Thursday, September 2, 2010

Spinach and Black Plum Salad

Recently I have developed a new addiction. Actually, it’s not a new addiction, just a seasonal one. Every summer since I can remember, I develop compulsive fruit-eating behavior. I blame my parents; they always kept the kitchen stocked with every summer fruit you could ever want. Now, when good fruit is in season, I just can’t stop buying and eating it. Maybe it’s less about my parents and more about growing up in Ohio where there is such a short season for delicious summer fruit. It makes you appreciate it more. Regardless, when peaches, plums, cherries, grapes, figs, and so on are available, it’s pretty much a guarantee that I’m meeting my daily fruit requirement… and then some.

The recipe for today’s salad comes from Padma Lakshmi, the ridiculously gorgeous host of television’s Top Chef. When I first saw her on the show several years ago, I was skeptical of her food chops, assuming she got the job based on her looks rather than her culinary prowess. And while I’m sure her looks didn’t hurt, the girl knows her stuff when it comes to food, having developed her palette through years of world travel. Since I’m a fan of the show, I decided to check out her cookbook. This is the first recipe I’ve tried, but since I found it to be incredibly delicious, I will certainly be trying more.

Today’s salad features some unique flavor combinations and is incredibly easy to make. The base of the salad is tender, leafy spinach mixed with torn fresh mint leaves. At first I was unsure about using so much mint in the salad, afraid it would make the salad taste like dessert – or toothpaste. In reality, the mint adds pops of freshness to the salad without being overwhelming at all. Juicy plum slices add sweetness and nicely counter the slightly tart citrus-balsamic dressing. A sprinkle of sea salt just before serving adds a nice crunch and basically ties everything together. All in all, this simple salad is the perfect vehicle for enjoying fresh summer plums… you know, if we’re not talking about including buttery, sugary toppings.

Spinach and Black Plum Salad
Adapted from Tangy Tart Hot & Sweet


For the Dressing:
5 T. extra virgin olive oil
1 T. balsamic vinegar
1 T. lime juice (or yuzu juice if you can find it)
Juice of 1 ripe lemon
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For the Salad:
3 black plums, ripe but still firm, pitted and sliced
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, torn
6 – 10 oz. baby spinach leaves
Crushed or coarse sea salt

Add all of the dressing ingredients to a large serving bowl. Whisk to combine.

Just before serving, add the plums, mint, and spinach to the serving bowl. Toss well to combine.

Sprinkle the sea salt over the top of the salad and serve immediately. (If you add the salt too soon, it will dissolve into the dressing rather than remaining little crunchy bits.)

Serves 4 to 6.

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