In my early days of being a bright-eyed foodie (yes, I still am), we went to Rose Pistola restaurant in San Francisco. It was a fantastic meal with the perfect ambiance, attentive service and quality food. It’s funny though – I can’t remember what I ordered for dinner because the salad struck a chord with me with its simple yet intriguing flavors. Made with rocket (also known as arugula), persimmons and toasted hazelnuts, the salad is dressed with just hazelnut oil and salt and pepper (hazelnut oil is light yet has a heady, rich nutty aroma). Until recently, I would only make the salad when persimmons were in season – a few short weeks here – and sometimes the season would come and go with me lamenting that “I missed the Rose Pistola salad again this year!” While persimmons are a sweet and unique fruit to use, I started using mangoes so we could enjoy this salad almost any time of the year. They are a dandy substitute; the sweet fruit plays beautifully against the spicy arugula leaves and the nutty flavors from the hazelnuts and oil add another dimension of flavor. In this rocket salad, the simplicity of the flavors shines through – another wonderful food memory re-created at home.
Rocket Salad with Mangoes & Hazelnuts
Recipe adapted from Rose Pistola/San Francisco
Melissa Schenker/Foodie for Two
Serves two foodies for a side salad
3 to 4 handfuls of rocket or baby arugula
Sea salt (or kosher salt)
Fresh cracked pepper
½ mango, peeled, cored and sliced into strips
3 to 4 tablespoons chopped, toasted hazelnuts
Add the rocket/arugula leaves to a large bowl and drizzle lightly with hazelnut oil (about 2 or 3 teaspoons), along with a scant 1/8 teaspoon salt and a good pinch of pepper. Gently toss to evenly coat the leaves; you want just enough oil so the leaves glisten.
Add the mango slices and chopped hazelnuts and toss together. If needed, add more hazelnut oil to taste.
Mound the salad on two plates, add a pinch of sea salt on top and serve immediately.