Monday, March 10, 2008

Cup o' Salad

Here we have a very delicious spinach salad in what Giadia DeLaurentis calls a "frico cup". It's a pile of parmesan cheese that was melted in the oven, then shaped in a muffin tin to make a little edible salad bowl. (I wish I'd gotten a photo of the bowl-shape, but I was more interested in the salad...)
I began with her recipe for the spinach salad: fresh spinach cut in a chiffonade, thin-sliced red onion, and sliced almonds. Then I added some sliced fresh mushrooms and dried cherries.

I made my own balsamic viniagrette dressing instead of using her citrus dressing. It was really simple, just one part balsamic vinegar (I used the 18 year-old stuff we bought at Pike Place Market), two parts olive oil (extra virgin), and a teaspoon of crushed garlic. Put it all in a little jar with a lid and shook it up. Oh. My. That aged balsamic vinegar is a little sweet, and thick, and oh, so tasty.

I know not everyone has aged balsamic, so if you use some that is a little "younger", it will be a bit tangy, but still good. I found a wonderful viniagrette recipe website here. I'm thinking the strawberry sounds good...

Here's the recipe from Giada's Food Network page:

Spinach Salad in a Parmesan Frico Cup

Recipe courtesy Giada De Laurentiis

For the Parmesan Frico Cups:

1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan

For the Citrus Vinaigrette:

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon orange juice

1/2 teaspoon lemon zest

1/2 teaspoon orange zest

1 teaspoon honey

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the Spinach Salad:

6 ounces baby spinach leaves (about 6 cups)

1 orange, cut into segments

1/3 cup sliced almonds, toasted

1/2 red onion, thinly sliced

Special equipment: a silpat mat, a muffin tin, and a small drinking glass

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

For the Parmesan Frico Cups: Place a silpat mat on a baking sheet. Place 6 (1/4-cup) mounds of Parmesan cheese on the mat and gently tap down until each mound is flat and 4 1/2 to 5 inches in diameter. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until golden and bubbly. Working quickly, use a thin spatula to transfer the Parmesan Frico to a muffin tin. Gently place a small drinking glass on top of the Parmesan Frico to mold it into the shape 1 of the muffin cups. Let cool until firm, about 5 minutes. Continue with the remaining Parmesan cheese.

For the Citrus Vinaigrette: Combine all the ingredients in a jar or a tight-sealing plastic container. Shake to blend.

For the Spinach Salad: In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients. Drizzle with vinaigrette and toss to combine. Divide the salad among the Parmesan Frico Cups and serve immediately.