Having grown up in the era when salads made with iceberg lettuce and hothouse tomatoes, I welcome crunchy spring salads with ravenous enthusiasm. Brand spanking new spring veggies are leaping off the produce displays into my NPR shopping bag whenever I venture to the grocery store. We no longer have to endure the tired vegetables trucked in from California – everything local is tastier and better for our sorry carbon footprints.
While I wait to harvest our dozen tomato plants, many months from now, I am going to enjoy other peoples’ crops: fresh asparagus, spring peas, crisp peppery radishes, with slices of hard boiled eggs and crunched-up bacon atop green beds of Boston lettuce, arugula and Bibb. I thought this was a grand idea – adding a sprinkling of fresh, edible flowers: I have harvested some pansies from the window boxes, though there is still time before the nasturtiums bloom.
I like a simple vinaigrette salad dressing, but I have noticed that Green Goddess dressing has been enjoying a renaissance. I hope you are making your own dressings – think of the money you could be saving! Remember the golden rule of vinaigrette: one part vinegar to three parts oil. And make a big batch – I keep a stash of Ball jars under the kitchen sink just in case: use 1/4 cup of vinegar mixed with 3/4 cups oil. We use olive oil, but you might like walnut or sesame oil. I always add a pinch of Maldon salt and pepper and a couple of pressed gloves of garlic. And I use apple cider vinegar or red wine vinegar. You might be fancier and like a Champagne vinegar or balsamic vinegar. Experiment to see what you like best. Some people like to add a touch of mustard, or miso, or honey. If you are using a Ball jar, just shake the dressing up to emulsify it. Otherwise, get out a whisk, or a fork, to blend everything evenly, and dress your salad just before eating it.
This month Cook’s Illustrated had a fascinating piece about the real science of soaking vegetables in ice water for added crunch. Leaving the vegetables in a bath of icy cold water rehydrates them – they absorb the water and it causes the pectin within to get firm – more crunch for you. I have often perked up sad limp carrots and celery by putting them into a glass of ice water, and in the summer there is nothing better than a bowl of icy radishes, but it had never occurred to me to add the ice treatment as a regular part of meal prep. If we like the mouth feel of our salad vegetables, then perhaps we will eat more of them! Eureka!
So get out your mandoline, and carefully slice your vegetables, load them into a bowl of ice water and leave it in the fridge overnight. You’ve got a plan for dinner, and it is almost fully prepared. Add some warm crusty bread, a little cheese, a glug of wine and a couple of candles.
Vinaigrette Dressing: https://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-make-a-basic-vinaigrette-226699
Welcome back to the 1950s: Green Goddess Dressing:https://www.copymethat.com/r/APrJt8loH/jamie-olivers-green-goddess-dressing-wit/
Be careful. Don’t just put any flower you see in your salad. Oleander is poison! Edible Flowers:https://whatscookingamerica.net/edibleflowers/edibleflowersmain.htm
“… The older I grow, the more do I love spring and spring flowers. Is it not so with you?”
– Emily Dickinson