Hye Thyme Cafe: Ants on a Log Salad

Welcome to the Hy
e Thyme Cafe. Although not all of my recipes are Armenian, the name is a little nod to my Armenian grandmother who is no longer with us. The Hye refers to all things related to her homeland, and she represents all things food-related to me, so the two just seemed to go together. I can't even claim that my Armenian recipes are truly Armenian, since Greece, Turkey, Armenia, Lebanon, Syria, and even Egypt share so many foods that they've all sort of morphed into one over thousands of years.

Whether you like to cook, bake, have never done either, or just like to play with your food...come on in and join me! :)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Ants on a Log Salad

Ants on a Log Salad : Hye Thyme Cafe

I was eating celery stuffed with peanut butter one night while going through old photos and came across one from my college days that included the Ritz-Carlton in Boston, which for some reason came to mind as the Waldorf Astoria. Maybe that was my subconscious speaking, because the combination of the celery and the hotel made me think of Waldorf Salad. I like walnuts in Paklava and things like that, but not in a salad; pine nuts - sure, peanuts - definitely, pecans - candied, but walnuts, not for me thanks. Anyhow, that line of thinking is what led to this particular experiment. The Waldorf Salad morphed with Ants on a Log (celery, peanut butter, raisins).

I hate to say it, me being a a die-hard Jif fan, but I think next time I make this, I'll have to use a different brand of peanut butter.  I use Jif for other peanut sauces with no problem, but for this, it took so much to thin it to the right consistency that it lost that punch of peanut flavor. I made this salad last night to serve three. There was definitely enough dressing to serve more, but for additional people, you will want to increase the salad items.

1 head butter / bibb lettuce
1 crisp apple - diced (skin on)
4-5 stalks celery hearts - diced
1/4 c raisins
1/4 c dry-roasted peanuts - rough chopped (additional for garnish)

3 T peanut butter
3 T plain yogurt
1 t white balsamic vinegar
pinch of salt
milk as needed

For the dressing, whisk together the peanut butter, yogurt, balsamic, and salt. I was originally thinking the yogurt would thin out the peanut butter enough, but that was not the case, so I added milk, a little at a time, until it got to the right texture. The balsamic was to balance out the sweetness of the peanut butter.

I have noticed that a lot of people cut the ends off their celery. Some use a vegetable peeler to remove the strings, and some use the tops in their dish. I'll throw the tops in soups and that sort of thing, but I don't personally care for them in a salad. I never cut the stalks though. I always bend the ends back (like you would an asparagus spear), and when it snaps, I pull that piece down the entire length to pull the strings off with it. That way, you can de-string it but still retain the ribs. When you use a veggie peeler, the stalks end up flat.

Wash the lettuce, pat the leaves dry, and layer them in salad bowls/plates. Drizzle with just a little of the dressing.

Toss the apple, celery, and peanut pieces in a bowl with the raisins, and pour in just enough dressing to coat.

Spoon the filling over the lettuce and garnish with additional peanuts.

Ants on a Log Salad : Hye Thyme Cafe

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