Salad Days

2 Jul

Yet more hot weather salads. These elegant cheese and herb tarts are perfect toppers for summer greens.

RICOTTA TARTLETS AND SALAD WITH TARRAGON VINAIGRETTE
Recipe from Canadian Living Test Kitchen
1/2 cup (125 mL) finely grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup (250 mL) ricotta cheese
1 egg white
1 tbsp (15 mL) chopped fresh thyme
1 tbsp (15 mL) all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp (1 mL) each pepper and baking powder
1/4 tsp crumbled dried lavender
Salad:
1 tbsp (15 mL) tarragon vinegar or white wine vinegar
1 tsp (5 mL) Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp (1 mL) crumbled dried savory
Pinch each salt and pepper
1/4 cup (50 mL) extra-virgin olive oil
8 cups (2 L) mixed baby salad greens
1/4 cup (50 mL) finely chopped fresh chives or green onions

Grease 12 mini muffin cups; sprinkle sides and bases with 2 tbsp (25 mL) of the Parmesan cheese to coat evenly. Set aside.

In bowl, beat together ricotta, egg white, remaining Parmesan cheese, thyme, flour, pepper and baking powder until smooth. Press evenly into prepared muffin cups. Bake in centre of 350°F (180°C) oven until puffed and tester inserted in centre comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Let cool in pan on rack for 5 minutes.

Salad: In large bowl, whisk together vinegar, mustard, savory, salt and pepper; gradually whisk in oil. Add salad greens and chives; toss to coat. Divide among plates; top each with 2 tartlets. For a more assertive flavour, replace Parmesan with shredded Canadian Asiago or Canadian Swiss cheese.

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ZUCCHINI PESTO TARTS WITH SALAD
Recipe from New York Times. Adapted from Scott Carsberg
Time: 2 1/2 hours plus two hours’ chilling

1 1/8 cups flour, more for rolling the dough

Salt and pepper

1 teaspoon fresh rosemary leaves

1 stick butter

1 egg

4 medium zucchini, about 1 pound

Extra virgin olive oil as needed

4 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves, washed and well dried

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

4 to 6 cups assorted greens like red leaf lettuce, romaine, chard and radicchio, thinly shredded

Lemon juice as needed.

1. Combine flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt and rosemary in a food processor; pulse once or twice. Add butter, and process until butter and flour are blended and mixture looks like cornmeal, about 10 seconds. Place mixture in a bowl and sprinkle 3 tablespoons of water over it, then toss with a fork; add a little more water if necessary, until you can pack dough into a ball. Wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.

2. Roll dough out on a floured surface until thin. Cut to fit 4 small tart pans or 1 medium one. (There will be leftover dough; wrap and freeze or refrigerate for another use.) Press dough into tart pans, and prick surface all over with a fork. Refrigerate again for an hour.

3. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Beat egg with a tablespoon of water, and brush tart shells; bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until golden and slightly browned. Set aside for up to a few hours, or proceed immediately.

4. Cut zucchini in quarters lengthwise. Dice each strip into 1/2-inch pieces. Put 3 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet over medium heat; a minute later, add zucchini and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until they just start to soften, 5 to 10 minutes. Add parsley, and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until zucchini is soft but still green. Remove from heat and cool. Combine zucchini-parsley mixture in a blender with Parmesan and blend until smooth.

5. Spread zucchini pesto over baked tart shells. Toss greens with olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste. Pile greens into tart shells and serve.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings.

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