Yerba Buena Salad
Source: Val Cantu, Californios
This recipe was demonstrated for CUESA’s Market to Table program on March 18, 2017.
This salad is a home version based on the Yerba Buena Fruit Cup, a placeholder for a dish we always have on the menu at Californios. The name, Yerba Buena, comes from the original name of San Francisco, and a fruit cup is a classic street vendor dish in Mexico and in the Mission District of San Francisco. Californios tries to honor both of them with this dish. We rotate the fruits and vegetables, but it often features Tomales Farmstead Creamery cheese. Their cheeses are so exceptional that Californios is always trying to find a way to highlight them. This goat cheese mousse is an incredibly versatile recipe, which can be enjoyed with crackers, added to soup, or stirred into pasta sauce.
For the restaurant version, the apples are sliced on a Japanese slicer to create sheets of apples. Then the cheese and hazelnuts are added and the apple slices are rolled into tubes. The apple tubes are then dressed with an apple gastrique (reduced vinegar sauce), olive oil, and salt.
1 package Tomales Farmstead Creamery Liwa cheese
3 teaspoons orange blossom honey
3 Meyer lemons
1 pound arugula
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
½ cup toasted hazelnuts (or any nuts you like)
2 Aztec Fuji or Granny Smith apples
1 bunch mint
1 head bronze fennel
Fennel bee pollen (or other bee pollen; optional)
To make the goat cheese mousse: In a bowl, whip the goat cheese with a spatula to soften. Drizzle in 1 teaspoon of honey, the zest of 1 lemon, a squeeze of lemon juice, and a pinch of salt. Mix everything together well, adjust the seasoning if needed, and set aside.
To make the fruit cup: In a large bowl, dress the arugula with the juice of the remaining lemons, the remaining 2 teaspoons of honey, and the olive oil. Chop and add the hazelnuts. Chop the apples, mint, and fennel and add. Toss everything together and transfer to a serving bowl or platter. Add dabs of the goat cheese mousse and sprinkle with pollen, if desired.