Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Book Ninety-Six: Salad Days

by Marcel Desaulniers

Sliced Beets with Curly Endive, Red Bliss Potato Salad, 
Honey Mustard Roasted Walnuts and Meaux Mustard Vinaigrette

If the name Marcel Desaulniers sounds familiar, you may know him from his renowned restaurant the Trellis, located in Williamsburg, VA, which he sold in 2009 upon retirement, or if like me, you may have five or six of his other books.

Mr. Desaulniers apparently was missing the crazy culinary world, and so he came out of retirement to open a chocolate cafe, MAD About Chocolate - if only it were here in California - close to my home; it is lucky New Yorkers and visitors of NY that get to visit what looks to be a fun place to meet up with friends for a sweet treat.

Back to the savory side of Mr. Desaulniers:

I didn't have to look any farther than the first salad recipe in the book. It had me at "sliced beets" - my husband L O V E S beets, as do I.

This salad consists of sliced beets, endive, potatoes, and honey mustard walnuts. I was not sure if this would be substantial enough for a meal in itself, so I opted to go with the Walnut-Crusted Striped Bass variation of this recipe.

Well it turned out that the salad alone would have been more than enough. The fish was delicious and I'm glad I made it and would make it again, but with just a simple green salad on the side; we felt this was too much for us. The recipe states this will serve four and I cut the recipe in half, still it was enough for at least three people.

Success meter (1-3): 3

The recipe calls for you to boil the beets. I prefer to roast them. I have never understood why you are to add oil, salt, and pepper to the beets before roasting, so I did an internet search on this. I could not find any reference to this at all! Why I have done this (for several years) I have no idea. No longer!

 Walnuts tossed in melted butter, honey, and mustard, ready for roasting.

 Mustard vinaigrette for the potato salad and endive.

This component was my favorite part. The potato salad would be great for a potluck or picnic - no mayo!

 Not a good idea to use parchment when broiling - oops.

 Next time, I would use softer greens. I did not really care for the roughness of the endive - also I would dress the greens before placing them on the plate.

 Walnut-Crusted Striped Bass Variation

For a prettier presentation (you don't see the other side!) I would divide the fish in individual portion sizes and then cover with the topping and bake. The walnut topping on the fish added a really nice crunch and almost citrus(y), spicy flavor, and smelled amazing while baking. Surprisingly no burnt taste at all!

Don't let the length of this recipe scare you off. It is not as daunting as it looks.

Sliced Beets with Curly Endive, Red Bliss
Potato Salad, Honey Mustard Roasted
Walnuts, and Meaux Mustard Vinaigrette
Serves 4 (or more!)

Meaux Mustard Vinaigrette:

2 Tbl. red wine vinegar
2 Tbl. Moutarde de Meaux Pommery mustard or another
            high quality seeded mustard
¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
½ cup safflower oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Red Bliss Potato Salad:

3 lbs. red bliss potatoes, washed but not peeled
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 medium red onion (about 6 ounces), peeled and thinly sliced
2 Tbl. fresh chopped parsley
Meaux Mustard Vinaigrette

Honey Mustard Roasted Walnuts:

1 Tbl. unsalted butter
1 Tbl. honey
1 Tbl. Moutarde de Meaux Pommery mustard or another
            high quality seeded mustard
1 cup walnuts
salt to taste

Salad Greens and Beets:

5 to 6 small beets (about 1 pound), stems trimmed to ¼ inch
¾ lb. curly endive, cored, trimmed, cut into ¾-inch pieces, washed and dried

Walnut-Crusted Striped Bass (Variation – if using):

½ cup finely chopped walnuts
2 Tbl. Moutarde de Meaux Pommery mustard or another
            high quality seeded mustard
2 Tbl. chopped fresh parsley
1 Tbl. extra-virgin olive oil
4 6-ounce skinless striped bass (rockfish) fillets
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Make the Meaux Mustard Vinaigrette

In a 3-quart stainless steel bowl, whisk together the red wine vinegar and mustard until combined. Add the olive oil in a slow, steady stream while whisking until incorporated, followed by the safflower oil, still whisking until combined. Add salt and pepper, and whisk to combine. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and set aside at room temperature until needed.

