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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Yummy-licious Summer Salad

 Summer salad-Crispy Spinach salad with tomato, cucumber, Bandel cheese n carrot

The way this salad hits the taste buds is unreal. Gushes of saliva rush to mix with the crispy egg-coated spinach, the honey-mustard dressing, the onions, the carrots and the cheese as you munch on-oh! How can I tell you how unreal is that? N I gulped n gulped until the bowl stared looking empty after 5 minutes and I knew I was getting full, but I couldn't stop. I mean people are not supposed to get full by eating salad, right? Especially be eating so much of salad but then I was taken-literally taken n owned by this amazing salad. Oh reader if you have read so far I am only thinking when you will eat this salad and write me about it! It is gonna be so much fun listening to you. In fact when I was eating it I thought I would probably skip the main menu if this salad is being served just before that. Yes it is just that good.

                                                                            Its monsoon here, not yet the end of summer however and in the vegetables market now-a days I get to see fresh bunches of small spinach. Well I am not a spinach fan anyways but the few ways that I like to eat them is when I transform them into crispy spinach in my kitchen. Mostly how I do is I coat the spinach with a light batter of eggs n corn flour and I deep fry them, it takes around a half a minute for each batch to go crispy and its yummm… it takes a bit of patience however.

                                                                        When I started thinking about creating this recipe I first thought the crispy spinach and then I add tomatoes, carrot ribbons, cucumber, slightly golden cashew nuts for their crunch and flavor, the red onion, the lime, honey-mustard dressing and a very special cheese. It is called Bandel Cheese and it is a local cheese here and it mostly comes from the place called Bandel-hence the name. the Bandel cheese is a smoked cheese, the texture is soft n crumbly, it is an un-ripened cheese, they are really tiny, they are like small patties and they will be mostly shorter than the length of you little finger. The first thing you will notice when you bite into the cheese is the smoky flavor. In fact there are 2 kinds of this cheese-plain which are white in color and smoked, brown in color. It is quite aromatic when it is fresh and softly crumbly.

                              Now with this cheese I do something special, the cheese is quite salty, to give it another layer of flavor I make a little caramel and I brown the cheese slices in the caramel and it happens almost in seconds, after that I splash a bit of balsamic vinegar over them and sometimes a pinch of red chili powder if I feel like it n it becomes amazing. In this salad I use that cheese like this. Now I will tell you about the recipe…do make this salad when you get your hands on some fresh spinach and hopefully you will love me at the end of eating that. If you do not have Bandel cheese just go for a soft crumbly cheese like feta, you can even go for ricotta but then let your imagination run free, let it make you happy. Bon Appetit.

          For The Recipe: you will need
200 gm of fresh spinach leaves (prefer small if available)
2 Bandel cheese
1 medium egg
3-4 tbsp of corn flour
1 small cucumber sliced in thin round circles
1 medium red onion halved n sliced
1 medium red tomato halved n sliced
1 small carrot, with a potato peeler, make ribbons by peeling it along the length
1 lime
6-7 cashew nuts, slightly golden in oil and broken in pieces
3-4 tbsp of Honey-mustard dressing (use ready-made or make your own)
Pinch of pink rock salt
Freshly crushed black pepper
1tbsp of vegetable oil, reserved from the oil in which the spinach is fried
1 ½ -2 cups of vegetable oil


1. let’s start with the cheese, then cut the vegetables, then we will fry the spinach and then we will assemble the salad. So slice each bandel cheese into 3-4 discs, then in a frying pan place 1 tsp of sugar, sprinkle some drops of water on them for the heat to evenly distribute, on a medium flame let them go to dark caramel stage, then place each disc on that caramel, then turn them over after 10 seconds, you will see they have browned and become softer, then splash 1 tbsp of balsamic vinegar on them, as it dries take them off the pan.

2. Peel the carrot and then keep peeling to get the carrot ribbons. Prepare the other vegetable as said. Sprinkle a little lime juice over the sliced onions.

3. Wash the spinach, pat it dry with a cloth, then in a vessel break the egg, whisk lightly to combine, in another bowl add the corn flour with 1 tsp of water, mix it then add it to the egg mixture, add a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper in the batter. The batter should be runny n light; you can add more corn flour and a bit water to get to that consistency while increasing the volume. Now heat the oil in a wok, let the oil heat up on a medium flame for 4-5 minutes, don’t make the oil go smoky, we need it below that temperature. So now in the batter dip some of the spinach leaves and first one leaf in the hot oil carefully to test how hot it is. It should take about 10-15 seconds on each side for the batter to crisp up and attain a golden color. Once it is attained fry the spinach leaves like this in small batches, in every batch place about 6 -9 leaves depending on the size of the wok. When the spinach is done sprinkle little salt over them, now  let off the heat  and place the cashew nuts in the oil, let them attain a slight golden hint then take them off.

4. Now with the honey-mustard dressing add the lime juice and mix it, add 1 tbsp of the oil in which the spinach is fried and mix well with the honey-mustard dressing. Now place everything in a big bowl excepting the spinach and add the honey-mustard dressing, pinches of salt and the pink rock salt, freshly ground black pepper and mix until everything is coated. Then lastly add the crispy spinach. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
 And guess what you are done!


Now dig in and let the flavors explode!

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