In praise of salad….
May 8, 2009
Seems like a bit of an unlikely one given that it’s pelting it down outside but we’re in Lettuce season and this week’s bags have a lovely head that travelled, ooh, all of 45 minutes from Kilpedder in Wicklow to us here in Harold’s Cross. Now that’s what I call local. Superfresh, at it’s natural best it’s definitely time for salad.
Salad in our house is a pretty regular thing right through the year. Sometimes, simple and green with a very basic vinaigrette (3 parts your best Olive Oil to 1 part Red Wine Vinegar) it ends any meal perfectly and while I’m not keen on serving salad with a main course I do love to add it to the plate before the last bite’s gone as it’s perfect for mopping up the juices of what came before. We tend to eat mainly veggies so oftentimes I throw in other stuff to add bulk but also variety and interest. Things like Walnuts, Pecans, Hazelnuts and of course all kinds of Seeds, chopped Scallions, Avocado, a sprinkling of Feta or Goat’s Cheese are regular additions.
Sometimes salad is the meal especially when time is tight. Griddle or fry up some of this week’s courgettes or roast Carrot batons and serve on top of green leaves then sprinkle with Parmesan shavings and maybe some toasted Pinenuts. Fry up some Pancetta or streaky Bacon and throw on with some croutons and Parmesan. If you’re really famished fried spuds are great, as is a poached eggs and some Asparagus spears. In the middle of summer a Greek salad with Tomatoes at their peak, salty Feta, Olives and Cucumber makes a lovely lunch. Beans are plentiful at this time of year and always work well. Keep it simple with your default vinaigrette, and some new Potaoes or Nicoise it up with a boiled egg and Anchovies. I like Beans with a spicy tomato relish got by cooking onions in Olive Oil for ages til they almost melt, then Garlic then a tin of chopped Tomatoes and Chili. It’s not ready until it has turned a deep red and reduced by two thirds so I always make 2 tins worth. Cook your beans then sit them on top of some barely dressed leaves and top with relish and eat with good bread. Yum! Fried Mushrooms and Goat’s Cheese is lovely and a little dollop of Black or Red currant jam in with your vinaigrette adds something new although generally I don’t much care for dried fruit in salads except for maybe Apricots. Sultanas for me, work well in Cous Cous salads which I love love love. Add some Middle Eastern flavour with Onion fried with Cumin Seeds then some roasted root vegetables which are almost finished now til later on in the year but there’s still the Carrots. In this dish Peppers work well fried up with the Onions or you can also roast them (I do this on the stovetop over a naked gas flame then bag them for a few minutes so the blistered skin lifts off more easily).
One final thing lettuce with a scant dressing of Lemon juice is the perfect foil for fried fish. Fresh tender Calamari with a little lemon juice, salt and pepper rarely taste better when served on a bed of Lettuce….
There’s Rainbow Chard (it looks like Spinach but has gorgeous red and yellow stems) in a lot of our bags this week though as we only got a limited amount so some of you have regular baby Chard or Pak Choy. The Rainbow variety is supertender with no bitterness. Wilt it and dress with Olive Oil and Lemon juice. Don’t worry if you didn’t get any this week. We’ll definitely be reordering in the upcoming weeks.
Our larger bags have pink radishes (they look like carrots) which are for salads and add a lovely peppery flavour.
Have a great weekend,