Friday, 27 February 2009

TGRWT #15 - Spinach and Aubergine Salad with Dark Chocolate and Smoked Salmon Dressing

As always several strands of ideas, inspirations and events converged to form my dish for this month's TGRWT: The pairing, Dark Chocolate and Smoked Salmon, brought the flavour. Jacob at Free Culinary School's "homework" (construct a salad and accompanying dressing) brought the form and a pending romantic dinner, for which I had next to no time to prepare, the setting.
The result was a light, quick and very interesting dish that I am sure I will use again and again: Spinach and Aubergine salad with Dark Chocolate and Smoked Salmon dressing.

Here's the recipe(I haven't added amounts and will leave it up to your tastebuds):
  • Groundnut (or other fairly neutral) Oil
  • Red wine vinegar (white would probably do)
  • Smoked Salmon
  • Chocolate Extract
  • Melted Dark Chocolate
  • Chilli Powder
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Lemon Juice

Mix the oil and vinegar in your favourite ratio. Then add melted chocolate – cool it down with some of your oil to stop it cooking the salmon and keep it it liquid. Chop up the salmon really small (so it doesn't get stuck in the top of your squeezy bottle). Add a splash of chocolate extract. Have a look here for some interesting stuff on chocolate extract - I found mine in Waitrose if you're looking for some.

Add a touch of chilli powder, enough that the dressing nips the back of your tongue for only a moment. Add salt, pepper and a bit of lemon juice to taste.

Shake up, done.


  • Baby Spinach leaves - thickly shredded
  • Thinly shredded endive/chickory
  • Thin batons of aubergine
  • Melted Chocolate
  • Chopped Smoked salmon
  • Groundnut oil
Take half the aubergine and marinade in a mix of chocolate and oil. Marinade the other half in a mix of smoked salmon and oil. Just before serving, quickly fry in their respective marinades and sprinkle into salad of mostly spinach, with a little endive to add bitterness. The salmon aubergine can be cooked for longer than the chocolate (which will burn pretty fast) and the longer you do the more chewy the little bits of salmon that will jump out at you from the salad occasionally - chewy is good.

I served this salad with some lightly squashed new potatoes and grilled salmon. This is a cracking combination and the salad surprises you all the way through eating, as refreshing spinach crunch turns into a nip of chilli which falls away to intriguing tasty chocolate and creamy smoked salmon. The bursts of aubergine are a delight and and leaves you wanting eat it all over. It's a light meal, so you might even manage another one. Highly recommended.

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