Sunday, June 28, 2015

Strawberry Salad with Toasted Hazelnuts, Cucumber and Basil

This is a very short post, because today I do not feel like writing. Dr. V and Miss Pain have vacated the apartment for close to entire day; they are off to the museum, and then to the park, and perhaps another museum (fingers crossed), leaving our habitat completely, totally, entirely and absolutely to moi -- something that does not happen very often. As a matter of fact, it happens close-to-never in our intense little family. Hence, I intend to spend the day sitting in the sofa, staring at the ceiling and enjoying the echo of the silence in the empty apartment.

I will be meditating on the sound of silence.

Those who know will understand.

Later on, I will photograph my market finds (in silence) and conduct some cooking experiments (in silence). I will improve upon my Sake, Mirin and Pear Granita, which I intend to submit to Food52's Your Best Frozen Non-Diary Dessert contest. Later on, I will address the strawberry issue... Which brings me to the key point of this post...  I am terribly, intolerably, extremely upset with Dr. V. We went for a dinner to The Nomad last night (another rare event) and while I was busy slurping my slow poached egg with quinoa, asparagus and parmesan, Dr. V successfully demolished the entire strawberry salad without sharing a bite. (And to address your question, which I can see is hanging in the air, no, I did not share my egg either, but it is not the same, because Dr. V does not care about food the same way I do.)

Can you imagine going to a restaurant with your hubby and not getting an opportunity to sample his/her dish? Me neither. So let me ask you, how selfish, unkind and unchristian is it? As a result, last night, I left The Nomad in a profound misery over the fact that I did not get to taste their Strawberry Salad with Toasted Hazelnut, Cucumber and Basil, which appears to be the rave of the town. To make things even worse, I did not even get to see it -- I must have been a bit too consumed with my egg -- and now I am left with nothing. Not even an impression of the salad.

Hence, I have no other option left but to recreate the salad with my own bare hands.

I procured a pint or so of magnificent strawberries at the market yesterday and had an entirely different gameplan for using them, but in the wake of this gastronomic tragedy, the plan has changed. Which, in a way, is a good thing, because it is teaching me to accept the fact that life events do not always go as planned. As a matter of fact, they rarely do, and given how much I like operating according to a plan, there lies the root of my agonies.

I proceeded with the salad instead of the original plan. But the strawberries left terrible stains on my brand new Shun cypress chopping board and it now looks like a scene from a chain saw massacre. This too, in a way, is a good thing, because it is teaching me to accept the fact that things in life cannot be always perfect. As a matter of fact, they almost never are, which in turn further contributes to my agonies.

Thereby I am concluding that perhaps, life wanted me NOT to have The Nomad’s strawberry salad, so that I can let go of my anguishes and achieve an entirely new level of taking-it-easy.

Isn’t it amazing what a morning of meditation does for human spirit? It appears that I am an entirely new and improved human being. Or perhaps it was the silence in the apartment? We will never know.

As for how my salad compares to the original... We will never know that either.

Strawberry Salad with Toasted Hazelnuts, Cucumber and Basil  

* 1 1/2 cup fresh market strawberries (about 4 oz)
* 1/4 cup hazelnuts
* 2-3 small cucumbers (about 12-14 oz)
* 3-4 large basil leaves
* 1 tbsp good quality herbal olive oil
* a drizzle of high-quality aged balsamic vinegar (this is an opportunity to use the very best balsamic you have)

To toast the hazelnuts, preheat the oven to 350F. Spread the hazelnuts in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast for about 15 minutes. Stir occasionally to make sure that the hazelnuts toast evenly. Remove the hazelnuts from the oven when they are fragrant and golden, and allow them to cool at room temperature. Once the hazelnuts have cooled completely, rub them with your hands or between two kitchen towels to remove the skins. Cut the hazelnuts in half and set aside.

Peel the cucumbers. Cut the cucumbers crossswise into thin slices. Cut the strawberries crosswise into 1/4-inch thick slices. Mince the basil and mix with olive oil.

On a large plate, arrange the cucumbers in one layer. Top with strawberries. Drizzle with the olive oil. Add the hazelnuts. Drizzle with balsamic and serve.

Serves 4


  1. Interesting combination of ingredients - I've never tried to pair cucumbers and hazelnuts in one dish, although I use them daily... I'll have to give it a try...

    1. You are so right. I never thought of pairing them either, even strawberries and hazelnuts seem like a stretch to me. I guess it is good to try something new from time to time.

  2. Hooray to silence! At this very moment I am enjoying my (less than two hours but I am not complaining) silence while 6 year old is at his art class, creating his own magic . I don't really want to "disturb the silence" but that salad look fabulous!

    1. Silence is precious :) Thank you for stopping by...


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