Salad - Grilled Blueberries, Endive, Mushrooms, Gouda
Grilled peppers, too -- and . . .
But start with the blueberries, and not just any old blueberries, but grilled blueberries.
They of course are the unusual ingredient here, but in this case unusual is good -- more than good, great. They provide a sharp contrast to the other tastes in this composition (just about any salad of interest is a composition of various ingredients, in differing proportions). Endive and cheese together constitute one kind of contrast, but a familiar one -- now, add blueberries and we are playing in a different ballgame
A very enjoyable one, too, because as we are chewing away, we can decide to spear one of these sweet blue nuggets and add it to the mix in our mouth. Or spear five or six.
Start by grilling the blueberries. All it takes is a grilling basket, a preheated grill, and a minute or two. A minute, then shake them up. Maybe a minute more -- max. The color deepens beautifully.
Endive - Mushrooms
Both work well on the grill, surprisingly well.
Split the endives lengthwise, dribble some EVOO on them, and give them two minutes on each side -- max, provided the grill has been preheated. (We alway preheat our grill, do we not?) The endive halves take on a very nice color. The bitterness that makes endive so attractive is reduced a bit, but in a way that enhances the flavor we experience.
The mushrooms can be grilled in the same grilling basket used for the blueberries. Any type of mushroom will do, though grilling a mix of several different types can be recommended. This salad, after all, is about a diversity of ingredients, so the more types of mushrooms the better.
The mushrooms could be placed directly on the grill, of course, but a grilling basket is a very useful tool here. Just shake the basket up now and then to assure that the mushrooms experience the heat on all sides before they are ready and are dumped out of the basket.
Don't forget the peppers.
Here we have zucchini, also. We grilled the peppers and the zucchini together at the same time. A classic combination.
Go ahead and add some zucchini to the salad here, also, but really we are only specifying the peppers at this point. After all, we have three types of peppers here -- red, orange, and yellow. That's wonderful diversity, even without the zucchini. The zucchini can be used for many other culinary purposes.
Off the grill and in the bowl
Here's where the composition, the combining, takes place. Here we can exercise our art -- choose the proportions, arrange the pieces appealingly, make the salad irresistible.
Here also is where we add the Gouda. And not just any Gouda. This is called 1000 Day Old Gouda. Wow! Aged for almost three years. Available at Trader Joe's, among other places. The taste deepens and becomes stronger. The cheese hardens. A thin slice is worth more -- flavorwise. Age it a couple of more years and it really starts to taste rather like Parmesan. But no matter how long it is aged it retains a distinctive taste of its own.
The Gouda adds a terrific amount to this salad. It provides perhaps the sharpest contrast with the grilled blueberries, and that makes the composition particularly interesting to our palate.
Finally the peppers. Just their colors add so much. Little highlights like this increase the visual appeal which is such an important part of the culinary arts.
But it is not only visual, of course. The peppers add a distinctive taste to this already complex and interesting little salad.
Just dribble some EVOO over this. Maybe a squeeze or two of lime juice (recommended). Coarse ground salt and pepper, of course.
For EVOO, click here.
Plus a possible addition.
In addition to the dribble of EVOO and the lime squeeze, a dab of a special sauce adds something interesting.
This is a sauce made of mayo, lime juice, capers, and a tiny dab of Dijon mustard. Spoon a dab of it somewhere on the salad and the person eating this wonderful creation can dip pieces in the sauce as she or he pleases. Gustatory delight.
Belgian endive is a type of chicory, quite distinct from other types in fact. (When people in the US think of chicory, they think of what was added to coffee in New Orleans during the Civil War, as a way to extend the limited supply at a time when normal supply lines were of course interrupted. The taste was distinctive and has lingered, flavoring coffee there even today -- it is an essential part of any visit to New Orleans).
The whiter the leaves, the less the bitterness -- though Belgian endive's bitterness is a delicious bit of bitter. Not so long ago, Belgian endive was always sold in blue wrapping paper to prevent the leaves from maturing. Somehow today they manage to sell it in clear plastic wrap just like so many other vegetables. The part we eat is not really a root, but it is grown beneath the soil's surface with only the tips of the leaves protruding. It is dug up for market.
Belgian endive's cousin, Radicchio, is also delicious grilled. I will try to feature radicchio in the future sometime.
Part of a series
Pictures, pictures, pictures
Series within series, actually. Food & Cooking, for example, then -- within that -- series on vegetables, fruits, seafood, meat, etc. Books, too. Ideas, too. Travel, too. Key virtues:. pictures, clear step-by-step text. Delicious -- whether foods or ideas! All of the series, and all of the items in each series, can be found, organized by floor, at this link: Lee White's Department Store. Happy shopping! -- everything is for free!
Real Meal. Unlike fancy food mags, where images are hyped and food itself is secondary, all pix shown here are from a real meal, prepared and eaten by me and my friends. No throwing anything away till perfection is achieved. This is the real deal --- a Real Meal.