Maybe the watch-out-for-spring-wake-up-call earlier this week triggered my ravenous appetite for some sort of spring salad. One of the quickest, yet most scrumptious salads is one our friend Ulrike created for us on a recent dinner. The word “Vogerl” is mainly used in Austria (dialect), meaning “little bird”. Although I prefer to call it Vogerlsalat -it just sounds so much nicer-, this salad has lots more different (German) names like Rapunzel-, Nissel- or Feldsalat. The correct culinary term would be “field lettuce”; Admittedly I had to look it up in the dictionary. It’s definitely under the top 3 of my favorite leaf salads, because of its cute-looking little plantlets and especially its nutty taste.
Heat up a pan, put in a mixture of different seeds and nuts (the more, the better…). I usually go with a nut/seed-mixture from Alnatura, which contains pine nuts, sesame, sunflower and pumkin seed. Roast the mixture gently and toss it every now and then. The nuts/seeds will brown and begin to nicely perfume your kitchen. I leave them in at least until the pumpkin seeds start to do little jumps with a cracking sound. But be careful not to burn them, it just takes a ringing phone, a little distraction… When they are done, pour them out of the pan, so they can cool down a bit.
Wash the salad leaves (and take your salad spinner for a spin; it’s such a useful tool …) and the cherry tomatoes. I guess I haven’t bought regular sized tomatoes for ages, probably ever since I discovered cherry tomatoes quite a long time ago. Unless you live in the south of Italy with a good variety of ripe and tasty tomatoes at hand, chances are, cherry tomatoes will have a much more distinctive taste than any other regular sized ones. Cut the cherry tomatoes in halves or quarters.
For the dressing, I have a very basic, standard version, that goes well with almost any type of salad. Of course it can be spiced up with various additional ingredients, but not today… . I mix good olive oil (two thirds), balsamic vinegar (one third), salt, pepper (depending on your taste) and a pinch of sugar in a cup and blend it with one of those cheap cappuccino creamers. The emulsion gets all smooth and creamy.
Use a large bowl to combine the salad, the tomatoes, one half of the seeds/nuts and the dressing and arrange it on the plates nicely. Toss the other half of the seeds/nuts over the salad (those will stay more crisp).
Rip buffalo mozzarella (huge difference to regular mozzarella!) to bite-size and arrange on top of the salad. In addition, I also grate some bigger parmesan-stripes over it and sometimes add stripes of grilled pancetta (skipped it this time).
Lastly, drizzle fine aged balsamico over the salad and plate. The balsamico we got from “Di Gennaro”, an Italian specialty shop, a recommendation from our dear friends Stephanie and Dave. Its texture is comparable to deep-dark, sticky syrup, the taste however a well-balance composition of sweet and sour – not really cheap, but absolutely worth it.
Add some olive oil and fresh ground pepper. Maybe some bread, but not necessarily.
I think I’ll have it again this week… ;)
“Vogerl”- Salad with buffalo mozzarella
Recipe source: adaptation of Ulrike’s recipe
Required time: about 15 minutes
Ingredients (the quantity is really a matter of own taste,
so it’s totally up to you):
seeds and nuts (e.g. pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds,
sesame, pine nuts)
pancetta (Italian bacon)
dressing: olive oil, balsamic vinegar, pepper, salt
aged balsamic vinegar (final spice-up)