Spa Salad and Eggplant with Chocolate

Nielsen Massey photo of Spa SaladToday’s In The Kitchen column is about using vanilla in savory dishes.  Here are two extra recipe that I didn’t have room to include there, and many more are to be found on the Nielsen-Massey website link below.

Spa Salad and Almond Vinaigrette

10 ounces baby spinach leaves, torn into bite-size pieces
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1 cup strawberries, thinly sliced
1/2 cup sliced almonds
Almond Vinaigrette (below)
Strawberries and almonds for garnish

Toss the spinach, onion, strawberries and almonds gently in a large bowl. Pour the vinaigrette over the salad and toss to combine. Garnish with additional strawberries and almonds.

Serves 2

Almond Vinaigrette

Makes 3/4 cup, more than enough for the salad above.

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract
1/4 teaspoon Nielsen-Massey Pure Almond Extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 cup canola oil
1/4 cup natural rice vinegar

Whisk the Dijon mustard, syrup, vanilla extract, almond extract, salt and pepper in a bowl. Add the canola oil in a fine stream, whisking constantly until incorporated. This will emulsify your salad dressing and it will not separate. Add the vinegar slowly, whisking constantly.

Note: Emulsified liquids are generally unmixable and whisking them together gradually will force them to combine.

Melanzane al Cioccolato – Eggplant with Chocolate
Adapted from
Serves 4-6

Chocolate Cream:
3 eggs, separated
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup sugar
3 heaping tablespoons flour
2 1/2 cups milk
3 heaping tablespoons cocoa powder

Chocolate Fondant:
7 ounces solid dark chocolate
2 tablespoons butter
Splash of Amaretto di Saronno

4-5 small eggplants, or two medium
Peanut or vegetable oil, for frying
3 heaping tablespoons hazelnuts, chopped
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
1/4 cup crushed Amaretti cookies
3/4 cup whipping cream, sweetened
1/4 cup candied lemon & orange peels

In a saucepan, add the egg yolks, vanilla sugar, and flour, whisk lightly, then add milk.  Add the cocoa powder and put the saucepan on medium heat, stirring until it becomes a thickened chocolate cream and remove from heat.

For the chocolate fondant, add solid dark chocolate, butter, and a splash or Amaretto and heat in the microwave or over a double boiler until melted.

Meanwhile, peel and slice eggplant lengthwise into long thin slices. Fry the eggplant slices in oil until golden. Remove and allow to drain on paper towel to remove as much oil as possible.

In a separate bowl, combine pine nuts and hazelnuts.

Whip whipping cream with a mixer until well whipped. Add the whipped cream to the chocolate cream and fold gently. Add candied citrus peels and a part of the chopped hazelnuts.

Line a square pan with the chocolate/cream mixture. Making sure to squeeze off any extra oil from the eggplant, layer the eggplant, then chocolate cream, then spoon on some of the nuts and crushed Amaretti cookies. Repeat, setting the next layer set perpendicular to the first, so the eggplants cross, repeating chocolate cream, nuts and crushed cookies (usually about 3 layers total).

On the top, pour your chocolate fondant and sprinkle with toasted pine nuts, crushed Amaretti cookies and lemon peels.

Chill for 2-3 hours and serve chilled.

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