Monday, April 27, 2009

Foraged Salad

This is a salad that I designed last week to pair with the lovely 2007 Viognier from White Hall Vineyards just outside of Charlottesville, VA. This wine is ripe and full with loads of tropical fruit, just about everything you'd want out of a Viognier (Condrieu eat you heart out!).

To work with the fruit in the wine, I knew that I wanted to use mango, but I also wanted to do it in an unusual way. Longtime customers know that I am a fan of framing a salad by placing it on top of a flat base, such as summer greens on grilled focaccia or my grilled fig, goat cheese and arugula salad on a base of prosciutto slices. In this case, I decided to make a gelée of the mango and use it as a runner down the salad plate.

The salad is foraged from my yard—purple and white violets, henbit, chickweed, pansy flowers, and maple blossoms—all dressed with a light lemon dressing (lemon juice and salad oil).

Mango Gelée

1 cup water
1/2 ounce gelatin
3 mangoes, peeled and chopped
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
sugar or honey, salt, and lime juice to taste
half sheet tray

Bloom the gelatin by pouring it over the cold water and letting it stand while you prep the mangoes.

Blend the mangoes to a purée. They should be ripe enough to purée on their own without any additional liquid; add water if you need liquid to make the blender work. Pass through a strainer. Add the vanilla and season to taste with sugar, salt, and lime juice, if the mangoes need more acid.

Gently heat the purée over a medium flame. When the mango starts to bubble, add the gelatin and turn off the heat. Mix well until the gelatin melts.

Place the Silpat in the bottom of the sheet tray. Pour the purée over the Silpat and tilt the tray so that the entire surface is covered in an even layer of mango. Refrigerate until solid.

Using a butter knife, slice the mango jelly into whatever shapes you desire. Peel them carefully away from the Silpat.