Filed under: Dairy-free, Gourmet, Unbound, Salad, Vegetarian, Wheat-free
We try to get our friends out for a dinner party before the holidays every year. We always have to schedule a ways in advance – in part because we live so far outside of the city (and they all live in the city) so coming out to our house is a bit of an undertaking, and in part because everyones’ lives are just so busy. After a few failed scheduling attempts, we landed on the Saturday before Christmas, with the understanding that I’d make something from Gourmet, but without much more of a plan. As the day approached, I was having a hard time nailing down a menu. Nothing was inspiring me, and I was tempted to scratch the Gourmet plan and stick with something tried and true. But I was determined, so the day before the party I managed to finalize the menu. Feijoada – a Brazilian dish of black beans and assorted meats – would be the main dish, accompanied by salad and rice, with flan for dessert.
I first heard about feijoada about a month ago on a podcast of The Splendid Table and it seems like every few days since then I’ve read or heard something about feijoada. Every recipe I looked at was different, but it seemed like the recipe in the big yellow Gourmet cookbook would do just fine. I’m not one for following recipes exactly, so it was a given that I’d adapt it. Rather than cooking rice and kale with the meat and beans – as the recipe suggested – I axed the kale (because I couldn’t find any and I hadn’t planned far enough in advance to allow for any missing ingredients) and opted to cook the rice separately. Plain rice seemed too boring, so I went with Rice and Green Chile Pilaf (a Gourmet recipe from January 1995). But this post isn’t really about the feijoada, or the rice, or even the Coffee Flan (Gourmet, February 2006) I made for dessert. The standout of the night was the salad: Mango Jícama Chopped Salad.
The salad was a combination of crunchy, soft, sweet, salty, sour, and overall deliciousness: mangoes, jícama, cucumbers, pepitas, cabbage and lettuce in a relatively light vinaigrette. Jícama isn’t something I normally buy, but it worked so well with the mango and the cucumber. I opted for a higher ratio of “stuff” to lettuce and cabbage than the recipe called for, added some cilantro, and tweaked the dressing a little, but none of the changes altered the salad significantly. The variety of textures made this a really interesting alternative to a normal green salad, and the flavors all worked really well together, though I think the dressing could use…something more, maybe a little fish sauce or anchovy paste.
I made the salad again a few days ago when we had some of my family over for a tamale-making party and failed to look in the fridge before I started it. No lettuce or cabbage to be found, but it was still delicious in its stripped back form. This is definitely a salad that will be making an appearance again, and I’ll probably continue tweaking the dressing every time I make it until I find the perfect balance. It would make a great simple dinner, perhaps paired with quesadillas. And I think it would work well as a couscous or grain salad, omitting the lettuce. The possibilities are endless!
Mango Jícama Chopped Salad
adapted from Gourmet, January 2000
- 1/4 cup fresh lime juice (about two limes)
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 tablespoon Sherry vinegar
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 small shallot, minced
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 jícama, peeled and chopped (mine was about the size of a softball)
- 2 mangoes, pitted, peeled, and chopped
- 1 cucumber, seeded and diced
- 1 small head Napa cabbage, sliced crosswise
- 1 bunch of cilantro, leaves removed from stems
- 1/2 small head romaine, sliced crosswise
- 1 cup toasted pepitas
To make the dressing, whisk together the lime juice, honey, vinegar, mustard, and shallot in a large serving bowl. Add the oil slowly, whisking until emulsified. Season to taste. Toss the jícama, mangoes, cucumber, cabbage, romaine, cilantro, and pepitas with the dressing just before serving.
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