Monday, October 30, 2006

Pittsburgh Salad with Rutabaga Fries

Pittsburgh Salad does not enjoy the glamour of New York Cheesecake, Boston Cream Pie, Chicago Style Pizza, or Seattle Coffee. If you haven't lived in da 'Burgh, you probably never even heard of this French-fry-topped salad, and don't realize what you've been missing.

Well, it's about time we put Pittsburgh on the culinary map. I know what you are thinking, "She plans to do that with fries on a salad? Pah - lease!" All I can say is, don't knock it till you try it. A fork loaded with crunchy romaine, well-seasoned waffle fries, and barely-melted cheddar can be remarkably good. My husband introduced me to this culinary wonder on our first date at the Union Bar and Grill on Craig Street, also known as the "Silicon Alley" of Pittsburgh. It was love at first bite.

Why am I telling you about this salad? Bear with me. We got a rutabaga in our CSA this week with "It’s edible. Really!" explanation in the farm newsletter. Poor rutabagas. How did they get such a bad rep? They are sweet and yummy when roasted, particularly when cut into French fry shapes. This maximizes the surface area that touches the roasting pan and helps rutabagas brown. Although they don't turn crispy like potatoes, rutabagas caramelize beautifully and get those addictively sweet edges.

I piled the rutabaga fries on arugula with a little cranberry goat cheese, and pomegranate-almond topping. "Guess what we are having for lunch?" I called out to Jason from the kitchen. He took one look at the plates and said "Pittsburgh salad!" Ok, so maybe this salad is more like Pittsburgh meets California. The fries are not really fries, and it's suspiciously healthy. If you are a Pittsburgh native, please accept my apologies for yuppifying your culinary specialty and defeating the purpose of a properly bad-for-you salad. I just thought that a little change and a few yuppies can do our dear 'Burgh some good.

Pittsburgh Salad with Rutabaga Fries

Make 1 batch of Rutabaga Fries.
Toss mixed greens, arugula, or baby spinach with your favorite vinaigrette (see this salad post if you want a basic recipe for a vinaigrette).
Put the salad on plates and sprinkle with some chopped nuts and/or pomegranates for crunch. Then top with rutabaga fries and, if you wish, some cheese.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

How did you prepare the rutabaga fries?

jo said...

Now there is a culinary wonder that had escaped my notice along with the recently introduced poutine and my husbands penchantfor chip butties (french fries between buttered bread), what next? French fry dessert??

Helen said...

Hi there,

Click on the link to
Rutabaga Fries
in the recipe.

Cheers,
-Helen

Helen said...

Hi Jo,

French fries between buttered bread? And I thought Pittsburg salad was death on a stick ;)

Where are chip butties from?

And who says there is no such thing as regional American cooking?

Cheers,
-Helen

The Droll Bastard said...

I once saw a Pittsburgh Salad served at the Pittsburgh airport. (Why on earth do so many of my flights get routed through there!?)

Anyhow, I didn't know at the time that it was a regional delicacy. But I must say that your rutabagas version sounds excellent. I imagine sweet potato fries would also be good -- and I intend to find out.

Helen said...

Oh yeah -- sweet potato fries would rock on this salad!

Dianka said...

What a great idea! I love exotic salads like this!

Anonymous said...

Helen, Love your website. I check your blog at least twice a week and I have turned many people onto your blog. Keep up the good work.

Your photos are amazing!!!!!

How do you cut the fries? Are they handcut or do you some sort of a contraption?

Thanks.

Helen said...

Dear Anonymous,

Thanks for your kind words about my blog. It means a lot to me :)

No contraption for the fries. Just use a sharp chef's knife. They don't need to be super thin. About 1/3" is good thickness.

Cheers,
-Helen

maryeats said...

Fantastic! I want to eat this now!

Tam & Laura said...

Recently, we made something like this that used roasted potatoes and parsnips to top mixed greens and it was delicious. Can't wait to try your version.

Anonymous said...

Ummm. Pittsburgh Salad ... as good as a Primanti's Pittsburgh Sandwich, with way less fat

Lou,
Pittsburgh PA