Let’s boot the misconception of salads as boring. Let’s make them fun, interesting and desirable. They aren’t just the go-to meal for when you want to lose 10 pounds by month’s end; they can be a smorgasbord of fascinating flavors and textures.
I try to offer my crew mates an interesting salad twice a day to keep the healthy options up. This recipe is the Optimus prime of salads. Served the way the recipe dictates, it’s a playful, fun rendition of a classic beet salad. Throw in a handful of washed arugula or spinach and it transforms into the more traditional style of salad: a healthier option, heartier starter or, when you add a grilled snapper filet, a main meal.
As yacht chefs, we need to be versatile. We are 100 different restaurants, bakeries and bistros in one, here to serve multiple palates at any given time of the day or night. My goal is to introduce new ways of incorporating flavor, different methods of incorporating those flavors, and offering one more multipurpose recipe for your arsenal.
This recipe feeds 10-12, depending on portion size.
For the infused watermelon:
1/2 large watermelon, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
1/3 cup pickled jalapeño brine (store bought, tame or hot)
1/2 cup tomato soup (preferably leftover; V8 or bloody Mary mix are great substitutes)
1/2 cup warm water (with 1 tbsp salt dissolved)
2 tbsp sweet chili
Place cut watermelon in a vacuum bag. (If you don’t have a vacuum machine, use a zip-top bag and get out as much air out as possible before sealing.)
Mix all remaining ingredients in a bowl. Carefully pour over the fruit.
Vacuum on moist setting. Refrigerate overnight.
For the roasted beet:
4 large red beets
4 large yellow beets
5 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp white pepper
Double wrap the beets individually with tin foil.
Place on baking tray and bake for three hours at 350 degrees F.
Remove from oven and let cool in foil. (This takes a couple of hours.)
Remove beets from foil. Under running water and using your hands, peel off skin.
Cut beets in 3/4” cubes, and place in separate containers (yellow in one and red in another).
Drizzle each container with equal amounts of olive oil, salt and pepper, and gently mix.
Reserve in fridge until needed to plate.
For the dressing:
1 tbsp dijon mustard
2 tbsp yuzu, an Asian citrus fruit. (If you can’t find one, substitute with 1 tbsp each lemon and lime)
1/2 cup balsamic glaze (store bought, found in vinegar isle)
2 oranges, zest only
Whisk vigorously the mustard and yuzu for 30 seconds to create a cream-like consistency.
Slowly pour in the balsamic glaze, whisking at a moderate pace to incorporate evenly.
Fold in the orange zest. Refrigerate until needed.
For the garnish:
1 bunch dill
1/2 cup good olive oil
1 garlic clove
Blend all ingredients on high for 1 minute.
Strain through sieve into a squeeze bottle. Reserve for plating.
Other salad ingredients:
1 1/2 cups feta, in 1/2-inch cubes. Goat’s milk feta tastes better.
1 red onion, sliced
1 bag plantain chips for garnish
3 tbsp toasted sesame oil
20 dill sprigs
On chilled plates (at least 30 minutes), sporadically place the yellow and red beets around the plate, followed by the marinated watermelon and feta. Place the red onion slices atop and around the other ingredients.
Using the ingredients already on the plate, place the plantain chips to stand every which way.
Drip a small amount of the balsamic glaze, followed by the sesame and dill oils.
Garnish with dill sprigs.
Serve and enjoy.
Mark Godbeer, a culinary-trained chef from South Africa, has been professionally cooking for more than 12 years, 10 of which have been on yachts (chefmarkgodbeer.com). Comments on this recipe are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org.