Best Dressed
Fancy salads from famous chefs

By Amelia Rasmus

Whether you’re lightening the load on your plate for swimsuit season, planning the perfect menu for a bridal-shower luncheon or abandoning your oven in protest of Triangle humidity, June truly is the month to celebrate the salad days.

The experts know that rabbit food doesn’t have to be boring when sprinkled with surprising ingredients, such as fruit, nuts, herbs and fine cheese.

From New York City to California, America is covered with fine-dining destinations and peopled with the star chefs who started them.

The following recipes from six recent cookbooks by renowned restaurateurs prove that there’s more to life than lettuce:

Olive Salad With Tahini
Cabbage Salad With Mint and Cilantro Web Extra!
Heirloom Tomatoes With Spanish Blue Cheese and Walnut “Pate” and Fresh Herb Salad
Summer Cherry Salad With Honey Vinaigrette Web Extra!
Watermelon, Cherry Tomato, Red Onion and Cucumber Salad
Jicama Salad With Sherry-Lime Vinaigrette Web Extra!
Bibb Lettuce Salad
Chilled Leeks With Vinaigrette and Eggs Mimosa Web Extra!
Wilted Arugula and Roasted Walnut Salad With Warm Goat Cheese Fondue
Warm Porcini and Mesclun Salad With Tomato Vinaigrette Web Extra!
Shaved Fennel Salad With Mustard Vinaigrette and Marcona Almonds
Smoked Chicken Salad With Corn Vinaigrette Web Extra!

“Zov: Recipes and Memories From the Heart”
By Zov Karamardian
Published by Zov’s

Olive Salad With Tahini

“Great cooking stems from experimenting with readily available fresh foods, herbs and spices.”
— Zov Karamardian, owner/chef of Zov’s Bistro in Tustin, Calif.

3 cups pitted, extra-large green olives
1 large tomato, cored, seeded and finely diced
1 cup walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
2/3 cup finely chopped green onions
1/4 cup chopped, fresh cilantro
1/4 cup chopped, fresh Italian parsley
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeno chili, seeded and minced
1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper
1/2 cup Tahini Sauce (see recipe at below)
Teardrop tomatoes, for garnish

Soak the olives in a small bowl of hot water 30 minutes to extract the saltiness. Drain, pat dry and halve the olives.

Toss the olives, tomato, walnuts, green onions, cilantro, parsley, lemon juice, garlic, jalapeno and Aleppo pepper in a large bowl.

Pour the Tahini Sauce over the salad and toss again to coat.

Transfer the olive salad to a serving bowl and garnish with teardrop tomatoes.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Tahini Sauce

2 garlic cloves
1 cup tahini paste
1/4 cup coarsely chopped, fresh cilantro
1/4 cup coarsely chopped, fresh Italian parsley
2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
About 1 cup cold water

Finely chop the garlic in a food processor. Blend in the tahini, cilantro, parsley, salt and pepper.

With the machine running, add the lemon juice. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the sides and bottom of the work bowl.

Slowly blend in enough water to form a sauce the consistency of buttermilk.

The sauce will keep up to 2 days. Store it in a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid and keep refrigerated.

Makes about 2-1/2 cups.

Cabbage Salad With Mint and Cilantro

1/2 head of green cabbage, thinly sliced (about 5 cups)
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and cut into matchsticks
1 small, red bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
1 small, red onion, very thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
3 green onions, thinly sliced on the diagonal
1/2 cup coarsely chopped, lightly packed, fresh cilantro leaves
1/2 cup thinly sliced, lightly packed, fresh mint leaves
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
Mint sprigs, for garnish
Cilantro sprigs, for garnish

In a large bowl, combine the cabbage, cucumber, bell pepper, red onion, green onions, cilantro and mint.

Whisk the lime juice, lemon juice, vinegar, sugar and salt in a medium bowl until the sugar and salt dissolve, and toss to coat.

Garnish the coleslaw with the mint and cilantro sprigs.

Makes 4 to 6 servings


“Geronimo: Fine Dining in Sante Fe”
By Cliff Skoglund, Eric DiStefano & Chris Harvey
Published by Ten Speed Press

Heirloom Tomatoes With Spanish Blue Cheese and Walnut “Pate” and Fresh Herb Salad

“The many moments, hours, days, years I have worked in kitchens, has been a 20-year education.”
— Eric DiStefano, chef of Sante Fe’s Geronimo

For the pate

8 ounces Spanish blue cheese
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons Cognac
2 tablespoons minced, fresh chives
1/2 cup walnut pieces, toasted
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons freshly ground white pepper

For the tomatoes

2 pounds mixed heirloom tomatoes, 6 to 18 small
to medium
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon fleur de sel
Freshly ground black pepper

For the salad

2 heads baby frisee, thoroughly washed and
12 small, fresh basil leaves
12 fresh oregano leaves
Tender chive stems, 2 inches long
8 sprigs chervil
1/2 cup basic vinaigrette (see recipe below)
2 pinches fleur de sel
Pinch of freshly ground white pepper

Place a small bowl and a wire whisk in the refrigerator to chill.

