Thursday, September 4, 2014

Easy Summer Recipe Part 4 - "Green Monday" Salad

Since late last year, I have been working with the social enterprise Green Monday team to develop a few vegetarian recipes for a project that they do with The Link REIT, which managed several wet markets in Hong Kong in their real estate portfolio. Beginning in January, those recipes were printed as colorful leaflets and be distributed at the markets on a weekly basis throughout the year as a way to promote green living and inventive cooking. 

I managed to share a few out of my limited vegetarian dish repertoire among the 52 recipes (to be) printed. For my contribution, I wanted to focus on western dishes that are healthy, easy to make and based mostly on seasonal ingredients available in local markets instead of chain supermarket or upscale western grocery place. And here's one of them that came out earlier this month. Season for Asian pears typically run from late summer well into autumn (around August through October) when they were available in abundance at the fruit stalls. It's crunchy and juicy with the right sweetness which made it perfect for summer salad. I particularly liked the combination of that and the smokey toasted walnuts for a contrast in texture and taste. It's ideal with an easy vinaigrette to add to the tangy-ness - and in this case, I opted for one mixing sweet balsamic gastrique and extra virgin olive oil with a generous squeeze of lemon juice.

I intended to make this simpler for everyone to follow so I only put down three major ingredients - salad greens, walnuts and pears. But as in most salad recipes, feel free to change or add to your own preferred ingredients -  arugula, spinach, crumbled hard cheese (like Parmesan or Pecorino), soft cheese, blue cheese, pine nuts, more fruits... possibilities go on and on. *whispering mode* And if you are not vegetarian, some bacon or ham or grilled chicken won't hurt to add on the texture and savory flavors too.

Recipe: Pear and Walnut Salad
(Serves 4 - Adopted from Go Green Monday with The Link's Market recipe)

Ingredients:
For the Balsamic Vinaigrette:
2 tablespoons of granulated sugar
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
lemon juice from 1/2 lemon squeezed

For the Salad:
2 Asian pears - cored and thinly sliced (can substitute with other types of pears depending on the seasonal choices)
3 cups salad vegetables (arugula, romaine lettuce, spinach or even Swiss chard and kale)
1/4 cup walnuts

Steps:
1. To make the vinaigrette, Heat sugar gently in a pan until the sugar turned into golden colored caramel. Pour vinegar into caramel, stir until caramel completely melted. Continue to cook for 5 minutes until liquid was reduced.
2. Remove from heat. Drizzle in olive oil while stirring until the oil and vinegar completely combined into an thick emulsion. Pour the vinaigrette into a small bowl or squeeze bottle and set aside.
3. To roast walnuts, pre-heat oven to 190C, put whole walnuts in a small oven dish and roast for 10 minutes. Use your hands to break toasted walnuts into coarse pieces and set aside.
4. To assemble, combine pears and vegetables well in a mixing bowl, pour/spoon/squeeze vinaigrette into the bowl, add salt and pepper to season, and combine all ingredients well with a spatula.
5. Distribute the ingredients into a small plate and toss toasted walnuts on top and on the side to serve.

By the way, the Green Monday x The Link marketing campaign runs until this December. Every week there will be a new recipe available. Go and collect them all! You can find more information through the following link: http://www.thelink.com.hk/EN/promotions/pages/promotions/the-link-and-green-monday.aspx. BTW, cover photo credit: Green Monday (and please don't ask me why they used apples instead of pears in the picture)

This is part of the Easy Summer Recipe series where I shared a few recipes for summer parties that could be prepared in less than 30 minutes. Check out the rest of the series:
Part 1: Mediterranean-style Pasta Salad
Part 2: Southern-style Cornbread
Part 3: Cold-brewed Tea

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