Prepare the Red Bliss Potato Salad

Place the potatoes in a 6-quart saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, then adjust the heat to simmer slowly until the potatoes are cooked through, about 20 to 22 minutes. Drain the hot water from the potatoes, then cool them in the saucepan under running cold water. Thoroughly drain the potatoes in a colander. Cut the potatoes into 1-inch cubes and transfer to a 7–quart stainless steel bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Add the onion and parsley and toss to combine. Vigorously whisk the mustard vinaigrette, then add ¾ cup to the potatoes. (Cover the remaining ¾ cup with plastic wrap and set aside at room temperature until needed.) Use a rubber spatula to combine the ingredients until the potatoes and onions are coated with the vinaigrette. Set aside at room temperature, loosely covered with plastic wrap, for up to 2 hours before serving. Or cool to room temperature and then refrigerate in a covered, noncorrosive container for up to 2 days before serving.

Make the Honey Mustard Roasted Walnuts

Preheat the oven to 325°F.

Heat the butter in a small nonstick sauté pan over medium heat. When the butter is melted and hot, remove from the heat, add the honey and mustard, and whisk to combine. Add the walnuts to the hot honey mustard mixture. Use a rubber spatula to combine until the walnuts are evenly coated with the mixture. Transfer the walnuts to a nonstick baking sheet. Use a rubber spatula to separate and spread the nuts. Place the baking sheet in the preheated oven for 12 minutes. Remove from the oven and season with salt. Cool the walnuts to room temperature. Keep at room temperature in a tightly sealed plastic container until needed.

Finish and Assemble the Salad

Heat 2 quarts of lightly salted water in a 3-quart saucepan over medium-high heat.
When the water boils, add the beets and cook for 20 minutes. The texture of the cooked beets should be very firm. Transfer the cooked beets to ice water to cool.

Peel and slice the beets about 1/8 inch thick. (This can be done by hand with a sharp cook’s knife or use a mandoline.)

Arrange enough beet slices to from a ring around the outside edge of 4 room-temperature 10- to 12-inch plates; the slices should slightly overlap each other. Place an equal amount of curly endive pieces in the center of each plate, being careful not to cover the beets. Vigorously whisk the vinaigrette. Sprinkle each portion of curly endive pieces with 3 tablespoons of vinaigrette. Spoon an equal amount of red bliss potato salad on the greens on each plate. Top each salad with some of the roasted walnuts. Serve Immediately.

For the Walnut-Crusted Striped Bass Variation

Preheat the oven to broil.

In a 1-quart stainless steel bowl, use a rubber spatula to combine the walnuts, mustard, parsley, and olive oil.

Place the fish fillets on a nonstick baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon 2 level tablespoons of the walnut mixture on each fillet and use your fingers to spread and coat each fillet with the mixture. Place the baking sheet in the preheated oven and broil the fish for 5 minutes, until golden brown. Lower the oven temperature to 300°F and coo, the fillets for 5 more minutes. Remove the fillets from the oven. Place a striped bass fillet on each salad. Serve immediately.

Salad Days/Marcel Desaulniers


  1. Cathleen, that must be one delicious and healthy salad - I love all the different components, they all sound fabulous on their own but they must taste so wonderful when put together (in such a very pretty fashion) on that wonderul big plate of yours!

  2. I love that salad! I am tempted to buy that book outright. What lettuce do you think would be best to use? I really want to try this recipe this week. Thanks for posting!

    1. Marlise, I am a big fan of arugula and I think it would go well with this salad. If you are not a fan of bitter greens, I'm sure spring mix would be just as tasty. Do dress your greens first before placing on the plate for spooning it on after just does not get enough on - at least for me anyway. I enjoyed this salad a lot. Please let me know how you liked it!

  3. Thanks Cathleen. I am going to try to make it this week. I am most excited about making the red onion potato salad.

    1. That was my favorite part of the salad! It would be great on its own as well.


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