Thursday, September 27, 2012

Recipe: Arugula and Basil Salad with Berliner Weisse

So, salad and beer as a pairing? This post will not really be about the recipe itself but it is the pairing that makes this work. This is from the beer and food pairing that I did at the Only Cafe.

What is it? 
It's a freaking salad served with a beer! More importantly, it tastes good.

Why did you choose this?
We were looking for a second course. I was looking for a way to put a sour beer on the list. Also, I have messing around with some of the micro-*shudder*-greens from Cookstown. Although I don't like the name and hesitate to call it a micro-salad, I really like the intensity of the baby greens and sprouts.

Why this tasting?
I have only tasted about a handful of Berliner Weisse but have had plenty of sour beers. The flavour ranges anywhere from an almost SweeTart to a downright lemon puckery. Nickel Brook made a sour called Green Light Berliner Weisse. I suspect that the green light name came from the colour. It was somewhere in the middle of the two extremes. There was a soft lemon tart taste. There are some that would label this a fairly one note beer. We wanted a salad course.

The thing is, there is more to this beer. It is supposed to be refreshing and really quaffable at around 3-4% alcohol. The few comments were around how people had tried this beer and didn't really like it but I thought we could use the lemon in a good way and find a way to somehow neutralize it so that the wheat beer underneath could get a good taste. Most of those that thought the beer was meh before changed their opinion when trying the pairing. The two worked together to make each other taste better. Good sign.

So, spicy arugula and the aggressive peppery basil pair well with lemon. The salad was dressed lightly with salt and a buttery macadamia nut oil. The acid in the beer completed the vinaigrette and the carbonation on the beer lifted all the tastes. Ripe pear was added to provide a little sweetness and to add a classic pairing or arugula and pear.

So, what is the recipe?
Another salad recipe. The second in a week. Friends are going to start thinking that I have become vegetarian and the beer swilling, barbeque crowd will shun me or at least demand that I bring the salad. So, equal parts baby arugula greens (mild bitterness), basil seedlings (peppery and slightly sweet). Toss with macadamia nut oil or some other milder oil. Add salt to taste. Garnish with some pear slices.

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