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March 4, 2016

Asian Salad with Ginger Soy Vinaigrette

by Anne Paddock

The Farmer’s Table restaurant  in Boca Raton, Florida serves a Mandarin Chopped Salad with Ginger Soy Vinaigrette that is remarkable for its flavor, texture, and color. Filled with chopped cabbage, red bell peppers, carrots, broccoli florets, mandarin oranges, and candied cashews tossed in a Ginger Soy Vinaigrette, the Mandarin Chopped Salad is a showstopper and one of those dishes that made me wish the salad bowl was bottomless. In other words, I had to figure out how to make a version of this salad in my own kitchen.

Gathering the raw vegetables was easy and the only time-consuming part was chopping them up.Vegetables_in_Asian_Salad

Instead of mandarin oranges, navel orange slices (which are slightly firmer) were added (followed by toasted sesame seeds). Other vegetables – baby bok choy and enoki mushrooms – were also added as was a handful of freshly chopped cilantro leaves.  Instead of broccoli florets, I used broccolini which has smaller florets and longer stalks along with a slightly sweeter flavor.Asian_Salad

Figuring out the vinaigrette was more of a challenge because there was both the taste and the texture to consider. The flavor had to be strong enough to emerge and bring the nuances of the varied vegetables together but not overwhelm while the texture needed to be slightly creamy to bring the salad together. After consulting my cookbooks and on-line resources, I started blending and tasting until a creamy vinaigrette emerged from my food processor (hint:  definitely use a food processor to blend and whip up the dressing) that was both tasty, slightly sweet, and tangy.

This Asian Salad with Ginger Soy Vinaigrette has the wow factor in both its beautiful presentation and taste. The sliced oranges and toasted sesame seeds add a tasty dimension. For added crunch and a nutty addition, add a cup of candied  walnuts, cashews, or roasted peanuts to the salad.Asian_Slaw

Asian Salad with Ginger Soy Vinaigrette

Salad Ingredients:

  • 1 very small head or 1/3 of a large head of green cabbage, chopped into bite sized pieces
  • 1 very small head or 1/3 of a large head of red cabbage, chopped into bite sized pieces
  • 4 large carrots, peeled, and then chopped into matchstick pieces
  • 1/2 of a red pepper, chopped into very small pieces
  • 1 bunch of broccolini, blanched for 1 minute and then cut into bite sized pieces (stalks included)
  • 1 small head of Baby Bok Choy, with the lower 3 inches of the bottom bulb-like base removed and discarded, and the rest chopped into bite sized pieces
  • 1 small bunch of Enoki mushrooms (long, thin white mushrooms), the bottom 2 inches cut off and discarded
  • 1/2 cup of fresh chopped cilantro leaves
  • 6 navel oranges, skin removed and cut into small slices. Click here to see a video on how to segment an orange.
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds (not raw because toasted seeds have more flavor)
  • 1 cup of candied cashews, walnuts, almonds or roasted peanuts (optional)Asian_Salad_with_Ginger_Soy_vinaigrette

Place all of the above ingredients (except the nuts) in a very large serving bowl and toss.Asian_Salad

Ginger Soy Vinaigrette Ingredients

  • 1/2 clove elephant garlic or 1 clove of garlic, put through a garlic press
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger (if you place ginger in the freezer until frozen, ginger is very easy to grate. Simply cut the dry skin off and grate)
  • 3 tablespoons white rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon honey (if you don’t want to use honey, use an extra teaspoon of light brown sugar or the sweetener of your choice)
  • 1/4 cup neutral oil (safflower, grapeseed, canola)
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil

Blend all of the above ingredients in a food processor about 30 seconds until the ingredients are completely combined and the dressing is a light beige color.

Pour the dressing slowly over the salad and toss the ingredients. Refrigerate for a few hours before serving.

Before serving invert the salad into another large bowl so that the dressing on the bottom further coats the vegetables. Add the nuts to the salad, tossing again to distribute the nuts throughout the salad. Makes approximately 8 large servings or 12 smaller servings. The salad will retain its crispness and bright colors for 3-4 days stored in the refrigerator.

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