To prepare the pate, combine the cheese and butter in a mixing bowl and mash with a wooden spoon.

Remove the chilled bowl from the refrigerator and add the cream.

Using the chilled whisk, whip the cream to soft peaks. Gently fold the whipped cream into the cheese mixture. Add the Cognac, chives, walnuts, sugar and white pepper. Fold the ingredients together to blend.

Shape the cheese pate into an 8-inch log and place it along the short site of a 12-by-24-inch piece of parchment paper, about 3 inches in from the edge, leaving 2 inches of paper on each end.

Wrap the paper over the log, and roll the log inside the paper, forming a tube shape.

Apply pressure evenly and wrap the pate firmly in the parchment, making sure to keep the log smooth and round.

Twist the paper ends tightly to seal. Refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight.

Remove from the refrigerator and unwrap the parchment from the chilled pate. Using a thin-bladed knife, slice off 4 (1-inch) rounds. Transfer to a plate and cover.

Peel the tomatoes and slice them thickly (about 4 slices per tomato).

Arrange the slices on a baking pan and drizzle olive oil over them. Season with salt and pepper.

To prepare the salad, place the frisee, basil, oregano, chives and chervil in a large bowl.

Slowly pour a fine stream of the well-whisked vinaigrette over the greens. Season with salt and white pepper and toss gently.

Chill 4 salad plates.

Stack 3 to 5 slices of tomato on each salad plate, varying the color and size.

Equally divide the herb salad into 4 portions, and place a small mound beside the tomatoes.

Arrange the pate rounds to create a visually pleasing triangle.

Makes 4 servings.

Geronimo Basic Vinaigrette

1 tablespoon red-wine vinegar
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
1 teaspoon minced shallot
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon minced, fresh chives
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup light olive oil

Combine the vinegars, shallot and sugar in a bowl and whisk just until the sugar dissolves.

Add the chives, mustard, salt and pepper and whisk until blended.

Slowly drizzle in the olive oil, while whisking continuously, to form an emulsion.

Use immediately or transfer to an airtight storage container and refrigerate up to 3 days.

This emulsion breaks down quickly, so you will need to whisk again just before dressing greens.

Makes about 1/2 cup.

Summer Cherry Salad With Honey Vinaigrette

For the vinaigrette

2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 teaspoon minced shallot
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 cup light olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper

For the salad

40 ripe cherries
2 heads Belgian endive
2 bunches baby living watercress
Kosher salt

Combine the rice vinegar, shallot, honey, olive oil, salt and white pepper in a nonreactive bowl. Whisk together the ingredients.

Stem, split and pit the cherries.

Slice the Belgian endive in half lengthwise. Cut out the core and separate the leaves.

(Once Belgian endive has been cut, the exposed edges will oxidize and rust. If you are going to prepare this salad in advance, soak the leaves in cold milk to preserve their color and crispness. Make sure to dry then thoroughly before dressing.)

Place the watercress in a colander. Wash in cold water and spin dry.

Chill 4 plates.

In a large bowl, combine the endive and watercress.

Whisk the vinaigrette and sprinkle over the greens. Toss gently to coat thoroughly.

Immediately before serving, toss in the cherries and serve as a large, family-style salad or arranged on the chilled plates.

Makes 4 servings.


“Simple Pleasures: Home Cooking From the Gotham Bar and Grill’s Acclaimed Chef”
By Alfred Portale and Andrew Friedman
Published by William Morrow

Watermelon, Cherry Tomato, Red Onion and Cucumber Salad

“When I cook at home, even if the guests include other chefs, I keep it simple.”
— Alfred Portale, executive chef/co-owner of New York’s Gotham Bar and Grill

3 cups diced watermelon, preferably seedless
1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
1/3 cup minced red onion
1 cup diced, peeled and seeded cucumber
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice, plus more to taste
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Coarse salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Put the watermelon, tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, lime juice and oil in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper, and toss.

Cover and chill at least 1 hour.

Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.

Serve well-chilled.

Makes 4 servings.

