Sunday, March 13, 2011

Hands On: Spinach and Steak Salad

Spring is almost here - that means salads with fresh and local greens are almost here too.  Are you ready?  Do you have a good supply of your favorite kinds of oil and vinegar on hand?  And some Dijon mustard and maybe some shallots or garlic?  Kosher salt?  Fresh ground pepper?

Yesterday Frank and I attended the annual Local Food Expo in Winona, Minnesota.  There was a great winter farmers market and we got to do a cooking demonstration.  Frank showed different knife sharpening techniques and sliced up a beautiful pile of steak to add to the salad we made.  (The meat was purchased - frozen - at the Lanesboro Local retail store in Lanesboro.  It was raised at Hodgson Farm and cooked to medium rare perfection by Lanesboro Pastry Shoppe chef Brett Stecher the day before.  Who says corn fed tastes best?  Not me.)

I brought along a few bags of beautiful overwintered greenhouse spinach from Featherstone Farm and showed the audience how quick and easy it is to wash, dry and store fresh salad greens.  I also showed the group how easy it is to mix up some good olive oil, dijon mustard, salt, pepper and chopped shallots in a large bowl.  I tossed the oil mixture with the spinach right in the bowl and then added just a bit of sherry vinegar to finish the dressing.  And - I confess - I vehemently discouraged people from using bottled dressings of any kind.  I am sorry, but they are just not necessary.  They are also costly and none taste as good as what we can make at home.  We also talked about the importance of owning a salad spinner.  Do you have yours yet?

Then we made a composed salad with the dressed spinach as a base.  We added blanched fresh green beans from Whitewater Farm's greenhouse and julienned daikon red radish.  (I used a big Featherstone Farm radish that had been stored in my home refrigerator for about three months.  It was in perfect shape.) Everybody got an ample sample - including a few pieces of meat.

Locally raised grass fed steaks can be expensive - especially if you don't buy in bulk directly from the farmer.  Topping a fresh vegetable salad with a few strips of steak is a great way to stretch that expensive meat. Everybody gets a nice satisfying animal protein hit and you have enough money left over for some quality bread and wine to round out the meal.  Meat in moderation - that's my mantra.  And if the meat has been raised by someone you know on a farm that you could visit if you wanted to -  that is frosting on the cake.

Here is a link to a Winona Daily News article about the event.

And here are a few pictures that we took.

Peggy Hanson and Jenni McHugh, wife of Featherstone Farm farmer Jack Hedin

Frank Wright shows his Japanese sharpening stones to Tom VanderLinden, University of Minnesota Extension agent

Peggy Hanson (left) and Liz Heywood, manager of Bluff Country Co-op in Winona.  With spinach salad - topped with steak, winter radish and green beans.  Olive oil, sherry vinegar and shallot vinaigrette.

No comments:

Post a Comment