Savory Summer Salad

After a long winter of imported vegetables we are starting to see local produce arrive in our supermarkets.  My daily go-to is an independent grocer called Battaglia’s.  It’s one of those rare grocers that still sits in the middle of a neighbourhood, this one Lorne Park in South Mississauga.   I also shop at Loblaw’s and Metro as well as Organic Planet, Elmwood Butchers, Just Steak and Auld Doug & Son Butchers on Clarkson Road.  Each have their forte and work hard for my business.

Battaglia’s has everything you need from fresh organic to ready-made, but the two reasons I go are the staff [where everybody know your name] and their sense of adventure which is as large as mine.  It’s guaranteed that every time I go in there will be some new, a BBQ sauce or a homemade frozen pasta entree that is just begging to be tried.

This week tasting adventure was offered in-store by Dolores of The Olivar Corp. who is passionate about health, whole food and it’s taste.  I left purchasing their San Carlos Transparent Balsamic Vinegar and the Oro San Carlos Extra Virgin Olive Oil from Spain.

Except for the olives in my martini’s, I must say that I know little about them, their production, harvesting and varietals.  Most of the olive oils I use are for cooking with as the health benefits are well documented.

With some fresh hot house tomatoes and basil, I wanted the dressing to be cleaner – to have the flavours compliment, not mask each other in taste and colour.

The delicate flavour of the oil and the transparency of the vinegar were a perfect match for this salad.  I sliced the tomatoes, which should always be at room temperature, and ripped the basil over top.  The oil and vinegar can be mixed in proporations to suit your taste.  The amount you add to the salad is also subjective.  Rick, my husband, for example likes more dressing on his salad than I do.

I had a hankering for something salty and savoury on the side, this time adding goat cheese.  My favourite currently is the award winning Le Cendrillo from Québec’s Alexis de Portneuf.  It’s a vegetable ash-covered cheese with a fairly strong taste.

This salad turned out amazing and I can’t wait to make it again.

Savory Summer Sautéed Scallops

I love scallops, but this is not something I normally have the courage to season or cook.  Scallops are so delicate in more than just flavour and texture.  Like everything I eat, I like to know where it comes from and how it is raised and harvested.  Finding information on scallops proved very difficult, except that the requisite problems exist like over-fishing and degradation to environment such as with fuel and pesticide run off.  Even elimination of sharks impacts as apparently they are the main predator of the Ray whose primary source of food is Scallops.

Sea scallops are on Greenpeace’s Redlist, which states that dredging nets create a lot of problems for the sea bed and other species.  According to them, Sea Scallops are harvested in the Atlantic ocean from the northern shores of the Gulf of St. Lawrence and Newfoundland to the U.S. coast of North Carolina.  I’ve never seen a Canadian scallop frozen or otherwise.

I haven’t been buying scallops or shrimp of late because it all appears to come from China.  As a rule of thumb, I never buy food that has to come from China to hit my plate which includes things like seafood and garlic.  Yesterday I spotted Toppit’s Frozen Scallops from the USA on special at my favourite Metro Supermarket.  I’m not sure if USA means the Atlantic Ocean or the Gulf of Mexico and this is kind of strange since Metro’s fish counter is all about traceability.  I guess what I’m flip-flopping around on here is: do your homework and make an informed choice.  Teach your kids that food goes beyond the styrofoam tray.  Anyway …

I bought the scallops as a side dish to our rib steaks.   Since they were frozen, I let them thaw slowly overnight in the fridge.  Scallops have similar sizing to shrimps in the smaller the number the larger the piece.  These were 10/15 which means they were a good size for pan searing, but practically there were about eight in the package.  Rick used 1/3 fresh squeezed lime juice, four cloves of garlic and gluten free soy sauce as a marinade.   Timing was the hard part since scallops only need a couple of minutes on each side to cook and they cool quickly.

 

Therefore, the asparagus was still hot in the foil pouch, the steaks were cooked and resting on a plate and the corn went into the pot just as Rick heated our Komin cast iron pan.  This is something most people forget when cooking with good pans.  You’ve got to heat the pan before you add any oils.

When the pan was hot, but not smoking, Rick browned the butter and then added the scallops.

They were perfectly cooked and very tasty.   In spite of his humour, and withholding important BBQ tips, Rick and the Komin pan are keepers 😉