06 Jan2006

Three Salads

by Marketman

We have had a houseful of guests since the day after Christmas. salada1It has been non-stop cooking and eating ranging from our Top 10 Pinoy favorites to Asian dishes, Western roasts and at least a dozen different desserts from near and far. An attack of gout is almost certainly around the bend… so the past few days we have tried to eat just a little bit more healthily and we had three salads worth mentioning… First up, was a simple plate of cold white asparagus with extra virgin olive oil and shaved parmesan cheese. I woke up the other day to a text from Edwin of Fresh Fields at Market!Market! asking if I wanted any white asparagus that he had flown in from Bukidnon… and I said “YES, PLEASE!” and jumped into a pair of jeans and drove over in 18 minutes flat.

I took three bundles, and back at home, I cut off the tough ends and peeled the stems near the bottom to remove any tough skin. The key to good white asparagus is that it is refrigerated from the time it is harvested until the time you cook it. It is best harvested at the wee early morning hours and eaten on the same day. If you have purchased “woody” white asparagus locally, it’s a result of poor handling, not necessarily poor produce. At any rate, I dropped the prepped asparagus into boiling water until just tender (do not overcook) and removed them and plunged them into an ice bath to stop the cooking and keep their brightness (if you do this for green asparagus, they will retain their bright green color). salada2Next drain the asparagus and pat dry with paper towels and cool in the fridge. Add some good olive oil, parmesan shavings and salt and pepper and you have one of the easiest and most delicious starters/salads around. Another salad we made was a simple romaine (cos), thinly sliced jamon Serrano and pear mixture that we served with a champagne vinegar dressing. Just put some nice small inner leaves of romaine on a platter, arrange some thin slices of Jamon Serrano or Prosciutto di Parma or Speck and cut some good crisp pear (I used Chinese or Japanese pears) on top. Dress with a mustard vinaigrette using a champagne vinegar if you have it and dress lightly. The nice crisp romaine goes very well with the salty proscuitto and the sweet and juicy pear. Super easy and delicious!

Finally, if you want a salad that is also a complete meal, a composed salada3salade nicoise is always a good choice. Select some nice mixed greens, though I predominantly like romaine for crunch, then some cold boiled potatoes, tomatoes, green beans (the thin ones if you can get them), boiled egg, olives, artichokes, tuna, anchovies and you have veggie, protein and carb all in one dish. Dress with a nice mustard-y vinaigrette and this is perfect lunch food for me. I like to eat this with a crusty bread roll or slices of French bread and/or a bowl of tomato soup…



  1. Gigi says:

    I was blessed to attend a wedding in Hong Kong some years back and the reception was at the Peak Cafe — if I’m not mistaken, it was voted one of the best restos in HK (or the world) that year. In the buffet were these stunning white asparagus as big as cigars. Absolutely fantastic.

    I am a fan of Salad Nicoise – comforting and guiltlessly substantial. What a great salad trio you have had, MM.

    I’m so glad too that we now live at a time when we have a variety of greens to choose from and we can be freed from the “monotaste” monopoly of iceberg.

    Jan 6, 2006 | 3:56 pm


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  3. bianot says:

    So THAT’s what’s in a Salad Nicoise. Thanks for posting the recipe! Do you guys have any opinion on the Salad Nicoise that is served in Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf? I find myself there relatively often, and wonder if it’d be worth having it.

    Jan 6, 2006 | 4:43 pm

  4. Wilson Cariaga says:

    WOW. . .I didn’t know we have white asparagus here. . . last christmas it was hard for us to order white asparagus from out of the country. . . even artichoke hearts it was a headache because the artichokes are not in season, our chef wants it fresh. . .

    Jan 6, 2006 | 7:43 pm

  5. D-I-A-L-P-A-U-L says:

    Yeah, that is all funny and everything, but I have the real low-down on asparagus that the others just won’t tell you about. It goes like this: I was walking once in the deep south of France and a very old woman came out of a cave holding a long wooden stick and hollering something about her heart hurting her. I did not know how to react, so I asked her if she needed help, and WHACK, right on my head. I was in great pain when it started to rain, and become quite foggy. T he ground turned soft, then soggy, and slippery. Sliding I was, upon soft ground, noticing that I was moving quite fast through the village of caves and woman with large sticks. I had to stop, but there was something so innocent about sliding on mud, something so…so pure. About a good fifteen minutes later I wound up near a pond where giant frogs and turtles were dancing to Barry White while an older man, who looks something like Gargamel (sp?) was popping. I thought I was in heaven, yes I did. So I asked if I could participate in a battle, “un bataille?” he responded “bien sur.” So he whistled and a small goat, a billy goat came trotting in with
    a roll of linoleum on his back. It unrolled out, and the battle began. I started with a soft pop, that gradually sped itself up, and that I unleached a backspin and ended with a walking frieze. The old dude started popping also “biter,” then did the toyest windmills that I ever saw. I was victorious and I was offered some asparagus to eat. It was wrapped in bacon and steamed with steam from a coffee machine…so it smelled a bit busted…


    Jan 7, 2006 | 4:34 am

  6. ichabod says:

    mmmm. your salads sounds refreshing. it would be a great change from the carbo and cholesterol laden foods we’ve been having the past weeks.

    Jan 7, 2006 | 8:19 am

  7. chris says:

    Hi MM. Edwin sent me a sample too. They look great! Can’t wait to buy more to try different recipes. Apparently, according to my purchaser, the local grower covers his aparagus shoots individually with a tube to keep it from the sun and thus, from developing its green color(from chlorophyl)! Quite labor intensive huh? I know abroad they just cover the shoots in hay to keep sunlight out.

    Jan 7, 2006 | 4:26 pm

  8. edwin says:

    chef chris … i might have few boxes of white asparagus this monday. want some ? cheers

    Jan 7, 2006 | 7:19 pm

  9. chris says:

    Hi Edwin. Sure! I’ll have Tin go to your stall on Monday. Thanks!

    Jan 7, 2006 | 10:50 pm


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