George and I belong to a gourmet group here in Corrales. The group consists of four couples who meet on a somewhat regular basis – once every couple of months depending on travel schedules – for dinner. We have four courses; appetizer, salad, entrée and dessert. Host duties rotate through the group. The host couple, who is responsible for the entrée, pick the cuisine and may or may not offer recipes. Responsibility for the remaining three courses are selected by the remaining couples on a fist come first served basis.
Last night our group met for a Basque themed meal. Our hostess let us select our own recipes based on the theme. I had the salad course. After some research I discovered that most Basque salads consist of chopped vegetables with an oil and lemon based dressing or a mayonnaise type dressing with a lot of garlic. The recipe I selected used the oil and lemon dressing and consisted of the following items:
- 6 ripe tomatoes, coarsely chopped
- 4 cucumbers, peeled, seeded and diced
- 2 green peppers, seeds and membranes removed then diced
- 1 red onion diced
- 1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted
- 2 hard-boiled eggs – whites diced and cooked yolk pushed through a sieve
- 1/2 c olive oil
- 3 tbl lemon juice
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
Seems pretty easy doesn’t it? Well it is but it’s not fast. I won’t count the time it took to boil the egg but the rest of the prep took 90 minutes! I’ve been told by a professional chef that I have good knife skills so I can dice pretty quickly. Still took me 90 minutes. I finished with just enough time to change clothes and do my hair and make-up before we had to leave to arrive at the appointed hour.
Since the salad had to be transported and wouldn’t be served until about 45 minutes after we arrived, I wanted to delay putting it all together until the very end. As the cucumber was seeded and the onion and green pepper have little to no moisture, I decided to toss those ingredients along with the oregano in a large bowl. I really didn’t want to add the tomato until the last minute so I put a layer of plastic wrap over the tossed ingredients, mounded the tomato on top of the plastic wrap and covered the bowl with another piece of plastic wrap to transport. The chopped egg white and sieved egg yolk went into their own separate containers and the dressing, having been made ahead of time, was transported in its own container. Just before serving I removed the plastic wrap from under the tomatoes, and tossed it all with the dressing.
I have to admit the completed salad, is served mounded on a platter and garnished with the egg whites, almonds and topped with the sieved egg, look really impressive and tasted great.
I’ll definitely make this again but I may start a bit sooner!