Okay. Here’s another one of my “I’ve been making this for oh-so-long” recipes. I clipped it out of a magazine (maybe San Diego Home & Garden?) at one time and then when I received Wolfgang Puck’s Live, Love, Eat! cookbook as a gift years ago, it was in there too. I have since lost the one from the magazine, but still have the cookbook (albeit pages 1-45 have come loose from the binding, which is very funny because the two recipes I use – Chinois Chicken Salad and this one, are on pages 42 and 44. The rest of the book is perfectly intact.)
This is called Chino Chopped Vegetable Salad. Wolfgang calls it that because he says “What tastes better and lighter on a hot summer day than a fresh vegetable salad? No one I know grows better vegetables than the Chino family on their organic farm in Rancho Santa Fe north of San Diego.” To be quite honest, I’ve never been to Chino Farms. I just had to look to see if they are still around. They are. But since the time Wolfgang published the cookbook (2003), farmer’s markets have sprouted up all over the place and you can get really wonderful farm fresh veggies at any of them.
This is one of my favorite salads. I’ve simplified it a bit and often take shortcuts by using frozen (shhhh…don’t tell Wolfgang or the Chino family) veggies. There’s a lot of chopping involved, but really, it’s pretty easy. The dressing makes enough that you’ll have more than you need. So save the leftovers and use for another salad another day (or…make this one again!)
And, be creative…use whatever veggies you like. Fresh peas, chopped zucchini…if you like hearts of palm better than artichoke hearts, use those.
Chino Chopped Vegetable Salad
Dijon Mustard Vinaigrette:
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons sherry wine vinegar (or you can use red wine vinegar)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup safflower oil
freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup chopped artichoke hearts (from a jar of marinated hearts, drained)
1/2 cup diced carrots
1/2 cup diced green beans (you can use fresh or I’ve used Trader Joe’s frozen haricots verts)
1/2 cup diced red onion
1/2 cup chopped radicchio
1/2 cup corn kernels (you can use fresh or I’ve used Trader Joe’s frozen roasted corn)
1/2 cup diced celery
1 small tomato, chopped
1 small avocado, peeled, pitted and chopped
4 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
To prepare the vinaigrette: In a small bowl, combine the mustard and vinegar. Whisking continuously, slowly pour in the oils and mix until emulsified. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
To prepare the salad:
If using fresh green beans – bring a pot of boiling water to a boil. Put the beans in a wire strainer, set inside the pot of boiling water and cook until al dente, tender, but still firm, 2 to 3 minutes. Plunge the strainer into a bowl of cold water to stop the cooking process. Drain and set aside to cool.
If using frozen green beans (and frozen corn) – put the beans and corns into a colander. Run hot water over for a few minutes until defrosted. Drain and set aside.
In a large bowl, add artichoke hearts, carrots, green beans, red onion, radicchio, corn and celery. Gently toss with a little vinaigrette. Just before serving, add the tomato and avocado. Gently toss again with a little more vinaigrette. Divide salad among salad plates and sprinkle with the grated Parmesan. Season with freshly ground pepper.