Between the husband and I, salads have become a much more frequent main dish of the dinner (and/or lunch) time. I have to give the boy some props for being open to trying new flavors and realizing the salad is so much more than just some lettuce tomato and cucumber tossed in lemon and olive oil. There aint nothin’ wrong with that, but… it’s boring. Thankfully he married a culinarily curious food lover who likes to try and learn new techniques, resulting in such beauties as the orange vinaigrette and soy ginger and chili lime dressings. We have discovered that he prefers the tangy and spicy versions more than the fruity but as I am the predominant cook I get to decide. And lately what I wanted was something that spoke of summer, of sun, of the fruits of the season.
As it happens, I have seen plums everywhere and naturally surmised the most obvious and pleasant route would be to endeavor a taste of the plum vinaigrette. I’d never tried anything like this, and while it wasn’t heard, it certainly took more labor than my dressings usually require, but I daresay for the eyes alone it was worth it. The colors I was left with took my breath away. I’m only disheartened I had to leave this beautiful concoction in Maryland when I moved this week. Did that come as a surprise? Yes I am currently in CA now, temporarily with la familia before I settle down in San Diego. It is with a heavy heart that I must bid adieu to all the great food and great people I encountered, along with the lush majesty of trees galore, but new adventures await! One cannot sit idly by and moan about the past whilst the present offers a smorgasbord of delights.
Anyway, here I am now reminiscing about the bright, sweet, and rich homemade vinaigrette which really was worth the effort! I am ready to explore with other fruits soon, now that the basic technique has revealed itself to me with delightful clarity. I implore you to do the same, lest the fruits of summer pass you by with nary a glance from your direction. What better than an ideal summer salad to live through this horridly hot days?
- 2 red plums, halved, pitted and chopped
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1-2 tsp balsamic vinegar
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Mixed Salad greens (Romaine hearts, Arugula, baby spinach)
- Toasted Ramen noodles
- ¼ cup chia seeds
- ¼ sunflower seeds
- ½ mango, chopped
- ½ apple, chopped (I used fuji)
In a large saucepan, combine chopped plums with 2 cups of water and bring to a boil, reducing to a simmer once a rolling boil occurs. Cook down the plums for about 15-20 minutes, stirring and mashing until the plums have mostly disintegrated. Remove from heat and allow mixture to cool, then strain until all chunky bits are removed. Admire the fluorescent color of the remaining plum sauce and remind yourself that you’re fasting so even the slightest dip and taste would be ever so wrong (You’re not fasting, you say? Then tell me how it tasted!!).
Combine strained sauce with olive oil, balsamic vinegar (others would and can use red wine vinegar, but I don’t use alcoholic ingredients, even if the alcohol has molecularly transformed into another acid as is the case with vinegar, I think?), and a dash of salt and pepper to taste. I never realized how much hinged on that “to taste” business until I couldn’t actually taste it. Very frustrating indeed! As a result, I veer on the side of caution and less salt, which can always be added later.
Anyhoo, voila! Plum vinaigrette at your beck and call! You can store this for a week I believe, and it can be used for all sorts of salads or possibly as a chicken or steak marinade (with some added heat naturally). As for salads, here’s an option for you.
Toss together Arugula, baby spinach and chopped hearts of romaine, rinsing and drying as needed. In a small frying pan, lightly toast some ramen noodles (yes those very ones used for top ramen or the like). Just break the noodles up into bits and toss them over medium heat until the brown up and become fragrant and easily crunchy. Top the salad with the noodles, seeds, mango and apple. Lastly, drizzle some of the plum vinaigrette and call it a night!