The Cooking Chronicles: Salads for Supper

Salads are definitely one of those things I know I should be eating more often – instead of being relegated to a side, and in place of some worse-for-me things like white rice. I’ve only made the recent discovery that salads don’t have to involve greens (read: lettuce, arugula, spinach) of any kind, and moreover, don’t have to be served cold. Imagine that!

Rice Noodle Cucumber Salad

A rice noodle cucumber salad from Rose Murray’s A Taste of Canada seemed like a great way to combine Asian pantry essentials (fish sauce, soy sauce, sesame oil, vermicelli noodles) with fresh farmers’ market produce: I had picked up a red pepper and a cucumber from Doef’s Greenhouses, as well as ground pork from Irvings. While not as dish consuming as our asparagus and poached eggs recipe from a few weeks back, we still ran through a few pots and pans to pull everything together.

Rice noodle cucumber salad

The result? An interesting combination of flavours and textures – from the heat of red chili flakes to the salty punch of the soy and fish sauces, and the sweet crunch of the cucumber and bell pepper – it’s definitely not your typical green salad. In hindsight, I would have included more pork and vermicelli for additional protein and balance – while the salad made a light meal great for a hot summer night, by late evening, we were both looking for something to nibble on.

Warm Spinach Salad with Yankee Fish Cakes

Okay, this is a green salad. But it’s served warm! I used the balsamic dressing from Company’s Coming that I have made before (balsamic vinegar, olive oil, garlic, honey, mustard, salt pepper), as well as the idea of adding sautéed mushrooms (this time, meaty Portobello from Mo Na). They warmed – but didn’t wilt – the Sundog Organics spinach nicely.

What really made this a meal, however, were the Yankee fish cakes. Many of the recipes in Saveur’s June/July market issue caught my eye, but this one most of all. I’ve never made fish cakes before, but with such an easy and delicious recipe, I know I will be making them again soon.

While the haddock (from Ocean Odyssey) cooked down with cream, onions and celery, I was able to pull together the flavourings and binding agents – minced pickle, Tabasco, dill, mayo, lemon zest, lemon juice, an egg and breadcrumbs. We added the cooled fish mixture, combined the mixture, and formed eight fish cakes. The last step was to coat them in cornmeal, and let them set in the fridge for half an hour.

Fish cakes for the fridge

Frying them in a hot, butter-coated skillet was the easiest part…or was it eating them? Mack and I both declared the recipe a winner – I loved the cornmeal coating, for its grainy sweetness, and firm, yet textured interior (the celery, for example, retained its crunch). And the haddock definitely came through it all.

Yankee fish cakes on warm spinach salad

Eaten with the warm spinach salad, it was a really satisfying meal. Thanks, Saveur!

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