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Monday, June 08, 2009

Mache, Raspberry and Viola salad


Every year we wait for the raspberry to ripen and fill the garden with heavenly ambrosia. Sometimes I think we bought the house because of the raspberry bush. It's been so generous to us for the past 3 years - rewarding us with more fruits than we can eat, freeze and jam. The children around the neighbourhood like to come over to pick some too.
This year we successfully grow some Mache or lamb's lettuce or Veldsla in Dutch. It's probably my favourite salad leaves. I love the nutty and slightly bitter taste of the leaves. There is nothing like picking your own and dressing it immediately in something as simple as just olive oil and a squeeze of lemon. But combining it with the raspberries from the same garden? Sublime. Throw in some violas from the garden too, some toasted pecan and a little feta crumbled on top (for snow effect, according to my daughter). I mixed a little raspberry vinaigrette to go with it.
Adding fruit and flowers to a savoury salad is very typical Malaysian. Some of our salads actually feature fruits as the main ingredients. Rojak buah (fruit salad) combines different fruits like different types of mangoes, water chestnut and pineapple in a spicy and nutty sauce. The other equally ubiquitous salad using fruit as its main ingredient will be kerabu mangga. And there are other salads using young jackfuit, torch ginger flower (bunga kantan), banana flower (jantung pisang). Most of the ingredients to make these salads are found in your own backyard although these days you'd sooner get the ingredients from a market or the supermarket. Following this old adage, I thought it makes a lot of sense to use whatever I have in my own backyard and pantry to prepare this salad. The recipe provided is just as a guideline. I actually feel a little strange putting the recipe because I think mixing a salad and vinaigrette is so simple. I basically just mix whatever I happen to have at hand... and you should too ;-)

Dinner of grilled salmon and a foccassia on the side was ready in under half an hour... and the kids had fun helping to pick the fruits, salad leaves and flowers!
Raspberry, Mache and Viola Salad
Ingredients:
1 cup and a bit more of raspberry
2 cup Mache
a handful of pecan - toasted
10 violas
goat cheese or feta to crumble on top
for the vinaigrette
Toasted hazelnut oil
Raspberry vinegar
1 shallot chopped finely
1 garlic crushed and chopped finely
flat leaf parsley
honey
salt and pepper to taste

Method:
1. Combine all the ingredients for the vinaigrette and whisk until everything is mixed. Keep tasting and adjusting the balance until you are happy with it. Chill in the fridge until ready to use.
2. Wash the mache thoroughly. Add The raspberry and toasted pecan and toss together.
3. Add the viola, crumble the cheese on top and add the vinaigrette just before eating.
4. Mix everything together and enjoy!
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