Winter Salads - Recipes reinforce L. A.'s cross-cultural approach to cuisine

KAREN GILLINGHAM, <i> Gillingham is a Los Angeles-based food writer and stylist</i>

Think America is the melting pot of the world? Then Los Angeles must be its salad bowl.

Latinos, Asians and Europeans, Easterners, Southerners and other Americans from every direction are tossed together into a show of colors that is reflected in the way we have learned to cook and eat.


And as comfortable as we have become with crossing cultures in the kitchen, we as easily amalgamate our seasons. Between our climate and the availability of produce from all over the world, we are as able to eat red-ripe strawberries, golden peaches, peppers and potatoes of unimaginable colors and crisp green salads in January as we are in June.

A few cross-cultural, multiseasonal salads in point are illustrated here. One mixes Japanese with French, in another Thai mingles with Mexican. A New York steak sandwich is turned into a salad with an Italian influence and Waldorf salad becomes well-traveled with the addition of smoked turkey, California-grown Asian pears and Roquefort cheese. Any of them would make a fine main dish for a simple holiday meal that will celebrate our complexion, climate and crossroads.



1 pound New York or sirloin steak, cut 3/4- to 1-inch thick

12 1/8- to 1/4-inch-thick diagonally cut baguette slices

Olive oil


Arugula or romaine leaves

Mustard Mayonnaise

Onion Marmalade

Coarse salt


Freshly ground pepper

1 small wedge Parmesan cheese, optional

Broil or grill steak to desired doneness. Cool, then wrap in plastic and chill.

Brush baguette slices with olive oil on both sides. Arrange in single layer on baking sheet. Toast in oven at 350 degrees 3 to 5 minutes per side or just until golden. Cool. (Can be made 1 day ahead and stored in paper bag.)

When ready to assemble salads, carve steak into slices about 1/4-inch thick. On each of 4 dinner plates, arrange few arugula leaves, steak slices, 3 baguette slices, about 2 tablespoons Mustard Mayonnaise (reserve remaining mayonnaise for another use) and 1/4 of Onion Marmalade. Season steak to taste with salt and pepper.

With vegetable peeler, shave off curls of Parmesan cheese and scatter over steak. To eat, spread some of Mustard Mayonnaise on baguette slice. Top with some of arugula, steak slices, cheese and onion marmalade. Makes 4 servings.

Mustard Mayonnaise

1 egg

1 teaspoon dry mustard powder

1 cup olive oil

1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar


In blender, combine egg, mustard and 1/4 cup oil. Process just to blend. With motor running, add remaining oil in slow, steady stream. Add lemon juice and season to taste with salt. Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

Onion Marmalade

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 1/2 cups minced onions

1/2 cup dry red wine

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon raisins

Salt, pepper

Heat olive oil in skillet. When oil is hot, add onions and saute until tender. Stir in wine, vinegar and sugar. Bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes, stirring frequently. Add raisins and simmer about 5 minutes longer or until most of liquid has evaporated. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cool.


3 cups shredded cooked chicken

1/2 cup chopped red onion

1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger

1 to 2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced

Mee Krob Dressing


6 ounces rice vermicelli (mai fun or sen mee)

8 cups shredded Romaine lettuce

4 cups bean sprouts

Lime wedges

Carrot curls

Black Bean Salsa

In bowl, combine chicken, red and green onions, cilantro, ginger and jalapeno. Add about 1/3 cup Mee Krob Dressing and toss thoroughly. Set aside. (Mixture can be made 1 day ahead and refrigerated.)

Pour oil in deep skillet or wok and heat to 375 degrees. Drop rice vermicelli, about 1 ounce at time, into hot oil and fry just until puffed but not browned, about 15 seconds. Drain on paper towels. Cool and store in airtight container until needed.

To serve, place fried noodles in large bowl and add about 1/2 of remaining dressing. Toss lightly to coat. Arrange noodles in nest shape on each of 4 dinner plates.

In same bowl, combine lettuce and bean sprouts. Add remaining dressing and toss to coat thoroughly. Arrange lettuce on top of noodle nests. Top with chicken mixture. Garnish with lime wedges and carrot curls. Serve with Black Bean Salsa, if desired. Makes 4 servings.

Mee Krob Dressing

Grated zest of 1 lime

3 tablespoons fish sauce (nam pla)

3 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar

2 tablespoons lime juice

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon brown sugar, packed

1/3 cup oil

In small bowl, combine lime zest, fish sauce, rice vinegar, lime juice, tomato paste, soy sauce and brown sugar. Whisk in oil. Makes about 1 cup.

Black Bean Salsa

1 cup cooked or canned black beans, drained

2 small tomatoes, seeded and chopped

1/2 cup sliced green onions

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

1 to 2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced

1 tablespoon unseasoned rice vinegar

Salt, pepper

In bowl, combine beans, tomatoes, green onions, cilantro, jalapeno peppers and rice vinegar. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Makes about 2 cups.

Note: Mai fun or sen mee and nam pla can be purchased in Thai or other Asian markets. Dried black beans are also available in Thai markets and are preferred over those sold in conventional markets.


