19 May 2010

Salad Days

I like most salads just as much as the next person; as a side or precursor to the main dish, playing second fiddle to the starring act. I've never been a salad for lunch everyday kinda girl and I'm a little more than picky when it comes to lettuce (no wilted, tasteless baby greens for me, thank you!). Granted, there are better-than-average salads that have been known to get me really excited. There was, for example, the great food love of my childhood--the 'special' salad at Paesano's in San Antonio--that featured avocado, hearts of palm, and tomato. I think I had it all of two times and I remember it fondly still today. Or, more recently, there was the cardoon and chervil salad at Chez Panisse and, even better, my friend JZ's avocado and grapefruit salad sprinkled delicately with spicy red pepper. Oh and of course there's Lamar's caesar salad (I'll post the recipe soon but be warned, it only tastes right when Lamar makes it) and Carolyn's spinach and avocado delight (Carolyn, how do you make it so good?!). I'm sure there have been many, many more standout salads in my life but they have mostly faded away now, brushed aside in my memory to make room for the more spectacular dishes.

All that as a sort of preamble to something strange that's been going around here foodwise. I've been making salads like crazy. Like everyday...for lunch or dinner. I think it's the heat and also the way I've been cooking and shopping for food. Despite the onset of summer temperatures, there have been beautiful lettuces at the farmers market and baby beets in my garden. I've been buying dried beans and making a batch a week that I add to salads for a bit of extra heft. Plentiful fresh eggs from friends and the market are hardboiled (steamed, actually, for 12 minutes and then dunked in ice water) and sliced over the top. Basically, a salad makes a perfect platform for enjoying fresh, beautiful produce and proteins in their most basic, unadorned, delicious state.

Instead of a recipe, I'm going to leave you with a few more photos of recent salads that have been enjoyed and devoured at my table in the past week. Perhaps they'll inspire you, too, to enjoy these salad days.

Salads pictured at left from the top are:
Two salads in one--kidney bean and rice salad with green salad

More kidney beans but this time with boiled potato and fresh cilantro

This salad was awesome--avocado, walnuts, radishes, beets--what more could you ask for? I usually dress my salads simply with olive oil and some kind of vinegar but this crazy carrot dressing is fantastic if you love ginger (I do).

1 comment:

laurel said...

I immediately made the carrot dressing - delicious! I took great liberites since I didn't have half the ingredients on hand... I added some fresh squeezed orange juice and omitted the shallot and miso. It came out perfect! So refreshing and different... Thanks again for the inspiration, Nis!