Jicama Salad With Sherry-Lime Vinaigrette

Coarse salt
8 ounces haricots verts or regular green beans, ends trimmed
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1/2 teaspoon ancho chile powder, smoked paprika with a pinch of cayenne
Freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
8 ounces jicama, peeled and julienned (about 2 cups)
8 radishes, julienned, ideally on a mandoline (about 1/2 cup), green tops reserved
1 Roma tomato, peeled, seeded and diced
2 cups watercress, tough stems removed (from about 1 bunch)

Bring a small pot of salted water to a boil. Fill a large bowl halfway with ice water.

Add the haricots verts to the boiling water and cook 3 minutes. Drain and cool in the ice water. Drain again and set aside.

To make the vinaigrette, whisk the lime juice, sherry vinegar and ancho powder together in a small bowl, and season with salt and pepper. Slowly whisk in the olive oil.

In a large bowl, combine the jicama, radishes, haricots verts and tomato. Dress with a few spoonfuls of vinaigrette and season with salt and pepper.

Arrange the salad on a serving platter.

In the same bowl used for the jicama, dress the watercress and reserved radish leaves with the remaining vinaigrette, and season with salt and pepper.

Garnish the vegetables with a bouquet of these dressed greens and serve.

Makes 4 servings.

By Thomas Keller with Jeffrey Cerciello
Published by Artisan

Bibb Lettuce Salad

“I used to joke that I opened Bouchon…so that I’d have a place to eat after cooking all night at the French Laundry.”
— Thomas Keller, chef/proprietor of two Napa Valley restaurants

4 heads Bibb lettuce
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons minced shallots
2 tablespoons minced chives
1/4 cup Italian parsley leaves
1/4 cup tarragon leaves
1/4 cup chervil leaves
1/2 cup House Vinaigrette (see recipe below)
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Carefully cut out the core from each head of lettuce and separate the leaves, but keep each head together. Discard any tough outer leaves.

Because each head of lettuce will be reassembled, the easiest way to work is with one head at a time. First, place the leaves in a bowl of cold water to refresh them and remove any dirt, then lift out and spin-dry in a salad spinner.

Place the leaves from a single head of lettuce in a bowl.

Sprinkle with a pinch of salt, a few grinds of pepper, 1-1/2 teaspoons of the shallots and chives, and 1 tablespoon each of the parsley, tarragon and chervil.

Toss gently with 2 tablespoons of the vinaigrette and 1 teaspoon of lemon juice.

Repeat with the remaining heads of lettuce.

For each serving, arrange the outer lettuce leaves as a base on the plate and rebuild each head, ending with the smallest, most tender leaves.

Makes 4 servings.

Bouchon House Vinaigrette

1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1/2 cup red-wine vinegar
1-1/2 cups canola oil

Combine the mustard and vinegar in a blender and process at medium speed about 15 seconds.

With the machine running, slowly drizzle in 1/2 cup of the oil.

Don’t be tempted to add all the oil to the blender or the vinaigrette will become too thick. It should be very creamy.

Transfer the vinaigrette to a small bowl and, whisking constantly, slowly stream in the remaining cup of oil.

This dressing can be refrigerated up to 2 weeks. Should the vinaigrette separate, use a blender or immersion blender to re-emulsify it.

Makes about 2-1/2 cups.

Chilled Leeks With Vinaigrette and Eggs Mimosa

8 medium leeks (about 1 inch in diameter)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups House Vinaigrette (see recipe above)
1/4 cup julienned (1/4-inch wide) piquillo peppers
10 hard-cooked, large eggs
2 tablespoons, plus 2 teaspoons, minced chives
Extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling

Trim the hairy roots from the leeks, but leave the root end intact.

Remove and discard any tough outer leaves. Cut off and discard the dark-green tops.

To clean the leeks, split each lengthwise, beginning about 1 inch up from the root end and, holding the leek open, rinse under warm water.

Fit a large pot with a steamer insert, add water and bring to a boil.

Tie the tops of the leeks together with kitchen twine to hold them together during steaming.

Add the leeks to the steamer, cover and steam about 10 minutes, or until tender throughout when pierced with a knife.

Remove from the steamer and let cool about 5 minutes. (Because the leeks will turn "olive drab" after marinating, there is no need to shock them in a ice bath to preserve the color.)

Discard the twine and cut through the root ends of the leeks to split them completely in half. Place, cut-side up, in a shallow baking dish and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.

Whisk 1 cup of the vinaigrette with 1 cup cold water. Pour over the leeks, cover, and refrigerate at least 6 hours, or up to 2 days.

To serve, season the piquillo pepper with salt and pepper.

Separate the egg whites and egg yolks. Push the yolks through the large holes of a grater and finely chop them. Reserve the whites for another use, if desired.

