Back when I was learning how to cook in the 1980s, there was a formality taught to young chefs. Based in French cuisine, the constant mantra was that plates must be perfect – highly manicured. In hindsight, it’s a ridiculous notion, nothing in nature is “perfect.” I’m not suggesting we shouldn’t strive for perfection with the taste of our meals. For me, I’ve always been attracted to plating styles that mirror the beautiful chaos of what ingredients look like in their natural state.
I always build a little garden wherever I live. Even if it’s just a windowsill blooming with fresh herbs, there’s something relaxing and tactile about being around ingredients in their natural state. This dish is inspired by that theme. Ridiculously simple to prepare, the fun and magic lays in how you decide to plate the ingredients. Connect with your inner child, throw rules out the window and picture your clean white plate as a painting palette. Enjoy!
Charred Matcha Salad
The health benefits of matcha tea are undeniable, but it’s also a fun cooking ingredient – well-known in ice cream and other desserts, and now salad. Its gentle smoky flavour lends gorgeously to this light summer charred salad. This makes a perfect appetizer or light supper, double up your veggies for a main course.
• 2 tsp matcha tea, separate
• 2 tbsp mayo
• 2 tbsp Greek yogurt
• 1/2 tsp salt
• 2 tbsp creme fraiche (or sour cream)
• 4 green onions, chopped lengthwise and in half
• 6 asparagus stalks, sliced lengthwise
• 1 baby cucumber, ran lengthwise over a mandolin
• 2 tbsp green peas
• 1/2 cup microgreens (I used broccoli greens)
• 1/4 cup dill sprigs
» In a hot grill pan (regular fry pan works also) add a splash of olive oil. Gently sear off green onions and asparagus. Add a little salt and pepper while on the grill. Remove when grill marks appear. Be careful not to overcook them, you want a little crunch to remain. Remove and set aside.
» In a squeeze bottle (or Ziplock bag) add 1 teaspoon of matcha tea, mayo, Greek yogurt and salt. Shake well.
» Over two plates (or one if you prefer to serve family style) add small uneven-sized dabs of dressing (if you make your dressing in a Ziplock bag cut the corner and use as a piping bag). Add green onions, asparagus, rolled up cucumber, peas, microgreens and dill. Add small dabs of creme fraiche (or sour cream), sift the remaining teaspoon of matcha through a sieve (as you would icing sugar over a cake), add a few small drops of olive oil and pinch or two of finishing salt (kosher will do also).