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Friday, April 30, 2010

Bottom Dwellers

Every now and then I have to clean out the refrigerator.  I usually make a stock with the bottom dwellers in the vegetable bin along with reserved bagged frozen chicken parts.  Last night, the vegetable bin was packed with more than just stock stuff.  There were good things lurking under onion skins, empty bags, and broken separated garlic cloves.  I love the challenge that comes with a refrigerator clean out night dinner.

I happened to have all the ingredients for a Salad Nicoise with the addition of some unconventional vegetable bin squatters.  I whisked up a traditional vinaigrette of lemon, dijon, salt, and pepper and set it aside.

I chopped , rinsed, and dried the crunchy pale green inner parts of romaine lettuce. After boiling a couple of eggs, quartering roma tomatoes, and slicing purple onions into rings, I got my grill pan very hot over a gas flame.  I wanted a combination of fresh vegetables mixed with smoky grilled vegetables, so I grilled blanched green beans, fresh pencil-thin asparagus, and quartered Yukon gold potatoes.  While they were still warm I tossed the them with the lemony mustard dressing to absorb the flavors.  While they soaked up their vinaigrette bath I grilled thinnly sliced Black Forest Ham until it was curled and crisp.

With the grill pan smoking hot, I flash-marked sushi grade ahi tuna steaks and set them aside to rest.

After layering the chopped romaine hearts with tomatoes, halved boiled eggs, pickled radishes, and the crisped julienned ham, I placed the marinated grilled vegetables  over the chilled uncooked salad, fanned the sliced medium rare ahi tuna over the top, and scattered Nicoise black olives over the tuna. Once everything was drizzled with the remaining vinaigrette, I cracked a ridculous amount of Tellicherry black peppercorns for aromatic heat.

Salad Nicoise with attitude.  Major attitude.  The grill provided a smoky rich under-flavor that complimented the fresh bright vinaigrette and the uncooked crisp salad base. Clean and deep.

A tasty dinner and an empty vegetable bin. Time to reload.  Heaven.

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