This summer is becoming the season of salads, and this one comes from April’s Food and Wine. It’s from Jeremy Fox of Ubuntu which is a restaurant and yoga studio in Napa. The restaurant’s menu focuses on vegetable-inspired meals with daily-harvested and farm-fresh produce. I hope to visit it one of these days, but until then, I have the recipes from the magazine. For this salad, I feared the ingredients might require an extended search mission, and I was ready to make substitutions as needed. Just when I was willing to relent, I easily found both red quinoa and black radishes. Little shopping successes like that give me hope for future ingredient hunts. Once all the items had been gathered, the salad was very simple to assemble.
First, red radishes, black radishes, carrots, and fennel were thinly sliced on a Benriner. Then, the slices were transferred to a bowl of ice water which was refrigerated for an hour. That is what made this salad what it was. The vegetables became incredibly crisp with a lasting, transformed texture. The red quinoa was cooked in water, allowed to cool, and then combined with a simple vinaigrette of lemon juice, lemon zest, olive oil, salt, and pepper. The shaved vegetables topped the quinoa to finish the salad.
It’s so simple, it might even sound boring, but it was light, crunchy, and lemony. The vinaigrette mixed into the quinoa brought plenty of acidity and seasoning for the entire plate. The flavor of the fennel mingled its way among the other vegetables in a nice way, and the cold crispness of the slices were the textural opposite of the cooked quinoa. I hadn’t eaten black radishes before, but the flavor was very mild. The skin was thicker than that of the red radishes, and they seemed a little firmer when being cut. The visual appeal of the contrasting colors and shapes matched the experience of eating the different textures in the salad. Simply put, this was fun to eat, and chilling shaved vegetables is a technique I’ll definitely use again.