I know the name Ruby Watchco keeps popping up in this blog – and it’s for good reason.
The meal Ross and I enjoyed there one Saturday night a couple of months ago was simply stellar, “simply” being the operative word. The uncomplicated, vibrant flavour and texture combos of each and every dish from the sensational salad with still warm buttermilk biscuits to a wondrous baked apple bathed in silky sabayon were all that good food should be.
It was the salad which was visibly being tossed to order by co-owner Lynn Crawford and brilliant co-chef Lora Kirk as they stood together at the kitchen pass that left a lasting impression. And I’ve been creating versions of it ever since.
The main secret: Use lots of different ingredients. Next, make those ingredients vary in looks and taste. Mix shredded leaf lettuce with slightly bitter greens like radicchio, endive and/or arugula. Add little juicy chunks of organic, locally grown tomatoes (I like the grape ones I buy at Fiesta Farms or bigger ones from my favourite organic produce store at the corner of Augusta and Nassau in Kensington Market) along with slivers of cucumber and orange, yellow and red bell pepper.
And here are my must-use final touches: sweet, sour and and crunchy pomegranate seeds along with pumpkin or sunflower seeds that I toast just before scattering on the finished salad.
The dressing on Ruby Watcho’s salad has a slightly sweet note – something I’ve been able to duplicate by adding by adding a little unsweetened orange juice, a few drops of rice vinegar and a smidge of maple syrup to my usual dijon-laced vinaigrette.
My last salad-making discovery – and maybe the key secret – is lots of chopped fresh mint. It adds fragrance and livens up everything. I often combine it with fresh coriander, another fresh herb I cannot live without.
My current mission is freezing pomegranate seeds so I can use them at times when fresh pomegranates are not available – most of the year except for the mid-winter months of December and January. It’s a messy and time-consuming operation extricating them but well worth the effort. Just freeze in a single layer on a cookie sheet, then return to the freezer in small containers until required.
And by the way, we checked – there are about 613 seeds in every pomegranate. I know – I must have too much time on my hands.
As usual, you’re welcome and happy cooking!