Saturday, October 16, 2010
TAHOE, SALMON SALAD, AND A FINE BREAD
On our way out of Placerville, on a tip from my cousin Heather, we stopped at Beyond Baked, which had an outstanding array of sweet and savory baked goods. As soon as I saw this foccaccia with tomatoes, red onions, and cheese, I knew I had to buy it to round out our evening meal. Good thing we arrived early or they would have been sold out.
I'll get back to dinner later. Here are some sights from our approach to Tahoe's south shore.
As for our day at Tahoe, we saw a lot, but definitely took our time. One treat was to walk the trail from the Taylor Creek visitor center.
We also checked out the Tallac Historic site, Camp Richardson, and the beach in front of a restaurant called the Beacon, where you can rent all manner of boats.
Fortunately, dinner that night didn't take much work, just some slicing and assembly. Using salmon we'd grilled the night before (I was planning ahead), I made salmon-watermelon salad. When I first heard of this dish several years ago, the combination of salmon, watermelon, tomatoes, olives, mint, and feta struck me as so unlikely that eventually I had to break down and try it. Although new to me, apparently it's not uncommon in parts of the south. In any case, I've come to love it and have always found it to be a crowd-pleaser.
Here's another one of my non-recipe recipes, where I'll leave it to you to determine quantities based on your preferences and the number of people you're cooking for.
Salmon (sauteed, baked, grilled - I've even done it in the microwave), cut or torn into bite-size pieces
Watermelon, cut into bite-size pieces
Olives - I like kalamatas
Tomatoes, sliced or, if small, halved (for this meal, we were lucky to have some heirlooms left over from Ferry Plaza farmers market, along with some grape tomatoes from Marilyn's garden)
Onions, sliced - red onions add color; green onions have less bite
Cheese - the original recipe calls for feta, which works great. I've also sometimes used a blue cheese and been very happy with it.
Herbs - the original calls for mint, which is a great, fresh complement to the salad. I also like basil and even dill on occasion. With so many lovely herbs in Marilyn's garden, I used both mint and basil that night, and may have thrown in a few others for good measure.
Dressing - the Fines Herbs Vinaigrette I mentioned in the recipe for my chicken salad works great with this dish too. Or you could just drizzle with olive oil and vinegar, which is what I did this time.
I usually serve this salad on a bed of greens, although it is a satisfying entree with or without greens. Feel free to play around with whatever other ingredients appeal to you or that you have available too. Sometimes I add bell pepper. We had so much squash from Marilyn's garden that I sliced some raw for a little extra color this time around.
A couple of other notes. This is a salad that works just fine at room temp and is great for a buffet where it may be sitting out for a while. (It certainly worked well that way when I offered it as one of two mains for my father's 70th birthday surprise party several Junes ago.) If you're preparing ahead, you may want to wait to add the watermelon until serving time - the sweetness of the watermelon juice is a nice addition to the rest of the ingredients, but you don't want the salad to get waterlogged.
So after our fine day of outdoor exploration at Lake Tahoe, we had another fine al fresco dinner - salmon salad, that bread from Beyond Baked (which tasted every bit as good as it looked), and, of course, some wine.
Later that evening, I ensconced myself in my room to watch the premiere of Top Chef: Just Desserts. There came a knock at the door, and look what Marilyn had whipped up for dessert? What tasty - and fitting - little morsels to end the day.