“The food production chain is really simple. We plant it, we grow it, we gather it, we cook it, and then we eat it. When this process occurs with a certain immediacy and a minimum of interference and, if it is nurtured by people who are truly passionate about what they are doing, the results can be glorious.” – John Ash.
John Ash is a chef, thinker and fantastic cook. I broke bread with him at the wonderful west-end Toronto restaurant Chiado a few years ago as a guest of my friend Bonnie Stern, foodie par excellence. We shared thoughts on food such as the ones quoted above while enjoying a delicious Portuguese tapas-style meal.
Ash is the author of several cookbooks, the founder of John Ash & Co. and culinary director of Fetzer Vineyards Wine and Food Center in the Napa Valley. He also publishes a newsletter from which I often try recipes, almost always with great results.
Here’s a beautiful, tasty salad of his I made recently to the joy of all who ate it.
Orange, Fennel and Olive Salad with Cranberry Vinaigrette
I managed to find frozen Canadian cranberries in keeping with my policy of using local ingredients whenever possible. I used mineola oranges which I love – from the U.S. Chopped parsley or coriander can also be used as garnish.
3 large oranges, peeled, sliced ¼-inch thick
1 large fennel bulb, sliced very thin vertically
1 small sweet red onion, peeled, sliced thinly in rings
2/3 cup oil-cured (not bottled) pitted black olives
Cranberry Vinaigrette (below)
Garnish: Fennel sprigs and fresh sprouts
Arrange oranges, fennel and onions on platter. Scatter olives on top; drizzle some of vinaigrette over – store leftovers in fridge. Garnish with fennel sprigs and sprouts.
½ cup fresh or frozen cranberries, thawed
¼ cup unsweetened orange juice
1 tbsp finely chopped shallots or green onion
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tsp honey or maple syrup
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
3 tbsp canola or olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Add first 6 ingredients to blender or small food processor; puree until smooth. Gradually add oil until of desired consistency. Strain through fine sieve. Add salt and pepper.