Remove the leeks from the marinade, and discard the remaining marinade.

Trim the root ends, leaving only the tender leek. (If the leeks are longer than your serving plates, trim the greens as necessary.)

Sprinkle the leeks with salt and pepper. Stack the leek halves, cut-side down, in piles of two and crisscross two piles on each plate to form an X.

Spoon the remaining vinaigrette over the centers of the salads.

Sprinkle the egg yolks over the vinaigrette, then sprinkle the yolks with a pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper.

Garnish the center of each salad with a small mound of peppers, sprinkle each salad with 2 teaspoons minced chives and drizzle with a little olive oil.

Makes 4 servings.


“Great American Food”
By Charlie Palmer with Judith Choate
Published by Ten Speed Press

Wilted Arugula and Roasted Walnut Salad With Warm Goat Cheese Fondue

“My recipes are a definite extension of my personality. There is no denying that I am a big American guy with a heritage of many nationalities.”
— Charlie Palmer, chef and owner of restaurants in New York City, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C. and the California Wine country

1 Granny Smith apple
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
3 bunches arugula
4-1/2 ounces fresh goat cheese
3 tablespoons heavy cream
3/8 cup walnut oil
3 tablespoons white-wine vinegar
Coarse salt
24 toasted walnut halves

Peel and core the apple. Cut it into fine julienne strips.

Toss the apple with lemon juice to keep it from discoloring. Cover until ready to use.

Wash and dry arugula. Pick off any discolored parts and set it aside.

Combine goat cheese and cream in a small saucepan over low heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until smooth and well combined. Remove from heat.

Toss arugula with oil and vinegar. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Arrange equal portions of the dressed arugula on each of 6 chilled salad plates. Randomly place 4 walnut halves and equal portions of the reserved apple julienne over the greens.

Drizzle the warm goat cheese mixture over the salad in a crisscross pattern. Serve immediately.

Makes 6 servings.

Warm Porcini and Mesclun Salad With Tomato Vinaigrette

4 very ripe, medium tomatoes
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Coarse salt
12 chives
1/2 pound mesclun
1-1/2 pounds fresh porcini mushrooms
1 cup Tomato Vinaigrette (see recipe below)

Peel, core and quarter the tomatoes. Remove the seeds and membranes and trim the ends so that the tomato pieces will lie flat.

Place the tomatoes in a nonreactive bowl and toss with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, the balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper to taste.

Wash and dry chives. Cut them into 1-inch pieces and set aside.

Wash and dry mesclun. Place the greens in a mixing bowl and set aside.

Using a pastry brush, gently clean mushrooms of any dirt particles. Trim off any blemishes and slice, randomly, into 1/4-inch-thick pieces.

Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a heavy, nonstick sauté pan over medium heat. add half the porcini. Season to taste with slat and pepper and sauté about 2 minutes, or until golden.

Scrape the mushrooms from the pan onto a paper towel to drain.

Place the remaining 3 tablespoons of the oil in the same pan and proceed as above to sauté and drain the rest of the porcini.

Toss mesclun with half of the tomato vinaigrette. Mound equal portions in the center of each of 6 luncheon plates. Place equal portions of the mushrooms evenly over the top of the greens.

Position 2 marinated tomato circles opposite each other on 2 sides of the plate.

Drizzle the remaining vinaigrette over all. Sprinkle with chives and serve while porcini are warm.

Makes 6 servings.

Tomato Vinaigrette

6 cloves garlic
4 shallots
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup canned tomato puree
1/4 cup chopped Spanish onion
/4 cup chopped celery
2 tablespoons chopped, fresh basil
1 tablespoon chopped, fresh oregano
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
1/4 cup red wine
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 cup tomato oil (see recipe below)
1/2 cup red-wine vinegar
Coarse salt to taste
2 tablespoons finely diced, peeled, seeded plum tomato
1 tablespoon julienned, fresh basil leaves

Peel and chop garlic and shallots.

Heat the olive oil in a small saucepan over medium heat.

Add chopped garlic and shallots, tomato puree, onion, celery, chopped basil, oregano, bay leaves and pepper. Stir to coat.

Lower the heat and suate about 5 minutes, or until vegetables are transluscent.

Add the red wine and stir to deglaze the pan.

Continue to cook about 4 minutes or until liquid is reduced by half.

Immediately strain through a fine-mesh sieve, pushing to extract all the liquid. Discard the solids. Allow the liquid to cool.

When cool, whisk in tomato oil and vinegar until just barely combined. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Stir in diced tomato and julienned basil just before serving.

