Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Savory and Sweet Pineapple Salad

If a pineapple isn't ripe when you buy it, it can take several days to ripen to juicy deliciousness. Given fruit ripens on its own schedule and that I wanted to be certain I had perfectly ripened pineapple for a graduation party I catered over the weekend, I bought an abundance of pineapples!

I turned what pineapple I didn't use into this colorful and surprisingly fantastic tasting salad. Surprisingly tasty because I combined unusual ingredients ... savory Kalamata olives, tangy Valbresso Feta cheese, salty roasted cashew nuts and green onions with sweet roasted red peppers and perfectly ripe golden sweet pineapple chunks, then I tossed it with just a wee bit of my standard oil and vinegar dressing. Mr. Fabulous, (who was skeptical of the combination) deemed it one of the best savory and sweet combinations he'd ever tasted! We enjoyed it with ham sandwiches, a complementing combination and the perfect cool weather dinner on a hot summer evening.

The salad is simple to assemble, start with ripe pineapple chunks, top with chopped roasted red peppers, thinly sliced green onions, a few Kalamata olives, some crumbled Valbresso Feta cheese and roasted and salted cashews. Toss with a little of your favorite oil and vinegar dressing or prepare my tried and true, super simple, standard vinaigrette dressing recipe.

Helpful to know: A ripe pineapple should have a golden shell. Pineapples ripen from the bottom to the top. Often the bottom is golden and has a fragrant sweet smell and the top is still a little green, if this is the case, you will need the pineapple to ripen a bit longer on the kitchen counter. If the pineapple is ripe you should should be able to pull out some of the top center leaves fairly easily. Pineapples are available year round, but are at the peak of their growing season from March through June.

Kerry’s All-Purpose Vinaigrette

An all-purpose dressing that is so delicious and can be prepared so quickly, you might ask yourself why you ever bought bottled vinaigrette!

Helpful to know: Kerry’s All-Purpose Vinaigrette will keep for several days in the refrigerator. Allow to come to room temperature before serving; shake well just prior to using.

1 teaspoon salt
Several grindings fresh black pepper
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
¾ cup extra virgin olive oil

In a 2-cup capacity jar with a tight fitting lid, combine salt, pepper, mustard and apple cider vinegar. Shake until ingredients are well blended and salt has dissolved. Add olive oil and shake again to combine ingredients. Store at room temperature until ready to serve; shake well just prior to using. Refrigerate any unused portion. Yield: About 1 cup.