My husband often chides me when I order salads at restaurants, simply stating that we can make them at home. He's right - we do often make salads. But what I love about ordering unusual salads is that they provide me with new inspirations for meals at home.
It was an unseasonably hot day in April when I stopped by 'Inoteca on the LES for lunch. Here was the scenario: sitting on the patio, enjoying the 90F/32C sunshine, and sipping an ice cold limonata (lemon soda).
So despite 'Inoteca's extensive cheese and charcuterie list, I opted for their new salad: Insalata primavera ($13). It introduced me to fregola, an Italian couscous-like pasta from Sardinia. The salad was also bright and fresh with mint, spring garlic vinaigrette, carrots, fennel, sugar snap peas, and beautifully delicate pink watermelon radish slices. The salad was like spring on a plate.
Inspired by that salad, I decided to make a similar dish with what I had available in the kitchen. I made some Israeli couscous and then shaved some fennel and some orange and white carrots. (You can use a mandoline, but I used a vegetable peeler instead). I drizzled grapeseed oil on top and for acid, added some pink grapefruit.
Wished I had some greens on hand (mint, sugar snap peas) to add more to the salad, but it was still light and spring-like. My husband enjoyed my creation - making my 'Inoteca salad an inexpensive cooking lesson!
Has a restaurant meal inspired you? What have you made after dining out?
'Inoteca is located at 98 Rivington Ave (at Ludlow St.) in NYC.