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Cooking with David


Copyright © 2006, 2010 by David E. Ross

General Notes

Mozzarella Salad

Curried Garbanzo Salad

General Notes

While some people chill both a salad and the plates from which it will be eaten, I find that suppresses the flavor. I prefer most salads near room temperature to bring out all the flavors.

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It takes four persons to make a good salad:

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Both a salad and its dressing may be prepared in advance. However, don't add the dressing until just before serving. Otherwise, the salad may become soggy. (However, coleslaw should be dressed even a day in advance. Both the taste and the texture of the cabbage seem to improve after long contact with the dressing.)

Always use a serving bowl much larger than you think is necessary. When tossing a salad, there should be enough room to do so vigorously without getting salad all over the table.

Be careful when mixing seasonings for the dressing. Except for possibly a slight hint of garlic, no one herb or spice should stand out and dominate the others. It's better for someone not to quite recognize what they are tasting in the dressing than to know for sure.

Mozzarella Salad

Because of the onion and cucumber, this is a strong-flavored salad. However, the basil tends to moderate the flavors.

Today, I brought this to the Ventura County Grand Jury (where I'm a member for 2006-2007) for a potluck lunch for the 19 jurors. There was another salad, many cold cuts, and other dishes. Most of this salad was gone by the end of lunch.

The Salad

1 large cucumber
1 red onion
2-3 large ripe tomatoes
a large lump of mozzarella cheese (about 1 lb)
a bunch of fresh basil leaves
12 Greek olives
3-5 slices of dry Italian salami (optional)

Cut the cucumber in half lengthwise. Cut each half crosswise into very thin slices.

Peel the onion. Cut it in half lengthwise. Cut each half crosswise into very thin slices. Separate the slices into individual strips. If they are large, cut the strips in halves or thirds.

Dice the tomatoes and the cheese.

If the basil leaves are large, cut or tear them in half.

Coarsely chop the olives.

If you are using salami, mince it into very small pieces.

The Dressing

1/4 cup olive oil
1 TBS wine vinegar
1 TBS capers
1 tsp dried mustard
1 tsp dried dill leaves or 1 small sprig of fresh dill

Blend the dressing ingredients until the capers are finely chopped.

Pour the dressing over the salad and toss thoroughly.

Depending on what else is being served, this might serve 6-10.

Note there is no salt. The capers provide sufficient salt, and the onion eliminates any real need for salt.

For the basil, I cut two large branches and stripped the leaves. This being late in the season, most leaves were quite small; so I used the whole leaves. Do not use dried basil for this salad.

I used kalamata olives, which I can buy already pitted at a local grocery.

21 November 2006

Curried Garbanzo Salad

Garbanzo beans are also called chickpeas.

I adapted this from a recipe that appeared on the Los Angeles Times in 2009. The Times cited the restaurant Joan's on Third as the source.

1/2 cup chopped onion
4 TBS olive oil

1/2 tsp tumeric
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 pinch ground cinnamon
1 pinch ground cloves

2 cans (15 oz each) garbanzo beans
2 TBS chopped fresh cilantro
1 TBS lemon juice

Prepare the Ingredients

Drain the garbanzo beans.

Chop the onion coarsely.

Measure the six spices into a small cup. Stir well with a dry fork.

Chop the cilantro leaves.


Measure the olive oil into a large frying pan. Heat the oil over a medium-high fire. Add the onion. Cook for 6-8 minutes until brown and slightly crisp, stirring often.

Add the spices. Cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly.

Add the garbanzo beans, chopped cilantro, and lemon juice. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring often.

Turn off the fire. Add a dash or two of salt, and stir well.

When cool, refrigerate. When chilled, taste to see if more salt might be needed.

Serve chilled (unlike most salads).

As a before-meal salad, this might be served with a selection of other salads. It's also good as a side dish during the meal.

Measure the cayenne pepper carefully. It gives a delayed "kick" in the seasonings, so you must make sure not to use too much.

I had cumin seeds rather than ground cumin. I used an electric coffee mill to grind them, measuring the ground result not the seeds. The same may be done with coriander, cloves, and other whole spices. Just be sure to wipe out the inside of the mill thoroughly when all the spices have been ground.

Cinnamon and cloves are often used in curry. If you like, you may increase one or both to 1/4 tsp each.

If you have a source of good, authentic, ready-mixed curry powder, you may use 2 tsp of it in place of the individual spices.

22 March 2010

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