After the calorie-laden Easter festivities, this piece of advertising from the wall of one of the huge warehouses along the Riverside Viaduct seems particularly appropriate. I want lighter fare – I want salad. I also want something that is really tasty.
Proust was transported back to his youth when he dipped a madeleine into a cup of linden tea. Raspberry vinaigrette has a similar effect on me. This yuppie nectar brings back the early 1990s like nothing else. At the time, I was skimping by on a tight budget, having just moved to my first apartment and trying to learn to cook traditional Finnish delicacies. It was a rocky start. Antti never tires of reminding me on my nontraditional take on silakkalaatikko – herrings, backbones intact, no salt added, swimming among semi-raw slices of potato in skim milk.
Pretty quickly I learned that the posher-than-thou back issues of the British House & Garden magazine were much less daunting learning material: soon I was eating quail eggs in birds nests of tagliatelle verde for lunch, Moroccan saffron-scented briouats with wild rice biriyani and carrot and orange flower water coulis for dinner, profiteroles with mango and praline cream for dessert, and mussels wrapped in balsamic vinegar infused lardons for snacks ;) No, I’m not making up those dishes: while in Helsinki, I recovered a full binder of food-stained H&G clippings straight from the era of power suits, shoulder pads, and opaque black tights. In fact, some of the less outrageous entrees still remain in my repertoire, although generally my taste in food has evolved toward considerably simpler fare.
Anyway, here is the dish that triggered all those memories.
Spinach Salad with Bacon, Asparagus and Raspberry Vinaigrette
Crisp fried bacon
Sliced red onion or chopped spring onions
A few spears of blanched asparagus
For the vinaigrette
100-150g frozen raspberries, thawed and drained of most of the liquid
1-1.5 tbsp of white balsamic vinegar, sherry vinegar, cider vinegar or raspberry vinegar
3 tbsp olive oil
(1-2 tbsp heavy cream)
1 teaspoon chopped chives or fresh basil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Combine raspberries, vinegar, and oil in a blender. (I don’t have one so I puree the raspberries in a coffee grinder – if you are fastidious, press the puree through a sieve to get rid of the raspberry seeds). Arrange the salad on a plate and drizzle with the vinaigrette.
Raspberry vinaigrette is good on many different salads. In this salad, you can easily skip the bacon and the cream. Another wonderful version of the spinach salad includes walnuts, a sliced Granny Smith apple, a sliced pear, and perhaps a few slivers of blue cheese.