Recipe testing Salad Love by David Bez published by Random House Canada has been extremely challenging. The Chorizo, Green Olives & Whole-Wheat Pasta was good but the Roasted Potatoes & Sun-Dried Tomatoes Salad made me downright angry. It would all hinge on his Carrot, Orange, Dried Apricots & Pistachios salad. A raw salad with a cashew nut and lemon dressing. I had no idea if I was going to like it.
The salad consists of 2 small carrots, shredded with a julienne peeler. Which I did not own so I used a regular peeler. You will also need 1 chopped orange (assuming it is also peeled), handful of chopped dried apricots, a handful of pistachios (again, assuming they are shelled) and a sprinkle of lemon zest.
The dressing begins with blending 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil, 1 tsp lemon juice, a pinch of salt, 2 tsp cashews and 1 tsp water.
I was hoping my mini chopper would do the trick but nope!
It seemed ridiculous to mix this in a blender for such a small amount but that is what the recipe called for.
Then you also add another tbsp of olive oil, 1 tsp of lemon, pinch of salt and pepper into 2 tbsp of the nut and lemon dressing. Yes, it was confusing and required going back and forth in the book to where the dressings are listed and then back to the this particular recipe page in the cookbook.
But! The blender did bring it together.
This salad was quite delicious. Subtle but bright and light and quite tasty. I was worried the lemon would overpower the salad but it did not. It is a little on the sour side so you might want to add a drizzle of honey. Overall though, I was impressed.
His intention was to add more vegetables to his diet through the vehicle of salads and he did just that. You will find salads that include traditional ingredients like cucumbers and tomatoes all the way to green beans, red cabbage and sugar snap peas. His use of protein is also incredibly varied: crab, black lentils, roast beef, squid and sardines.
The hard part is finding the right balance of all the things YOU like so the salad appeals to you. Maybe you do not like blue cheese, quinoa, eggplant or quail eggs? The great thing is, you can vary the recipe if you want. As a recipe tester, I tried to stick with the recipe but still ended up omitting things here and there. Finding one that was perfect for me and my taste? Not easy!
I enjoyed two salads and hated one. For the most part, I feel the recipes are wildcards. Impossible to predict unless you make them. For the carrot salad recipe, buying a bag of pistachios cost me $10. That was just one ingredient for one recipe. I am quite sensitive to the issue of wasting food and money. Luckily for me this time the recipe was a success.
If you are an adventurous foodie with the money to go buy special ingredients or do not mind if a salad does not turn out, perhaps this book is for you. Please note that a lot of the recipes use grains, rice and lentils so there are economical choices, I am just not a huge fan of those particular ingredients.
Also note that there are absolutely minimal directions and instructions. You get a gorgeous photo of the salad and a list of the ingredients and as I mentioned, sometimes the author does not say how the ingredients should be prepared. As a result, newbie foodies might find this book thoroughly frustrating.
Taking everything into account, I give this book three and a half out of five wooden spoons. It is gorgeous, creative, a great size and full of ideas which would normally inspire me to give it a higher rating. But I can’t. I wish I trusted the recipes but I don’t. They are unpredictable and for me, that is too economically risky for my kitchen.
For those who can indulge and explore more, you are probably going to LOVE this book.