roasted red pepper & goat cheese salad
May 24, 2013 § 1 Comment
Ever since I decided that meat just wasn’t for me, everyone has been telling me to get the salad. Out to lunch with girlfriends, “Oh, just get the salad”. Over for dinner at a friends house, “Oh, here are two salads I made for you, and there’s some asparagus too.” I love vegetables, I really do, but I don’t love them when they are the only things on my plate. And ever since everyone started telling me to just get the salad, I have rebelled against it.
I’ll order the grilled cheese instead and hate it. I’ll get a roasted veggie wrap and just pick at it. It wasn’t until recently that I gave in and said, “Fine, I’ll get the salad”. And you know what, it was just perfect. I really do love salads when they have crisp greens, fresh flavors, and are hearty enough that I don’t need another meal an hour later. I have learned my lesson though too. Don’t get the salad at the tiny diner filled with iceberg lettuce, one tomato and wilted cucumber slices. Don’t order the salad at a bar, smothered in creamy Caesar dressing and croutons you can barely crunch into. These are not the salads I speak of. And I have learned that at these places I should stick with my guns and not order the salad! But I have also released some tensions towards people telling me I must get the salad. In a cute café, yes I do want the salad. At a nice dinner, as a starter, yes the salad would be just fine. At times, yes, I still become my stubborn self and say no, I can eat more than a salad and get the sandwich I don’t really want. And I regret it as soon as the food arrives.
One particular salad I’ve fallen in love with, is originally from a Vermont café. When I was in my teens and young 20s, my college years, my mom would swoop me downtown every chance she could get. You would find us at one of two places, Mirabelles or New Moon. It was our girl talk time, away from other family members, just the two of us, catching up the way only a mother and daughter can. There were iced coffees with too much sugar, plenty of macaroons dipped in chocolate, and a salad we just couldn’t get enough of.
Whenever we found our way to New Moon we would get the house salad loaded with mixed greens, roasted red peppers, goat cheese and toasted pine nuts. Unfortunately, over the years as I moved away from Vermont and my mom and I find ourselves with less and less time to sit in cafes together, our beloved salad changed as well. It’s no longer rich with goat cheese and simple flavors; it has all this other stuff in it now. And neither of us seem to want to order the new house salad on the menu.
I still have the fond memories of sipping our coffees, eating this salad and gossiping away, but now the memory has translated to home. Since we can’t get it out, I make it and my mom make it at home all the time, usually when we are in each others company. I’m happy to say we will most likely be making it together this Memorial Day weekend.
Recipe inspired by New Moon
1 red pepper, roasted, peeled and sliced
pine nuts, toasted
3 tablespoons balsamic
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
pinch of salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place the whole red pepper on a baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes on the top shelf of the oven. Flip the pepper over and roast for another 20 minutes. Pepper is done when all sides are slightly charred. Remove from the oven and place pepper in a plastic bag, seal tightly. Allow to cool in the fridge. Once cooled, peel off all the skin and remove seeds. Slice thinly.
Whisk all dressing ingredients together. In a large bowl toss mixed greens, roasted red pepper and dressing. Sprinkle salad with pine nuts and use a fork to scrape small chunks of goat cheese on top. Serve immediately.