Imeretian Cheese, Grape and Walnut Salad

By now, you have doubtlessly made pounds and pounds of the Imeretian cheese I blogged about earlier this week. You must be wondering “oh, what to do with all this delicious cheese?” Brush aside all the fuss about seasonal cooking, and try this very simple salad, one of the simplest posts on my entire blog! The dish is inspired by something I found in Michael Natkin’s Herbivoracious. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend the book; I only found the one recipe interesting. But this salad tastes great, and uses typically Georgian ingredients.

Georgian Food - Imeretian Cheese, Grape and Walnut Salad

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“Baku Palace” King Crab Salad

This recipe is inspired by the crab salad I ate at Baku Palace in Sheepshead Bay a few weeks ago (my restaurant review will come soon, but for now the place is still without power since Hurricane Sandy). The original recipe was terribly deceptive, as the dish, priced at $20 for two people, consisted of julienned cucumber, ground walnut, and… surimi.

So, in order to get rid of the feeling of being cheated, I figured I’d do my own version at home, for about the same price but with real king crab. I added a couple of elements to the recipe and I’m serving it on toasted bread, but the spirit remains the same. Compared to many other posts on my blog, this is surprisingly quick and easy to make. And still delicious!

Russian Cuisine - King Crab Salad

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Grilled Watermelon, Cherry Tomato and Brynza Salad

This dish is inspired by a recipe from John Besh’s My New Orleans, a book that mysteriously arrived on my doorstep without me even ordering it. I was immediately seduced because it combined typical Caucasian ingredients — watermelon, tomatoes, cheese and herbs — in an unusual fashion. Indeed I must say I’d never tried or thought of grilling watermelon before! My main contribution was to focus on slightly fewer flavors and reinforce the presence of products from the region: goat cheese was replaced with brynza, pepper jelly vinaigrette and balsamic vinegar with honey. This is a great summertime dish, and if you happen to make your own white wine, this would be great to eat with it!

Grilled watermelon
Yields 4 servings

1/8 of a seedless watermelon
1 1/2 oz olive oil
3/4 oz light, liquid honey

  • Remove the rind of the watermelon, and cut into 12 triangles, about 3/4″ thick. Mix the olive oil and honey, and brush on both sides of the triangles. Let rest for 10 minutes.
  • Season the watermelon with a little bit of salt, and cook on a hot grill just until you see hatch-mark patterns on both sides. Remove from the heat and reserve.

Yields 4 servings

24 cherry tomatoes of various colors
black pepper, ground
top-quality olive oil
grilled watermelon
3/4 oz rocket leaves
3/4 oz purple basil leaves
4 oz brynza (or Bulgarian feta)

  • Lightly char the cherry tomatoes with a blowtorch, then toss in a bowl with salt, pepper, and a little bit of olive oil.
  • On each plate, place 3 triangles of watermelon, surrounded by 6 cherry tomatoes. Toss the rocket and purple basil with salt and a little bit of olive oil and arrange on the plates, then crumble the brynza on top. Serve immediately.