Saturday, June 23, 2007

On My Hearth: Apple-Tangerine Salad with Chevere and Tarragon-Citrus Vinaigrette


Beren's children will be with us today so I'm preparing a meat-free meal for us; this recipe comes from Babe's Country Cookbook, one of my favorite little vegetarian cookbooks (and from one of my all-time favorite movies!). As suggested, we are going to serve it alongside a dinner omelet and fresh bread and accompanied by the movie playing in the background. I love theme meals!

The roly-poly Mrs. H., known affectionately among the farm animals as "Her Rotundity," always has an eye to the healthy, calorie-wise dish. ("Mustn't overdo it. Must keep my figure!") This exuberant fruit salad, bursting with flavor, bursting with vitamins, satisfies her conscience and sweet tooth at the same time. The tart-sweet apple and citrus morsels make pleasing partners with the tang of the pungent fresh chevre and peppery watercress. "Seven thousand varieties of apple out there," Esme says, "and several of the very best right on Hoggett Farm." She can choose among Pink Ladies, Winesaps, Northern Spys, or the famous Hoggett Seek-No-Furthers. You can use reliable Red Delicious, McIntosh, tart green Pippins, or Granny Smiths, or any other commercial apple. But seek out your local "antique" varieties- they may not look as sleek, but will probably be superior in taste.

Apple-Tangerine Salad with Chevere and Tarragon-Citrus Vinaigrette

1 bunch watercress
3 tangerines
2 limes (1 of them for juice)
1 shallot
1 tablespoon tarragon vinegar
2 tablespoons walnut oil
1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
1 apple
1/2 cup diced or crumbled chevre or French Bucheron cheese (about 4 ounces)
1/2 cup walnut pieces

Wash and drain the watercress. Pat gently with a clean kitchen towel or paper towels to dry thoroughly. Trim away the tough stems. Reserve.

Grate the zest of 1 tangerine and 1 lime. Juice 1 of the limes. Finely chop the shallot.

Making the vinaigrette: Whisk together the vinegar, lime juice, the tangerine and lime zests, and walnut oil in a small bowl until the oil is thoroughly incorporated. Add the chopped shallot. Season with the salt and pepper, and let sit for 10 to 20 minutes for the flavors to blend.

Making the salad: Leave the peel on the apple, core it, and dice into a large bowl. Peel the remaining lime and the 3 tangerines, removign the outer white pith. Section them, remove the membranes and seeds, and add the sections to the apple along with the goat cheese and walnuts.

Pour the dressing over the fruit mixture in the bowl, and toss well.

Arrange a bed of watercress on 4 salad plates, and spoon the salad onto each bed. Serve at room temperature.

Put out a plate of buttered thin slices of toasted walnut bread or fresh French bread. This is a salad that goes especially well with an omelet.

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