6 tablespoons oil

6 large cloves garlic, flattened

3 tablespoons mixed pickling spice

1/4 cup white wine vinegar


1 pound pork tenderloin

4 small dumpling squash

Melted butter

8 cups finely shredded cabbage

1/4 cup pomegranate seeds


2 tablespoons chopped pumpkin seeds, optional

2 tablespoons chopped red onion

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in skillet. When oil is hot, add garlic and pickling spice and cook, stirring frequently, over medium heat until garlic is tender. Transfer mixture to blender and add vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Process until spices are ground fine. Spread about 2 tablespoons adobo mixture over tenderloin. Place on rack in shallow pan and roast at 400 degrees about 45 minutes or until done as desired.

Meanwhile, cut slice from both top and bottom of each squash. Discard slices. Remove seeds from squash and cut each 1 into 2 thick slices. Cut each slice in half. Arrange slices in single layer on non-stick baking sheet. Brush lightly with melted butter. Bake alongside tenderloin, turning once and brushing again with butter, until tender and lightly browned, about 20 minutes.

When ready to assemble, combine remaining adobo mixture with remaining 4 tablespoons oil in saucepan. Whisk over medium heat until just beginning to boil. Add cabbage and pomegranate seeds and stir briskly to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Divide mixture among 4 dinner plates. Carve tenderloin into slices about 1/2-inch thick. Arrange over cabbage along with squash slices. Sprinkle pumpkin seeds over squash and red onion over pork. Serve immediately. Makes 4 servings.


2 large Asian pears

1 pound smoked turkey, shredded or cut julienne

1/2 cup sliced celery

1/3 cup chopped, toasted walnuts

2/3 cup creme fraiche

1 tablespoon sage honey

1/2 cup crumbled Roquefort cheese

Salt, pepper

8 radicchio leaves

Corn Bread Madeleines, optional

Cranberry Sauce

Quarter and core 1 Asian pear. Cut into 1/2-inch dice. In large bowl, combine diced pear with turkey, celery, walnuts, creme fraiche and honey. Toss to combine thoroughly. Carefully fold in Roquefort. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and chill.

When ready to serve, space 2 radicchio leaves evenly around each of 4 dinner plates. Cut remaining Asian pear into thin wedges and arrange few wedges between radicchio leaves. Mound turkey salad in center. Sprinkle with Roquefort cheese. Serve with Corn Bread Madeleines and Cranberry Sauce on side. Makes 4 servings.

Corn Bread Madeleines

1/2 cup sifted flour

1/2 cup yellow cornmeal

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 egg

1/2 cup milk

3 tablespoons melted butter

2 tablespoons sage honey

Sift flour with cornmeal, baking powder and salt.

In small bowl, beat egg. Stir in milk, melted butter and honey. Make well in dry ingredients and pour in egg-milk mixture. Stir just until well blended. Pour batter into buttered and floured Madeleine pan, filling each shell about 3/4 full.

Bake at 425 degrees about 6 minutes. Invert pan over wire cooling rack and tap lightly to release Madeleines. Makes about 12.

Cranberry Sauce

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup water

1 cup cranberries

In small saucepan, combine sugar and water. Bring to boil over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Add cranberries and return to boil. Reduce heat and simmer about 10 minutes or until thick.


1 pound fresh tuna, cut into 4 pieces about 1-inch thick

Wasabi Vinaigrette

3 cups hot cooked medium-grain white rice

Boston lettuce leaves

4 ounces haricots vert, blanched and chilled

1 large sweet red pepper, cut into fine julienne

1 cucumber, cut lengthwise into paper-thin slices

12 Nicoise olives

Arrange tuna in single layer in shallow dish. Brush all over with about 3 tablespoons Wasabi Vinaigrette. Let stand at least 30 minutes or refrigerate up to several hours.

Grill or broil fish, about 4 minutes per side, or until not quite cooked through (fish will continue to cook off heat).

Meanwhile, combine hot rice with half of remaining vinaigrette. Toss lightly to combine.

Line each of 4 dinner plates with few lettuce leaves. Loosely pile rice on lettuce on 1 side of each plate. Toss haricots vert then pepper in some of remaining vinaigrette and arrange in groups alongside rice. Gather few cucumber slices into ruffled shape and place between beans and pepper on each plate. Place grilled tuna on top of rice and drizzle with any remaining dressing. Top each tuna piece with 3 olives. Serve immediately. Makes 4 servings.

Wasabi Vinaigrette

4 teaspoons Japanese horseradish powder

4 teaspoons hot water

6 tablespoons rice vinegar

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1/2 cup oil

1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley

Freshly ground pepper

In small bowl, combine horseradish powder and hot water. Blend to consistency of paste. Whisk in vinegar, soy sauce and oil. Stir in parsley. Season to taste with pepper. Makes about 1 cup.

Note : To cut cucumber paper-thin, with knife cut slice about 1/4-inch thick from 1 long side of cucumber. Place cut side down on work surface. Working from top and using firm even pressure, run vegetable peeler down length of cucumber. When cucumber becomes too seedy to get even slices, turn over and work from other side.

All Photos: VIKTOR BUDNIK. Produced by Robin Tucker / Food Styling by Karen Gillingham

TOP PHOTO: Tableware from the Elegant Table, Brentwood, and Tesoro, Los Angeles.

BOTTOM PHOTO: Tableware from Geary’s North, Beverly Hills, and Tesoro, Los Angeles.