Green Tomato Salad With Satsuma Cane Syrup Vinaigrette

Caught you off guard, didn’t we?  You got up and checked your e-mail this morning thinking “it’s the Friday before New Years…Galley Pirates is going to have something rich, or boozy, or both…maybe a cocktail made with bacon fat!” (don’t laugh…we have those in New Orleans).  But instead you get…a SALAD?  With fruit AND vegetables?  And NO meat, cheese, butter, or fried anything?  Has Galley Pirates gone the way of the Ladies Wellness Checkout-Stand Magazine, pushing the New Years resolution inexcusably to BEFORE New Years? They of the “no Christmas decorations before Thanksgiving” are going to ask me to eat SALAD on the eve of New Year’s Eve’s Eve?  NOT EVEN A WINE PAIRING?

Truth be told, this is the last of our Christmas posts, as we served this as the light but adequately spicy accompaniment to our Satsuma Glazed Game Hens and Satsuma Creole Cream Cheese Pie.  So save this one for next week, or pair it with something rich, but do give it a try next time you see a green tomato and inexplicably don’t want to fry it.

Green Tomato Salad With Satsuma Cane Syrup Vinaigrette

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For Vinaigrette:
1/4 cup cane syrup (or light molasses)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons Satsuma or orange juice
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1 tablespoon Satsuma or orange zest
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried mustard

For Salad:
6 green tomatoes, sliced
2 Bermuda or other sweet onions, thinly-sliced
4 Satsumas or 2-3 oranges, peeled and sliced
1/4 cup sliced green onions
4-6 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup minced red bell or other sweet red peppers

This recipe also jumped onto our Christmas dinner menu because we were about to have the first of our maybe 2 or 3 freezes of the winter in southern Louisiana, so my final crop of heat-set tomatoes — all of which were completely green — had to come off the vine.  About half went into a delicious chili verde that I’ll post next year, but the biggest I saved for this salad.  Slice your tomatoes and onions thinly.  Slice your green onions and peel and mince the garlic.  Layer these vegetables in a bowl — best of all a Tupperware or other lidded container that can be shaken while the salad marinates — with the onions and garlic in the middle.  Come to think of  it, you could probably use a Ziploc bag for this, as I do for most of my marinating — makes it super easy to toss and turn to distribute the vinaigrette while it chills.

To  make the vinaigrette, combine all ingredients in a tighly-lidded jar and shake.  You can obviously do this a day or two ahead and let it just steep in the icebox.  It will only get better!  Cane syrup is a popular and easy to find product of our sugar cane fields down here in Louisiana.  If you can find it, particularly in a glass bottle (rather than can) which will last on your shelves for ages, it’s worth the investment.  The closest substitute is a light molasses or honey — they work fine in this recipe, but something southern is lost!

A few hours before you want to serve, pour the vinaigrette over the sliced vegetables, close them up, and shake to distribute.  Chill the salad in the icebox for 2-3 hours, turning or shaking occasionally to redistribute the vinaigrette.

Peel and slice your citrus thinly as well, though my Satsumas turned out to be so ripe and juicy that all but two seemed unlikely to survive slicing, so I sliced two and broke the others into segments.  To serve, layer the tomatoes, sweet onions, and citrus — preferably in a glass bowl or platter.  Sprinkle with the diced red pepper, and serve the remaining vinaigrette alongside.  Savor the fresh, tangy flavors and give yourself a pat on the back for having something so darned healthy.  Now serve yourself another oyster rocket feller with it’s lovely Béarnaise sauce, maybe a nice chunk of cheese on a cracker with some bacon jam, a Night Town Cocktail or a batter-based Tom & Jerry, and have a splendid New Year, pirate!  See you in 2018!

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