Monday, February 22, 2010

Spinach, Chorizo and Manchego Salad w/Saffron Vinaigrette

Pretty simple entry for today but some of my favorite favorite food items.. Cheese, sausage, spinach and wonderful wonderful saffron.

I served this alongside a steak dinner, which I don't recommend. This salad is probably better off as a first course, paired with a medium-ish second course like a hearty bean soup or a simple pasta/rice dish.

Anywho, I was inspired during a recent Dean & Deluca run when I saw turkey chorizo on the shelf. Latin/Hispanic food on the whole, isn't very popular in Kuwait. So far, the only chorizo I've been able to get is dried Spanish that I've ordered through the mail and I can never seen to keep enough of it around.

So I thought - get the chorizo, pick up a Spanish cheese (immediately manchego came to mind, probably the most popular Spanish cheese) and get some baby spinach since Dean & Deluca seems to be the only place where I can find any fresh. Dressing.. Dressing.. What do I dress this with? Ahh.. Something with saffron! A Saffron Vinaigrette? Ah yes, perfect! I wonder if there's a recipe I can fiddle around with online? (there was).

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

The result....

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Quite good. As I said, pair it with something that isn't so heavy because the flavors of this salad are quite big themselves and you don't want to overwhelm your palate (especially with chimi-marinated steaks Image and video hosting by TinyPic)

For the Saffron Vinaigrette:

½ c. White Wine Vinegar
1 Shallot - minced
½ t. Saffron threads
½ c. Quality Olive Oil
1 T. White Sugar
Salt to taste

* In a small saucepan, with a small pour of olive oil, saute shallots over medium heat for 2 minutes. Add in vinegar, saffron and sugar and heat to a simmer for 2-3 minutes (in order for the saffron to get blooming). Remove from heat and let cool.

* When vinegar is cooled, whisk in olive oil and salt either by hand or in a food processor. Ta-da.

(Dean & Deluca AND TSC failed me when it came to a good vinegar selection so I was reduced to using apple cider but for a better dressing please please use something like white wine vinegar)
Image and video hosting by TinyPic
Image and video hosting by TinyPic
Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Manchego Cheese

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

A lovely artisan Spanish cheese, Manchego is produced only in the La Mancha region of Spain exclusively through Manchego breed ewes. It is semi-firm (although sometimes described as firm, which is how I would describe it personally) and is cave aged for at least 2 months.

It's taste is described as being much like feta (although hard, and less salty) with a bit of piquant and a very tell tale sheep's milk aftertaste (whatever that means, haven't developed the palate yet to figure that one out). I do find that it has a nice peppery bite to it though.

I usually use this cheese much as I do Parmesan in that I really like it grated or shaved in pastas, risottos and in salads. However, it's a fantastic snack cheese that can be served with bread, oil and fruits so it does have more versatility than simply being grated.

Source(s): (very extensive site regarding subject matter)


Heavens to Betsy, I'm not sure charcuterie
gets much better than Chorizo. One of the most awesome culinary finds my MIL exposed me to, I'm not sure how I lived before I'd ever tried Chorizo. And that's saying a lot because I use to be a former sausage-nay sayer, not ever really appreciating the value of such art (and don't kid yourself, stuffing gut linings with manipulated meat IS art).

There are two major types of chorizo – Spanish and Mexican. Both are very commonly made from pork, but beef, turkey and venison (and even vegan? /shockface) versions can be found. The Spanish type tends to be mostly dried and cured (curado) (although sometimes is made with fattier cuts of pork and can be found fresh). Spanish chorizo also, in most instances, incorporates pieces/chunks of ham in it's production. The main spicing agent of Spanish chorizo is sweet Spanish paprika. Spanish chorizo is meant to be sliced without being cooked and is typically eaten alongside breads, cheeses and olives, tapas-style.

Mexican chorizo tends to be fresh (fresco) (although it can be found dried as well) and is meant to be crumbled and cooked like other ground meats (Mexican chorizo is ground, while Spanish is more or less chopped). The main spicing agents are chile powders, which makes Mexican chorizo typically much spicier than it's European counterpart. It can be added to soups, eaten as a breakfast meat along with eggs and/or potatoes, and is fabulous in fresh tortillas as a taco filling.

There is also an other type of chorizo from Portugal that is very similar to the Spanish variety but incorporates the addition of wine in it's production. “Portuguese chorico” is said to be popularly served by slicing and cooking over an open flame, tabletop.

Spanish “dry” Chorizo
Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Mexican “fresh” Chorizo
Image and video hosting by TinyPic

GREAT place from which to buy/order a HUGE variety of Spanish chorizos and other Spanish/pork products