First off, Happy Earth Day to you!! If you are a faithful follower to the Lou, I bet you are already taking small but meaningful steps to improve the health of our planet. If not, hop aboard! Imagine the powerful impact we can make together if each of us made conscious decisions to reduce, reuse and recycle, compost table scraps, collect rain water, eat locally grown foods, plant a garden...whew! But I digress…onto the salad.
I’ve had a hankerin’ for this Stetson Chopped Salad ever since coming back from our trip to Scottsdale Arizona a few months ago. People go gaga over this salad and now I know why- it truly is one of the most unusual and best tasting salads I have ever tasted.
Thankfully Cowboy Ciao restaurant, the creative genius behind this Stetson Chopped Salad, is generous enough to share the recipe for anyone to try to recreate and enjoy the flavors at home.
The salad is a perfect marriage of unique ingredients. Toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds) and freeze dried sweet corn add crunch; arugula supplies a peppery bite; the aged cheese and tomatoes offer umami taste; the dried currents provide a touch of sweetness, and the smoked fish and dressing add just the right amount of saltiness.
When this salad is presented to diners at Cowboy Ciao, each ingredient is separated on a platter, then tossed tableside with the pesto buttermilk dressing to bring all of the flavors together.
This month’s Recipe Redux theme encourages members to utilize their “treasured kitchen tool” in creating a healthy dish. While preparing this salad, I was able to use my oldie-but-goodie, trusty-but-not-rusty steel tip knife that was handed down from my father. Somewhere along the way the tip of the knife broke off, but that hasn’t stopped me from treasuring this piece of cutlery and using it to chop, dice and mince.
I took a few liberties with a couple of the ingredients, using grape tomatoes rather than Roma, smoked trout rather than salmon and Parm-Reggiano rather than asiago. The results were delightful, reminiscent of the original. But you can bet your buckaroos, the next time I saunter back to Scottsdale, I will be stopping by Cowboy Ciao for second helpings!
Stetson Chopped Salad (adapted from the Cowboy Ciao original)
The dressing ingredients:
1/4 cup basil pesto
1/2 shallot, roughly chopped
1/2 cup aioli (if cant find aioli, mix together 1/4 cup light mayo, 1 clove minced garlic and 1/4 cup olive oil)
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Salt to taste
For the dressing: Combine pesto, shallot and aioli in a food processor; blend thoroughly. With motor running, add buttermilk. Add pepper and lemon juice; blend to combine. Season with salt to taste. Makes about 1 1/4 cups.
The salad ingredients:
3/4 cup cooked Israeli couscous
1 cup chopped arugula
2/3 cup halved grape tomatoes
2/3 cup diced smoked trout
2 tablespoon crumbled Parmesano Reggiano cheese
2 tablespoon toasted pepitas
1/4 cup dried currants
1/4 cup freeze-dried corn (I found "Just Corn" brand at Whole Foods, but I know I have seen freeze-dried corn at Target too)
For the salad: Arrange ingredients in separate rows on a large platter, but have cheese, pepitas and currants mixed together in 1 row. Toss salad at the table. Makes 4 servings.