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11.12.10 by  

5 Global Bar Salads

Hand-crafted drinks deserve to be served alongside plates with just as much attention to detail. We’ve assembled a round-up of Happy Hour-worthy salads — sans the greens — that are just as innovative and flavorful as your signature cocktail.

When the drink menu is filled with fresh ingredients, handmade syrups and seasonal infusions, it doesn’t seem right to sip a bespoke cocktail alongside a slab of congealed delivery pizza. Below are some “salad” options that aren’t as labor intensive as typical dinner prep, but enticing enough to break out after 5. We love them for their global flavors and ability to hold their own next to your perfectly executed sazerac.

1. Jamie Oliver’s Sexy Salad. Lady Gaga’s meat dress has got nothing on JO’s meat salad. We love the focus on enticing, mouthwatering ingredients that pair perfectly with cocktail hour.

Sexy Salad a la Jamie Oliver

We love the ROI in time — this is probably the lowest maintenance recipe with the highest visual appeal you’re going to get.

  • 1 fig per person to start, criss-crossed not quite to their bottom
  • 1 slice of Parma ham or prosciutto per fig
  • Buffalo mozzarella, sliced
  • Green or purple basil, torn
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon good-quality honey
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  1. Squeeze the base of the fig so the center is exposed, which allows the dressing to soak into the insides.
  2. Weave around 1 slice of Parma ham or prosciutto per fig.
  3. Throw in some slices of buffalo mozzarella.
  4. Mix olive oil, lemon juice, honey, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper together in a bowl and drizzle everything with this dressing.

This salad is too hot to eat alone. We like ours with crusty sourdough and a Manhattan. Photo: David Loftus, www.jamieoliver.com

2. Buttermilk Farro Salad. Heidi Swanson knows that pasta disguised as salad is really the best compromise. Her version is hearty enough for cold-weather cocktailing but flexible enough to sub in healthier grains, like wheatberry, barley or quinoa. Might we suggest pairing this with a vieux carré made using our favorite grain: rye.

Buttermilk Farro Salad

Heidi Swanson fashioned this recipe after some inspiration from Clyde Common. We admit, we’ve been inspired many times at the bar seats at CC. Cheers to Portland and 101 Cookbooks for sharing.

  • 2 medium cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup good-quality white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped dill
  • 1/2 cup chopped chives
  • 1 tablespoon chopped thyme
  • 7 small radishes, sliced paper thin
  • 3 small zucchini, sliced paper thin
  • 1 medium head fennel, trimmed and sliced paper thin
  • 4 cups cooked farro, cooled to room temp
  • chopped chives for garnish
  1. Combine the garlic and salt on a cutting board. Mash into a paste using the flat side of your knife.
  2. Place in a medium bowl or jar, then add the buttermilk and vinegar. Whisk together and let sit for 5 minutes or so.
  3. Whisk in the olive oil, then the herbs.
  4. Toss the radishes, zucchini and fennel into a large bowl with the farro grains.
  5. Add 1 cup of the dressing and toss again. Let sit for 10 minutes, taste, and adjust with more dressing, if needed, and salt to taste. Serve sprinkled with chives. Serves 8.

Perfect for nights when there's a winter storm warning and an extra bottle of scotch just lying around. Photo: www.101cookbooks.com

3. Thai Cucumber and Shrimp Salad. Chez Pim gets the cocktailing brief. Salad bites should be heavy enough to balance the drinks (read: soak up the booze), light enough to keep you in your party pants and flavorful enough to be memorable.

Thai Cucumber and Shrimp Salad

Pim’s solution to your dilemma — how can I sex up a salad for Happy Hour.

  • 2 large cucumbers (about 2 cups)
  • 2/3 pounds shrimp, preferably shells on (optional, but remember to add more cucumber if you’re not using any protein at all)
  • 1/4 cup Vietnamese Perilla, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup cilantro leafs
  • 1 cup shallots, cut into thin slices
  • 1/4 cup coconut flakes (desiccated coconut)
  1. Add 1/2 cup of water and the shrimp to pot. Place the pot with the lid on over high heat, bring it to a boil. As soon as the water comes to a full boil, turn the heat off and let the steam finishes the cooking for a couple more minutes. Drain the water and let the shrimp rest until they are cool enough, then peel and de-vein them and set aside.
  2. Peel, seed, and cut the cucumbers into thin slices.
  3. Place a dry wok over low heat, add the coconut flakes and stir constantly until they are evenly brown. Set aside. Wipe the wok clean, add 1 1/2 cups of frying oil and place over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the shallot slices and fry, stirring occasionally, until brown and crisp. Be careful not to over cook them. Fish out the fried shallots from the pan onto a plate lined with paper towel and set aside.

For the dressing:

  • 1/4 cup fish sauce
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon palm sugar (white sugar will do just fine, but start with only 1/2 tablespoon)
  • 5 to 10 Thai bird-eye chili, chopped
  1. Nuke the palm sugar (in a bowl in the microwave) for 20 to 30 seconds just to melt it and make it easier to blend with the other ingredients. Then add the fish sauce, stir to blend.
  2. Add lime juice, then rice vinegar. Taste it to see if you need more acidity, if so, add more rice vinegar to taste. Add the chopped chili.
  3. Add the shrimp and cucumber slices to a salad bowl. Reserve a bit of the fried shallots, coconut, and the herbs for garnish. Dump the rest into the salad bowl.
  4. Pour in about 2/3 of the dressing, toss well. Taste it to see if you’d like a bit more dressing, then add more as needed. Sprinkle the reserved shallots, coconut, and herbs and serve.

The perfect beginning to a gin martini dinner. Photo: www.chezpim.com

4. Duck Noodle Salad. Fig and Cherry puts a Chinese take on cocktail bites with pre-roasted ducks and rice vermicelli. It’s far more interesting than just about anything with greens (absinthe, notwithstanding).

Duck Noodle Salad

Christie subs in turkey, pork or shrimp when she’s not in the mood to chef-handle a pre-roasted duck. Cheers to making life easy.

  • 1 tablespoon each soy sauce, fish sauce, rice wine vinegar, plum sauce, sesame oil
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons hot chili sauce, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 100 grams rice vermicelli
  • Half Chinese roast duck, meat removed from bones and shredded
  • Handful each mint, coriander (cilantro), snow peas (mangetout), finely sliced
  • 2 spring onions (scallions), finely sliced on the diagonal
  • 2 large handfuls bean sprouts
  • Fried shallots, to garnish
  1. Whisk together all the dressing ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
  2. Soak the rice vermicelli in boiled water for 2 minutes or until tender. Drain and rinse under cold water. Drain again and place in a large bowl.
  3. Add the remaining salad ingredients. Pour over the dressing and mix gently to combine.
  4. Divide between plates and serve garnished with the fried shallots.

Something this spicy needs a nice coolant. We're thinking Yuri Kato's Yuzu Julep. Photo: www.figandcherry.com

5. Salmon Salad with Parsley and Capers. This is an easy go-to from Martha Stewart so you know it does the job. We love the Greek flavor and extra time it gives us to properly hand-craft a drink.

Salmon Salad with Parsley and Capers

An easy go-to salad with Mediterranean appeal courtesy of Martha Stewart. We’re loving it with Joseph Cassidy’s Up Your Kilt … for Ladies.

  • 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons chopped capers
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 3 6-ounce fillets simple poached salmon
  • 1/2 cup parsley
  1. Combine first five ingredients in a bowl. Let stand 10 minutes. Add salmon and parsley.

Sure, you save your scotch for steak, but we like it mixed into a sexy new cocktail and served with this flavorful salmon salad. Photo: www.marthastewart.com