Modern Plant-Based Salad Niçoise
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Credit: Chef Jeffrey Schlissel, executive chef, Locale Gastropub, West Palm Beach, and owner, Bacon Cartel
1 small to medium seedless watermelon
1/4 teaspoon furikake seasoning, for garnish, optional, plus more if needed
Mustard-Shallot Vinaigrette (recipe follows)
Savory Olive Dirt (recipe follows)
Purple fingering potatoes, poached, sliced in half lengthwise
Blistered tomatoes (recipe follows)
8 each haricot vert, blanched, cooled
2 plant-based eggs, halved (recipe follows)
Pea shoots, for garnish
Fleur de Sel, for garnish
4 shallots, minced
8 tablespoons white wine vinegar
8 heaping teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper
4 cups extra-virgin olive oil, more to taste
½ cup halved pitted black olives
½ cup halved pitted Niçoise olives
¼ cup hazelnut
1 tablespoon onion powder
½ teaspoon mustard powder
Plant-Based Egg "Yolks":
½ cup dried potato flakes
¼ cup chickpea flour
3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
2 tablespoons red palm oil
1 teaspoon fine kala namak (Indian black salt), plus more for garnish
½ cup hot water
Plant-Based Egg "Whites":
14 ounces silken tofu
1½ cups unsweetened soy milk
¾ cup water
1 teaspoon sea salt
1½ tablespoons mild-tasting oil, such as grapeseed oil
2 teaspoons agar powder
For the Mustard-Shallot Viaigrette:
1. In a container with a tight lid, preferably a glass jar, combine shallots, vinegar and mustard. Close tightly and shake well to mix. Add salt and pepper and shake again.
2. Add olive oil, 1/3 cup at a time, shaking very well after each addition, until smooth and emulsified (you may want to wrap a kitchen towel around the container, just in case).
3. Taste and add more olive oil, 1/4 cup at a time, if dressing is too tart.
4. Use immediately or refrigerate up to 3 weeks. The chilled olive oil will form a lump, so remove from refrigerator 30 minutes before using to allow it to liquefy. Shake well before serving to re-emulsify.
For the Savory Dirt:
1. Set a dehydrator set to high (about 155ºF). Place the black and Niçoise olives in a single layer on a sheet tray and dehydrate until crisp, about 5 hours or overnight. You can also dehydrate the olives on a wire rack in a 160ºF to 170ºF oven with convection for about 5 hours.
2. Dry roast the hazelnuts on a baking sheet in a 375ºF oven until lightly browned, shaking the pan once or twice, about 8 to 10 minutes. While still warm, rub off the skins in a paper towel.
3. Using a small food processor, spice grinder, or mortar and pestle, crush the dried olives to a fine meal to resemble the texture of dirt, shaking the processor as needed for even crushing. Transfer to a mixing bowl.
4. Add the roasted nuts to the processor, crush to a fine meal (the same texture as the olives), then transfer to the bowl with the olives. Mix in the onion and mustard powder. Dirt will keep for a few months in a sealed container in the fridge.
For the Blistered Tomatoes:
1. Place 2 pints grape tomatoes in a hotel pan or on a sheet tray coat.
2. Toss lightly with neutral oil and cook at 350°F for 20 minutes, or until skin has blistered.
For the Plant-Based Eggs:
1. For the yellow “yolks,” whisk the potato flakes, chickpea flour, nutritional yeast, palm oil, and kala namak in a mixing bowl. Slowly whisk in the hot water. Transfer the bowl to the fridge for a few minutes to firm up the mixture. Roll the mixture into oval balls about 1¼ inches in diameter with your hands. Chill the balls until ready to assemble the eggs.
2. For the whites, use a blender or food processor to blend the tofu, soy milk, water, and salt until smooth. Add the oil and blend slowly on the lowest setting. You want to avoid air bubbles in the whites. If it starts to bubble up, pour the mixture into a bowl, let it settle, then whisk in the oil by hand until blended.
3. Pour half of the white mixture into a small saucepan and heat over low heat. Add 1 teaspoon of the agar powder and heat for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring gently to avoid creating air bubbles. The mixture should thicken to the consistency of thin pancake batter. Try to keep it from boiling, which could cause it to break and look grainy. If it breaks, remove the pan from the heat and whisk the mixture back together once it thickens up a bit.
4. Pour the mixture into large, silicone egg molds, about the size of duck eggs, filling the bottom half of each. Chill until not quite firm, 10 minutes or so.
Meanwhile, repeat step 3 and cook the second batch of whites. Keep the white mixture warm in the pan.
5. For each mold, place a yellow ball a bit off center on top of a chilled bottom half of white, pressing gently. Put the lid on the mold and use a funnel to slowly pour in more warm white mixture. Tap the mold to ensure the white mixture fills the inside of the mold. Chill until firm, about 30 minutes.
6. Gently remove the eggs from the molds by pushing the molds up from the bottom. Refrigerate the eggs in airtight containers for up to 2 days. Before serving, slice and sprinkle each of the eggs with about ½ teaspoon kala namak, if desired.
1. Slice the watermelon into 4-inch-long by 3-inch-wide and 1-inch-thick pieces and place on a sheet tray. Briefly sear all sides of the watermelon pieces with a blowtorch. Toss watermelon with furikake to coat and place 1/4 of the slices on an angle on one side of one serving plate or plate.
2. Place small dollops of the shallot vinaigrette along the plate.
3. Place ¼ of the savory olive dirt around half of the plate.
4. Lean a slice of the poached fingerlings on each of the watermelon.
5. Place ¼ of of the blistered tomatoes and a 2 blanched haricot verts on the opposite side of the plate. Place 2 “egg” halves on either side of the plate.
6. Garnish with fleur de sel and pea shoots. Repeat with remaining 3 plates for 4 individual portions. Alternatively, decorate a large platter with all of the elements.
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