Fresh Manitoba Salad
I have vivid childhood memories fueled by food and food experiences. Growing up being immersed in the production of sustenance, using home grown and local ingredients has strongly infused my careers as both Chef and Sommelier.
The pale-green, large Tupperware ‘dough-bowl’ on the counter being full and bursting from the growing mass and accumulated gas. Heady scents of vinegars and pickling spices at the end of August and early parts of the fall season. The happy sweet smell which flowed from the jar as the lid was removed from home-canned B.C. Bing cherries which reminded us of summer amid the dark of a prairie winter evening.
When contemplating what recipe to make for my live/audio interview with the Manitoba Food History Project, it was hard to choose. Reflecting on my culinary history and experiences, the food memories are intense and countless.
This beautiful salad includes fruits and vegetables that were always in our garden, and although cilantro and arugula weren’t always planted, they really help to create balance and build on flavours. While the colors all become the same thanks to the power of beets, on the palate is a textural experience allowing you to identify the individual components of the salad.
1 large beet, peeled
2 tomatoes, diced small
4-5 radishes, diced small
½ bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
2 Tbs pumpkin or sunflower seeds (raw or roasted)
2 handfuls of fresh arugula or other local greens
Creamy SMAK DAB* Mustard Dressing
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 Tbs SmakDab White Wine Herb Mustard
2 tsp raspberry red wine vinegar
2 tsp cider vinegar
¼ tsp fresh ground pepper
1- Dice 3/4 of the beet. Place in a small saucepot, cover with water and bring to a boil on medium heat and cook until just becoming tender. Drain and cool immediately.
2- Thinly slice the remaining 1/4 of the beet into triangles/a small shape less than 1” in diameter. In a small saucepan on medium to med-low temperature, heat 1 cup of canola oil. Place half the sliced raw beet in the hot oil at a time and stir occasionally. The are done after a few minutes, check that they are not limp but starting to crisp up. Let drain on a paper towel lined plate. If they didn’t get fully crisped, you can bake them in the oven on a low temperature. Alternatively, you can sometimes find beet chips in the health food snack isles of grocery stores.
3- Prepare the rest of the vegetables and place into a medium sized mixing bowl. The vegetable prep can be done a day or two in advance and kept separately until you are ready to mix and serve.
4- Measure and whisk the dressing ingredients in a small bowl.
If you do not have or cannot find the SmakDab mustard (available online from its website and widely available throughout MB and BC), another mild grainy mustard can substitute and add 1 tsp of brown sugar. Regular red wine vinegar is a fine replacement for the raspberry version.
The dressing can be made in advance and is lovely on potato salad too with loads of dill and chives added.
5- Mix all of the dressing with the salad ingredients just a few minutes before serving.