I know, I know. You read the word “salad” and you’re instantly wary, likely envisioning endless bowls of deep green leaves or raw vegetables smothered in bland balsamic vinaigrette, and you’re not particularly interested in reading any farther. Fortunately, this salad is anything but bland. In fact, it’s more like a complete meal that just happens to include some lettuce leaves – the overall flavour is rich and satisfying.
This salad gets a kick of deep, porky flavour from the crispy pieces of guanciale – cured, unsmoked pork jowl that’s well-known in Italy but still relatively unheard of here. Your local grocery store probably won’t sell it (in fact, they probably won’t have a clue what you’re asking for), but you might have better luck at an artisan butcher shop or a specialty Italian imports store. And if you still can’t find any, don’t panic. While the guanciale does give the salad its own unique flavour (richer than bacon and packed with explosive savoury flavours but without the overpowering smokey tones), you can swap in bacon or pancetta and still end up with a delicious final result. And the richness from the fish (which has a nice buttery texture) and the guanciale is balanced nicely by the bright flavours of the roasted beets and the bite of the raw radishes, while the dijon mustard also packs a punch of its own. Give this salad a try – I think you’re going to like it.
(Makes about 4 servings)
- 4 small Steelhead trout fillets
- 2 small yukon gold potatoes (or other starchy potatoes, like russets), sliced very thinly
- 3 beets
- 3 – 5 radishes (depending on size), thinly sliced
- 150 grams of guanciale, sliced into small cubes
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 shallot, minced
- 2.5 cups mixed salad greens
- 1/4 cup dill, chopped
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons dijon mustard
- Olive oil
- Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Remove the stems and leaves from the beets, wash thoroughly, then roast until softened, about 45 minutes. Let the roasted beets sit for about 10 minutes, then remove the skins (they should easily slide off) and slice into bite-sized wedges.
- Lay the potato slices out on a baking sheet – they should not be overlapping. Brush thoroughly with olive oil, then sprinkle with salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Roast for about 10 minutes, then flip each slice over and roast for another 10 – 15 minutes or until the edges are beginning to turn brown and crispy (this will depend on how thinly you’ve sliced the potatoes – you want to aim for slices about 2 millimetres thick).
- Heat a pan over medium heat. Sauté the shallot until translucent, then add the garlic and continue to sauté for another 1 – 2 minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside. Now add the guanciale to the pan and sauté until crispy, then set aside.
- In a small bowl, stir the the mayonnaise and the mustard until well mixed.
- Place the steelhead fillets on a baking sheet. Brush lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper, then bake until no longer translucent, about 10 – 12 minutes.
- In a bowl, combine the salad greens, shallot, garlic, guanciale, radishes, beets and dill. Drizzle lightly with olive oil (or, if you’re feeling adventurous, a little bit of the fat that’s rendered off of the guanciale – it’ll add extra depth of flavour to the salad) then toss to combine. Add a handful of the salad to each plate, then add several potato slices and top with a steelhead fillet. Add a spoonful of the dijon mayonnaise on top, then serve.