Beck’s Garden District Salad

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At La Cucina’s “Girls Night Out” Cajun Cooking Class, Chef Bill Beck shared his tricks of the trade

The Garden District in New Orleans is world famous as an example of Southern architecture.

The District earned its name because of the mansions built in this spot for the wealthy plantation owners: their supersized houses initially featured glorious oversized gardens.

As the City grew during the late 1800s, a number of the owners of these spectacular mansions sold off parcels of their land and smaller Victorian houses were built on the site of these former gardens.

Today, the Garden District is a unique melting pot of architectural styles, characterized by “a mélange of high styles gleaned from not just the Spanish and French, but also from the Italians, the British, and the “Greek Revival.” (for further info, see About.com’s insightful overview on the District’s lineage.)

The food emanating from New Orleans reflects the varied influences that shape and define this unique city – which is what makes the New Orleans cuisine so attractive.

In tribute to this heritage, Chef Bill Beck of Beck’s Cajun Cafe rolled out his Garden District Salad at a recent cooking class held at La Cucina in Reading Terminal Market.  The classes, designated as a “Girls’ Night Out,” focused on Cajun cooking with Chef Bill demonstrating a series of New Orleans small plates, including this Garden District Salad.

The salad is colorful and evocative of sunshine-laden days spent in New Orleans….

Ingredients

(This salad serves 4 people.  Scale up quantities dependent on the size of your dinner party!)

1x jar of marinated artichokes

4 stems of hearts of palm, cut into 1/2 inch rounds

1 red pepper roasted and skin removed, then cut into strips.

Spring mix salad greens

For the vinaigrette dressing

(The recipe below produces approximately 14 oz of dressing.  As the recipe includes raw egg we would not recommend storing the dressing for any length of time.  Use immediately.  If you would like to omit the egg then the dressing will keep for longer, perhaps 2-3 days, in the fridge.

2 tsps of Dijon mustardbsps olive oil

3 cloves of garlic minced

1 egg white

6oz of virgin olive oil

4oz of vegetable oil

2 tbsps of finely minced cloves

2-3 tbsps of water

1 1/2 tbsps of honey

Juice of a lemon

1 1/2 oz Apple Cider

1 1/2 oz Champagne Cider

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

1. Mix first three ingredients together in a bowl.

2. Slowly add the two types of oil to this mix. Add approx 2oz at a time (Note the virgin olive oil provides a strong flavor.  To balance this out and ensure that the salad is not overwhelmed, Chef Bill prefers to use vegetable oil in tandem with the virgin oil.)

3. Add chives, water – to thin the dressing slightly – and the honey.

4. Add the juice of the lemon and then add the two vinegars a little at a time — to stretch out the dressing.

5. Season with salt and pepper.

6. Toss Spring mix salad in dressing, then add in other prepared salad ingredients (artichokes, pepper, hearts of palm.)

The resulting salad has great texture and crunch.  Enjoy!

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