Makes about 1 cup.

Tomato Oil

4 cloves garlic
1-1/2 cups , plus 2 tablespoons, olive oil
1/4 cup chopped, white onion
1/4 cup chopped celery
2 tablespoons chopped, fresh basil
1 tablespoon chopped, fresh oregano
2 bay leaves
1/2 cup canned tomato puree

Peel and chop the garlic.

Heat 1/4 cup of the olive oil in a small saucepan over medium heat.

Add the chopped garlic, onion, celery, basil, oregano and bay leaves. Saute the mixture until the vegetables are tender.

Add the tomato puree. Lower the heat and cook, stirring constantly, 15 minutes.

Then, add remaining olive oil and cook, stirring occasionally, 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside at least 8 hours to allow the oil to rise to the top.

Using a small ladle, remove the tomato-flavored oil, being careful to not disturb the solids that have settled on the bottom of the pan. Discard the solids.

Pour the oil into a nonreactive container. Cover and refrigerate up to 2 weeks

Makes about 1-1/2 cups.


“Workin’: More Kitchen Sessions With Charlie Trotter”
By Charlie Trotter and Sari Zarnich
Published by Ten Speed Press

Shaved Fennel Salad With Mustard Vinaigrette and Marcona Almonds

“A light salad is ideal for a summertime luncheon.”
— Charlie Trotter, chef of Chicago’s Charlie Trotter’s

For the vinaigrette

2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard
1 tablespoon apple-cider vinegar
2 tablespoons water
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the salad

2 cups shaved fennel bulb
2 cups firmly packed, mixed baby greens, cleaned
1 head Belgian endive, julienned
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the garnish

4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup halved, red, teardrop tomatoes
1/2 cup halved, yellow, teardrop tomatoes
1 cup small-diced, peeled Asian pear
1/2 cup Marcona almonds, toasted and coarsely chopped
1/3 cup coarsely chopped fennel fronds
Freshly ground black pepper

To prepare the vinaigrette, place the mustard, vinegar and water in a bowl. Slowly whisk in the olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper.

For the salad, place the fennel, baby greens and endive in a mixing bowl. Toss with 2 tablespoons of the mustard vinaigrette and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Drizzle the olive oil around each plate. Spoon the mustard vinaigrette in a circle around the plate.

Arrange some of the salad mixture in a high mound in the center of each plate. Sprinkle the tomatoes, pear and almonds around the salad. Sprinkle the fennel fronds over the salad and top with pepper.

Makes 4 servings.

Smoked Chicken Salad With Corn Vinaigrette

For the chicken

3 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
2 cups Pickling Brine (see recipe below)
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
Freshly ground black pepper
2 cups dry hickory chips, plus 1 cup hickory chips soaked overnight in water to cover, then drained

For the vinaigrette

1/4 cup small-diced, red onion
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup sweet corn kernels
3 tablespoons sherry vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped, fresh chives
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the salad

2 cups cooked wild rice
1/4 cup small-diced, roasted red bell pepper
1/4 cup small-diced, roasted yellow bell pepper
3 scallions, finely sliced on the diagonal
1/2 cup sweet corn kernels, cooked
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Soak the chicken breasts in the brine 4 hours and drain.

Prepare a medium-hot grill. Brush the chicken with the grapeseed oil and season with the pepper.

Place the dry hickory chips over the hot coals in the grill. When the dry chips catch fire, sprinkle wet chips over the coals.

Place the chicken breasts on the grill and cover tightly with the grill lid. Smoke 5 minutes, then turn the chicken over and smoke 5 to 7 minutes longer, or until cooked through.

Remove the chicken from the grill and slice into 1/4-inch-thick pieces.

To prepare the vinaigrette, sauté the onion in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium heat 5 minutes, or until translucent.

Add the corn and continue to cook until the corn is tender, about 5 minutes.

Add the remaining olive oil, the vinegar and the chives. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

To prepare the salad, combine the wild rice, bell peppers, scallions and corn in a bowl. Fold in half the corn vinaigrette and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Place a 4-inch ring mold in the center of each plate. Spoon some of the salad into the ring and press down firmly.

Remove the mold and arrange some of the sliced chicken atop the salad in a pinwheel shape.

Spoon the remaining corn vinaigrette over the chicken and around the plate. Top with freshly ground black pepper.

Makes 4 servings.

Pickling Brine

1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 whole clove
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1 teaspoon chopped fresh ginger
1/2 jalapeno chile, seeded and chopped

Combine all the ingredients in a small saucepan and simmer over low heat 5 minutes, or until the salt and sugar dissolve.

Makes 2 cups.