling and satisfying meal. Any Australian wines come to mind Amanda?

Arugula Salad with Roasted Sweet Potatoes 

1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1" cubes
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 Tbs. soy sauce
1 bunch arugula, washed (you could substitute spinach leaves)
1/2 cup sliced radishes
1/4 cup toasted peppitas

Lemon Vinaigrette
Juice of 1 lemon
1 clove garlic finely minced
1/2 teas. dry mustard
1  1/2 teas. salt
1 Tbs. freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup good quality extra- virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 425 F
Toss sweet potatoes with olive oil and soy sauce and lay on a baking sheet in a single layer. Roast in oven for about 20 minutes until the potatoes are tender. Set potatoes aside to cool to room temperature. Assemble the rest of the salad ingredients in a large bowl and add the cooled sweet potatoes.

Combine the lemon juice, garlic, mustard, s & p and whisk together to combine. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil, whisking constantly to emulsify.

Pour vinaigrette over salad and toss well to coat all the arugula leaves.

Serves 2

Wow - this salad looks beautiful! I would definitely look to drink something with citrus notes and good acidity. These characteristics will work wonderfully with the lemon vinaigrette. A New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc would do the trick. But, in keeping with the Australian theme, I might look to a Verdelho to complement this gorgeous salad. The earliest plantings of Verdelho can be traced back to Portugal in the 15th century. The varietal then first appears in Australia around 1820.

The grapes were typically used to make medium-sweet wines. However, modern winemaking techniques eventually helped unleash some other surprising characteristics of Verdelho. This varietal can also produce crisp, aromatic, fresh wines with  herbaceous, citrus notes.

Mollydooker is a terrific producer in Australia. Their wines are always highly rated by the most influential wine critics. (The price tags of these wines typically reflect this point, as they are not cheap). Their wines are given quirky names, like The Boxer Shiraz, Two Left Feet, The Maitre d Cabernet, The Scooter Merlot, Blue-Eyed Boy Shiraz...you get the picture. The Verdelho is called "The Violinist". It retails for about $25. This white has rich, round fruit with mouth-watering citrus and pineapple flavors. It's creamy and ripe, with floral aromas too.

Deb - I think this salad will pair perfectly with this wine. Again, if you can't find Mollydooker's Verdelho, ask your local wine retailer to recommend one from a different producer!

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