It isn’t seasonal for me. I am not one who starts to crave fresh, crunchy veggies when the weather starts to warm up… perhaps because I live in a Mediterranean climate where the temps are fairly moderate all year long. I love fresh, raw, crunchy veggies all year round. And in mass quantities.
My salads do vary a great deal from day to day, and week to week. I tend to get into a groove with a particular taste or ingredient and enjoy it to the fullest before moving on to the next. For example, a few weeks ago, most of my salads had some capers and green olives on them with some light feta that I found at Trader Joe’s last time we crossed the border.
And sometimes my concoctions get quite creative when I have bits and pieces in the fridge that need to be used up. Do you do that too?
My salads usually start out with some mixture of greens: romaine, spinach, chard… and sometimes I have mixed greens that come pre-washed in cello bags. I also like a bit of cabbage, and the pre-packed slaws and broccoli slaws are a favorite. I love those little English cucumbers, green onions, white mushrooms, and grape tomatoes.
Then I add some protein: canned tuna, chicken, wild salmon, sardines, or leftover chicken, pork, roast beef, or even slivers of lean deli ham. Hard boiled eggs are a favorite, and I might opt for cheese occasionally too. Feta is usually my favorite.
I like to change the flavor and the crunch factor with little extras such as capers, olives, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds,hemp seeds, or even slices of fruit such as pears, strawberries and blueberries… I have even been known to toss in chunks of cooked leftover squash or a few green peas occasionally.
My salads are often very simple… and other times quite elaborate. The sky is the limit!
And I have thrown all the 'rules' about what goes with what out the window. For instance, I thought I would never put tomatoes and fruit in the same salad, but when in Colorado this past Summer, I ordered a Chicken and Raspberry Salad from a golf course lunch menu, and it came with cherry tomatoes. And I loved it. Who knew?
I have found a few commercially prepared dressings that I like…. Trader Joe’s has a couple and so does Kraft… I have even been known to choose Wishbone fat free Blue Cheese... (sssshhh!) but for the most part, I like to make my own dressing. And the ingredients I choose will depend on the items in the salad. If I use an oil, it will be a light extra virgin olive oil or perhaps a light grape seed oil that has little to no flavor of its own. I also have a little stash of flavored oils that my friend Kate gave to me a while ago.
And I love to use flavored vinegars. Open my pantry door and you will find a good variety: apple cider, red wine, light and dark balsamics, rice, and even white…. and lately a couple of new stars on the shelf that I am very excited to tell you about.
They are Cucumber Blush Vinegar and Morning Meadow Honey Vinegar, 2 of the many flavors that are handcrafted by Mr. Vinegar… a home-based operation in Hamilton Ontario. I was thrilled when Joyce (would she be Mrs. Vinegar?) offered to send me some… and I have been enjoying them immensely ever since.
These bottles are 155ml in volume… that is about 5 to 6 ounces for my American friends.
I chose to try the Cucumber Blush Vinegar first. It is their best seller. Mr. Vinegar describes it thus:
“100% whole cucumbers are pureed and then fermented fully with Merlot. A precise balance offering fresh spring like flavours with Merlot at the front and crisp late after notes of cucumber on the finish. Oak aged.”
Looks like wine!
I chose to use it on a simple salad of tomatoes, cucumbers, and white onion slices over a bit of cottage cheese… no oil… just spooned a bit of the vinegar over the top. I thought that would be a true test of of the taste.
Look at the beautiful color.
A bit of pepper and voila! Lovely.
I have also used it several times mixed with a bit of EVOO. I particularly like it on salads with feta cheese.
And I have also added a spoonful to a chilled glass of Mott’s Garden Cocktail… makes a lovely non-alcoholic cocktail!
I chose to try the Morning Meadow Honey Vinegar over a salad that has fruit in it. From the Mr. Vinegar web site:
“100% pure Ontario Honey is first fermented into a quality Meade. It is then fermented to very high quality honey vinegar and aged in Apple Wood. Honey flavours at the front and lasting wild flower after notes.”
I made a lovely lunch salad with a few well-chosen ingredients that I thought would go nicely with the slight sweetness of the vinegar… spinach leaves, white onion, ripe pear, light feta, and a few pecans. Drizzled the Morning Meadow Honey Vinegar over the top.
And I have also mixed it with EVOO and enjoyed it over other salads with berries, too. It is truly special.
The Captain is not normally a vinegar fan but he really likes both of these because they are light and tasty.. not the normal over-tart or sometimes even sour taste that we tend to associate with commercially-made vinegars.
All of the vinegars in the line-up take at least a year to make. And Mr. Vinegar has won 17 international awards… 2 of them being double gold. It’s not hard to see and taste why. They do not contain sulphites, colouring, or artificial ingredients.
So, where can you find Mr. Vinegar, to learn more about the company, see the growing line of products (yes, there is a mustard now, too) and get your hands on some for yourself?
Check the web site… Mr. Vinegar … you can order directly from there.
And do look for them at The One of a Kind Christmas Show in Toronto from November 27th through December 7th, 2014. You can also find Mr. Vinegar at FEAST in Toronto, on Queen Street West.
Here is Mr. Vinegar himself… Roger Lambert. Picture from
The Christmas One of a Kind Show web site.
Are you a fan of flavored vinegars? Have you a favorite?