This salad was developed by one of the best chefs in the world Chef Bernie Kantak in Scottsdale, Arizona. I’ve put my own twist on it, but kept the same spirit. Mixing the salad at the table sets the perfect scene.
1/4 cup basil pesto
1/2 shallot, roughly chopped
1/2 cup aioli (see note)
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/3 cup cooked Israeli couscous
2 ounces chopped arugula
1/3 cup diced roma tomatoes
1 teaspoon fresh chopped basil
Drizzle of balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup diced smoked salmon
1 tablespoon crumbled Asiago or Feta cheese
1 tablespoon toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
2 tablespoons dried black currants
For the dressing: Combine pesto, shallot and aioli in a food processor; blend thoroughly. With motor running, add buttermilk. Add pepper and lemon juice; blend to combine. Season with salt and pepper.
Note: Aioli is like garlicky mayonnaise. Look for it in gourmet food stores, or make your own by blending together 1 to 2 finely minced garlic cloves, 1/3 cup olive oil and 1/4 cup mayonnaise.
For the salad: Combine the cheese, pepitas, and currants together to make trail mix and set aside. Combine tomatoes, basil, and balsamic vinegar and set aside. Start arranging ingredients in separate rows on a large platter or bowl. Begin with salmon, following by a row of arugula, then couscous, trail mix, sweet corn, and last a row of the tomatoes. Toss salad at the table, using about half of the batch of dressing. (Refrigerate remaining dressing up to three days.)