Make This At Home!

December 9, 2011

Once in a while my husband and I order something at a restaurant that makes me think – Hey, I could probably make this at home! I never achieve quite the same taste as the original, since I’m not that savvy at figuring out what’s in a dish just by tasting it, but I’ve made a few things that are quite good regardless. Recently we had an awesome shaved Brussel Sprout salad at Pizzeria da Lupo. Made with shaved, raw Brussel Sprouts, pecorino cheese, and toasted walnuts with a nice sweet and tangy dressing, it was outstanding. I decided I’d do something similar, so I bought a bunch of Brussel Sprouts, and jumped into making a salad, with no idea whatsoever if it would be an unmitigated catastrophe, or a wonderful success. After washing the sprouts, and taking off the outer leaves, for whatever reason, I decided to use the grater and do the whole thing by hand, rather than using a modern implement like a food processor. I do not recommend this method, unless you’re looking for a good arm workout. But, I did manage to get enough shaved Brussel Sprouts, then added some shaved carrots and shaved radishes. I topped it with some champagne vinaigrette (I use a great recipe from epicurious, but reduce the oil by about half). The resulting salad? Not exactly like the one at da Lupo, but quite good nonetheless. If you live in Boulder, I suggest just going to Pizzeria da Lupo, splitting the salad with someone else (it’s huge) and getting a pizza. They have great happy hour prices, so you won’t have to pay too much, the pizza is sublime, and you’ll save yourself some shredding labor. If you’re not around Boulder, I would recommend giving this a try, because it really is wonderful.

Brussel Sprout Salad

Brussel Sprout Salad

My next attempt at restaurant dish replication turned out to be a pretty amusing experience. My husband and I both love green papaya salads, and get them nearly every time we go out for Thai food. I did a little research on green papayas, and discovered that there are basically two main groups of papayas, one with yellow flesh, and one with redder flesh. Either one when picked unripe is considered a green papaya. Okay, that seemed doable, as long as I could find a green papaya. So while we were at Sunflower Market looking for some lean bison steak, I happened upon a pile of gigantic green papayas. So here is where a thinking person would have actually connected the ‘ripe papaya’ sticker with the fact that maybe that meant that the papaya was already ripe, despite its green appearance. But that was not the route I took. I picked up a huge green papaya, and headed home.

Papaya Salad Ingredients

Green Papaya Salad Ingredients

Well, when I peeled my nice green papaya, I discovered that it was indeed a fully ripe reddish-orange flesh papaya. Oops. But, recovering my thinking person status, I noticed that the outer layer was a bit lighter in color, and felt a bit firmer. So I cut a bit off, and it actually did taste pretty much like a green papaya. Bring out the grater again! I removed the seeds, cut it into manageable pieces, and then grated off the outer, firmer part of the papaya. I cut the riper flesh up and took it to work for lunch the rest of the week.

Papaya

Not So Green Papaya

Once I had my shredded papaya, I added some shredded carrot, shredded daikon, bell pepper, green onions, tomatoes, and a pepper that I thought would be hotish, but was really bland. So I just added a tad of cayenne pepper to the dressing. I used a recipe from Bon Appetite for Thai Green Papaya Salad to make the dressing. After a little tweaking of the dressing in terms of ratios of fish sauce to brown sugar to lime juice, I deemed it fairly good and tossed the salad with it. And to my delight, it was surprisingly like a green papaya salad! (Aside from the orange coloring, of course.)

Not So Green Papaya Salad

Not So Green Papaya Salad

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