Spruce up your summer dinner party offering with these simple yet delicious salads. Taken from Bestia: Italian Recipes Created in the Heart of L.A., the debut recipe book created by husband-and-wife chef/owners of Los Angeles restaurant, Bestia, in which they share their charming personal story as well as many of their recipes, all presented in a stunning visual manner.
“This salad came about because I love dill pickles. The celery, dill, and turmeric are a play on classic pickling spices, and the Gorgonzola has the same effect as the blue cheese dip that sometimes accompanies Southern-fried pickles. In summertime, the markets here have a huge variety of cucumbers, and we use a mix of different kinds to add complexity to the salad—each has its own characteristics. Whatever kind you choose, just make sure your cucumbers were grown in the dirt, not a hothouse, and choose plums with a nice amount of acidity; if they’re too sweet they’ll overwhelm the cucumbers.” Serves 4.
1 ear sweet corn, husk and silk removed
2 Persian or other thin-skinned cucumbers, halved lengthwise and sliced into half-moons about 1/4 inch thick
2 ounces fresh watercress leaves
3 tablespoons Turmeric Vinaigrette (recipe below)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup watercress
1 ripe plum, halved, pitted, and cut into 16 thin wedges
Maldon or other flaky sea salt
2 tablespoons crème fraîche, at room temperature
1 ounce Gorgonzola cheese, preferably Gorgonzola Dolce, frozen for at least 3 hours
Celery leaves and small dill sprigs for garnish
Pinch of dill or fennel pollen (optional)
Preheat a cast-iron frying pan over high heat. Place the corn directly on the pan and let sear, turning as needed, until evenly charred on all sides. Transfer to a cutting board and let sit until cool enough to handle, then cut off the kernels with a knife.
In a large bowl, combine the cucumbers, corn, and purslane and toss by hand to combine. Add 2 tablespoons of the vinaigrette, season with kosher salt and pepper, and toss. Taste and adjust the seasoning as necessary.
In a separate large bowl, lightly dress the watercress with the remaining 1 tablespoon vinaigrette. Season with kosher salt and pepper and toss well.
Pile the cucumber salad in a large shallow serving bowl or on a platter and top it with the dressed watercress. Season the plum slices with Maldon salt and arrange on top of the salad. Whisk the crème fraîche with a fork a little to loosen the consistency and drizzle on top. Grate the frozen Gorgonzola over everything until the entire salad is fully coated. Garnish with the celery leaves, dill, and a pinch of dill pollen, if desired, and serve.
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons champagne vinegar
1 tablespoon calamansi vinegar
1 teaspoon minced shallot
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon grated fresh turmeric, or 1/2 teaspoon plus 1/8 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
In a bowl, combine the lemon juice, both vinegars, and the shallot and set aside for 10 minutes. Add the salt and ground and fresh turmeric, then slowly drizzle in the olive oil while whisking until the dressing is combined and emulsified.