This weekend I had a chance to attend a cooking demonstration at Macy’s Home Store in Mission Valley with chef Nancy Silverton, founder of La Brea Bakery and co-owner of Osteria Mozza, Pizzeria Mozza and MOzza2G0 in Los Angeles. I dined at Pizzeria Mozza two years ago with one of my dearest friends and we couldn’t get enough of the squash blossoms appetizer. It was one of the best things I had ever eaten. And my pizza was simply seasoned with truffle oil and sage – it was so rustic, yet so rich and full of flavor.
I was excited to attend a live cooking demonstration by chef Silverton, and she did not disappoint. She along with Chef Bernard Guillas from the Marine Room (who is a lively host and I highly recommend attending a live cooking demo with him too).
She featured a trio of salads featuring her lemon vinaigrette dressing. I learned so much just from this one demonstration. Salads seem so simple to make but it can take on a sophisticated flavor with the right ingredients and technique.
Salad Tips from Chef Silverton
- Season your greens with kosher salt – not ionized, granulated salt.
- Massage the dressing into the greens rather than tossing with tongs. Get the dressing into every crevice of your greens to ensure every bite is delicious.
- Layer flavors like fruit, nuts and croutons into your salad.
- Sometimes eating salad with your fingers can be fun.
And one more tip is to create a base dressing like this one…
- 1/4 cup shallots, minced
- 5 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
- 1 tbsp. champagne vinegar
- 1 tsp. kosher salt, plus more to taste
- 1/2 cup EVOO (extra-virgin olive oil)
- 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
Mix all in a bowl and set aside. While delicious on its own, here are a few more ways to build on this base dressing.
- 1 cup lemon vinaigrette (use above recipe)
- zest from 12 lemons
- 12 garlic cloves, grated
- 1/2 cup grated ricotta salata (ricotta without the moisture that looks similar to Parmesan)
Whisk to combine all ingredients in a bowl, except the ricotta. Then add the ricotta salata and add more salt and pepper to taste. This was my favorite dressing chef Silverton made. It was refreshing and delicious. It can be kept in the refrigerator for 3 days – just let it sit at room temperature and whisk before using on greens.
Kale Salad – aka Italian Caesar Salad
- 6-8 cups kale
- kosher salt to taste
- 1/4 cup kale dressing
- 1 tbsp. ricotta salata
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- 30 marinated anchovies (see below)
Place the kale into a bowl and season it with a pinch of kosher salt. Add dressing and massage into the kale. Layer salad in bowl, then grate ricotta salata to cover the kale. Chef Silverton did this in three layers, alternating kale, ricotta and pine nuts. Then she topped it with marinated anchovies. Makes about 6 salads.
- 30 marinated white anchovies
- 1/2 cup EVOO
- 1/4 tbsp. zested strips of 1/2 lemon
- 1 1/4 tbsp. fresh Italian parsley leaves, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp red pepper flakes
Take anchovies out of the brine and place them in a small bowl. Discard the brine. Add EVOO, lemon zest, parsley and red pepper flakes, then gently toss to combine the ingredients. Try not to tear anchovies.
Chef Silverton featured two other salads, including a Tricolore Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette
and a Sweet Gem Lettuce with Bufala Mozzarella, Cucumber and Yogurt.
They were all so delicious. And the best part was learning that chef Silverton will be opening up Mozza Restaurant in San Diego in the fall. Um, do they accept reservations already? Mozza Restaurant will be a bit of a fusion of Silverton’s Osteria Mozza and Pizzeria Mozza. I do hope they’ll have squash blossoms on the menu.
Here’s me, Chef Bernard and Don’t Mess with Mama guest contributor (and author of the blog Making It Sweet) Melissa Hiatt.
Chef Silverton is one of 14 chefs who are a part of Macy’s Culinary Council, including Michelle Bernstein – whom I also met a few months ago at the espnW Women + Sports Summit.
You can find more recipes from Silverton and all of the chefs of Macy’s Culinary Council, as well as attend a live cooking demonstration from the Council throughout the US.
I was compensated to attend the Macy’s Culinary Council event with chef Silverton. However, all opinions in this post are all my own.