Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Tree of Life Salad

An American friend recently suggested we have a two woman International Cook-Off - she sent me some salad recipes from The New American Cooking by Joan Nathan and asked me to pick one for us both to make. I chose Tree of Life Salad, a recipe inspired by a spicy dressing made at Tree of Life wellness centre in Arizona, which uses red pepper, tahini, garlic and oranges.  

I ended up changing things quite a lot - the original recipe had raisins, which I didn't fancy, and as the dressing sounded a lot like harissa I decided to use that instead, adding ginger to keep it close to the Tree of Life version. I stupidly forgot to buy oranges, so I used white wine vinegar instead and it works well, but I'll have to try the orangey version someday! I also changed the ingredients of the salad itself to include things we had: I used rocket from the garden in place of red cabbage, a yellow instead of green pepper (because green peppers are just gross unripe other peppers) and I replaced the suggested endive with fennel - completely different flavours, but I had fennel and fennel be good. In the end I was enjoying the harissa too much to add tahini, so I omitted that too. Basically this is a completely different recipe, but I think it still counts!

(sort of) Tree Of Life Salad - UK edition

Serves 2 as a side
For the harissa dressing
1 whole red pepper
2-3 long red chillies, medium heat, stalks and seeds discarded
1 large clove garlic, peeled

1 tsp caster sugar
1 heaped tsp smoked paprika
1 thumb-size piece root ginger, peeled and very finely grated
1 tbs olive oil
1tbs white wine vinegar 

If you've got a gas hob, set the smallest burner on a medium heat and sit the whole pepper directly into the flames. Turn the pepper as the skin blisters and pops, keeping it in the flames until the skin is blackened and the flesh is softened all over (alternatively, turn the oven up high, put the pepper directly on the top shelf and bake for 10-15 minutes, turning half way through, until the skin is charred and the flesh is soft). Leave to cool then remove the stalk and seeds and cut into quarters.

Put the pepper, chillies, garlic, sugar and smoked paprika into a bowl  or food processor, with a small amount of olive oil, and blitz up til smooth. This is the harissa.

Put 3tsp harissa in a small bowl with the grated ginger, white wine vinegar and olive oil and beat together well with a fork. Set aside.

For the salad
Half a red pepper
Half a yellow pepper
1 bulb fennel
Handful rocket leaves
1 small head little gem or similar lettuce
8 cherry tomatoes

Put the rocket and lettuce leaves in a salad bowl. Slice the pepper halves into long, thin strips and place in a salad bowl. Cut the fennel in half vertically, cut off the solid bottom end and remove the outer layer and the top stalks. Slice thinly and add to the bowl. Halve the cherry tomatoes and add them too.

Add a tablespoon of the dressing to the salad and stir it up to ensure everything is well coated. Add a little at a time until it's dressed to your liking, but don't over do it, you want to still be able to taste the veg.

I served my Tree of Life salad with a polenta pizza. More on that another time.