"She refused to be bored, chiefly because she wasn't boring." Zelda Fitzgerald

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Salad Proficiency

There is the feel of spring in the air. It's warm! Hooray time for salad! Every time I step out the door some green shoot is taller or more visible or sporting buds. Pretty soon I'll be mulling over which greens to pop into our collection of raised beds.

This week when I made my little sojourn to the library and stood musing in front of the home decorating/ gardening/cooking shelf on the New Arrivals bookcase, I saw Patricia Wells' book, Salad As A Meal. I snapped it up. Soup and salad have been my major handicaps as a cook for years and so I still jump at solutions or advice in those categories. Even though the author on the cover looks a bit nervous, the recipes inside are wonderful! I can't wait to try them all out. Here's a sneak peek:
  • Chicken Salad W/ Green Beans Tahini Lemon Dressing and Cilantro
  • Lime and Lemongrass Cured Beef Salad
  • Potato Salad W/ Capers, Spring Onions and Mint
  • Crab, Avocado and Quinoa Salad W/ Technicolor Tomatoes
  • Canteloupe, Tomato, Goat Cheese, Cucumber Salad
  • Fig, Sheep Cheese, Pomegranate, Arugula and Kumquat Salad
I could go on and on. Apparently Ms. Wells is a fairly lauded authoress and quite well known in the food world. She won a James Beard Award (the highest cookbook honor) for her 1996 tome Patricia Wells, At Home In Provence. Maybe I have more reading to do.

 I thought I'd share one of the two salads I can turn out with great ease. This dish make me feel like a summer queen. It is simple: spinach, berries (all kinds work, I always try to work in two colors: blackberries and strawberries, raspberries and blueberries...etc.), crumbles of goat cheese and dressing. I'm not sure who thought this one up but it wasn't me...someone somewhere invented it and it's all over the place. I used to always make this with a sugar loaded poppy seed dressing which is lip-smackingly delicious but really only got use in our house for this single recipe and contained a truckload of sweetener to boot. (No wonder it tasted so great!) I stopped buying the dressing and making this salad for a while which felt sad.

Then I ran across this magical bottle of balsamic reduction and bought it for use in sauces and such and one day I had a desperate yen for my salad and tried the reduction instead of the old bottled dressing of yore. It was divine. There's no added sugar in balsamic vinegar, nothing in fact except for vinegar but it gives a wonderful sweet flavor with the hit of tang the dish needs. I'm home free! I love solutions.

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