The book is filled with fresh, seasonal recipes inspired by California cuisine, where Curtis currently lives with his wife and adorable sons. It’s pretty obvious that Californians know a thing or two about making a mean salad, and Curtis, despite his expat status, is no different. If salad is not usually your thing, Curtis has a few tricks up his sleeve that will surely change your mind.
Here are the five best things Curtis Stone taught us about salad:
1. There’s a better way to slice avocados
Halve an avocado, remove the stone, and slice the whole thing into wedges, skin and all. Then, just peel the skin right off the individual wedges. Voilà, perfectly unsmooshed and presentable avocado slices for your baja salad.
2. Yes, you can make your salads ahead of time
Just keep your salad in the fridge undressed and then toss with the dressing right before serving.
3. Quick pickled onions are just about the best thing ever
Thinly slice a red onion and cook the slices in a pot of boiling water for 1 minute until soft. Combine with 1/3 cup lime juice, 1/4 cup distilled white vinegar, and 1 teaspoon kosher salt in a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate for 20 minutes. Leftovers would be amazing on pulled pork sandwiches or a quesadilla (when you get sick of salads).
4. Put beer in your salad dressing
According to Curtis, rye ale is “sour and a bit funky, but in a really good way” and the acidity and deep flavor are perfect for vinaigrettes. He uses this ale vinaigrette for his frisée and apple salad with rye croûtes.
5. Make salads heartier with whole grains
Curtis’ weapon of choice in his roasted beet salad with goat cheese, fennel, and pecans is quinoa, but you can use any cooked grains you have on hand to add bulk to your salads.
All the recipes mentioned above are available in Curtis Stone’s Good Food, Good Life and the Baja salad and pickled red onions recipe can be found below, and in the April 2015 issue of Good Housekeeping.
Baja Salad (Serves 6)
Total time: 30 minutes, plus onion pickling cilantro dressing
• 1/4 cup packed fresh cilantro leaves
• 1 clove garlic
• 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
• 2 tablespoons liquid from pickled red onions (recipe below)
• 1/4 cup of olive oil
• 3 cups coarsely torn romaine lettuce heart (from 1 head)
• 1 1/2 cups very thinly sliced green cabbage
• 4 radishes, cut into matchstick-size strips
• 1 carrot, cut into matchstick-size strips
• 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved pickled red onions (recipe below)
• 2 small avocados, cut into large chunks (about 2 cups)
• 1/2 cups coarsely crumbled Cotija cheese or feta cheese
• 3 tablespoons toasted shelled pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
• About 1 1/2 cups tortilla chips, coarsely crumbled
Make Dressing: In a small food processor, process cilantro, garlic, lime juice, and pickled-onion liquid until garlic is minced and cilantro is finely chopped. With machine running, slowly pour in oil until dressing is well blended. Season with kosher salt. Dressing can be made up to one day ahead; cover and refrigerate.
Make Salad: Just before serving in large wide bowl or on platter, gently toss romaine, cabbage, radishes, carrot, and tomatoes with enough dressing to coat. Season with salt. Drain pickled onions and scatter over salad. Top with diced avocados, Cotija cheese, pumpkin seeds, and crumbled tortilla chips. Serve immediately.
About 235 cals, 6 g protein, 16 g carbs, 18 g fat (4 g sat), 6 g fiber, 340 mg sodium.
Pickled Red Onions
Total time: 20 minutes, plus chilling (15 minutes prep)
• 1/2 cup fresh lime juice
• 1/4 cup distilled white vinegar
• 10 ounces small red boiling onions (about 30), peeled and halved, or 1 red onion, thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
1. If using boiling onions: In a medium bowl, stir lime juice, vinegar, and 1 teaspoon of kosher salt together. Heat a medium saucepan of water to boiling on high. Add small onions; boil 1 minute, or until just softened. With slotted spoon, transfer to bowl with lime juice mixture. Cover and refrigerate, stirring occasionally, at least 40 minutes, or until cold. Makes 2 cups.
2. If using sliced onion: In a small bowl, combine sliced onion, lime juice, vinegar and 1 teaspoon of kosher salt. Cover; refrigerate at least 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Makes 3/4 cups.
3. Transfer to a jar; refrigerate (up to 2 weeks) until ready to use.