A Salad with Science: Melon Salad Agridolce
I unfortunately couldn't take pictures of the meal due to the working part, but the salad was so awesome I wanted to recreate it on my own, and here's my attempt and additions.
This beautiful jumble of greens, fruit, cheese and nuts - all of which on their own are good with wine, and together make a great starter or even main salad - is just such an awesome combination. What's really cool about the salad, though, is that it echoed some points she went over in the lecture.
- Salt inhibits bitterness. We do this demo in the lab with raddichio and kosher salt; simply take a bite of raddichio, rate the bitterness, then add a tiny bit of salt, taste and rate again. I like a small sprinkling of salt over my lettuce greens, in addition to the salty note you get from the cheese.
- Fat provides a good opportunity to smooth out tannins. In the lab, we demonstrate this using q-tips soaked in tannic acid, but you can note the dry mouth feel after a very tannic wine, or even the walnuts in the salad. Eating something fatty before or alongside, like the cheese, helps to prevent this a bit. And bread, not water, is your best bet for replenishing the lubricating proteins if you have a very tannic wine.
- A salad with a vinaigrette paired with a wine will make the wine taste vinegary. To avoid this, she recommended using a less harsh vinegar, like balsamic, or replacing the vinegar in the salad dressing with the wine you're drinking. This avoids any conflicts. I actually found the WishBone salad spritzer in the red wine vinaigrette did a good job of getting the light coating and flavor I wanted for an individual salad, but if I were making for a crowd I'd toss the greens with a red wine and olive oil dressing before plating with the fruit.
In case you're curious, the red wine served at the tasting was a Le Colombier Vieilles Vignes Vacqueyras Cabernet Sauvignon, and it was darned good with the salad.
MELON SALAD AGRIDOLCE
Inspired by Provence Catering, Philadelphia
salad for one
two to three large handfuls mesclun greens
red wine dressing or vinaigrette of your liking
pinch of salt and fresh grinding black pepper
1 ripe nectarine
1/5 small honeydew melon, preferably room temperature
1 tablespoon dried wild blueberries, or 2-3 Tbsp fresh blueberries
3-4 thin slices asiago cheese
6 or so toasted or lightly candied walnut halves, broken into pieces
Arrange the greens in a large bowl. Sprinkle with a little bit of salt and grind over some black pepper. Toss with just enough dressing to lightly coat.
Cube or thinly slice the nectarine and melon: the fruit can be arranged alongside or around the greens, or you can toss them together for a less formal but just as tasty rendition. Sprinkle over the blueberries and walnuts. Cheese may be arranged alongside in slices, or can also be shaved over the top of the salad.
**update: for other cool food, wine, and science stuff, check out the 3-part story by Mike Steinberger here, who actually apparently visited Monell and got to do a bunch of our taste-tests. Found through Serious Eats.