Thinking Outside of the Salad Box.

(For the reader who enquired yesterday, the footed silver plate “riser” in the middle of the table is just that. It lifts candles, floral arrangements or communal dishes a bit higher and, like a trivet, protects the finish on the table. It was a birthday present from Mrs. E.)

I dislike making salads. I don’t know why. I’m most successful at a Greek salad (no surprise there) and often rely on the mixed field greens that are boxed or bagged by the grocery store chains. Our friends overseas are used to cooking with what is seasonal and available at the markets that pop up every weekend in the town center or a large parking lot on the outskirts of the village. It is a far more enjoyable way to shop and can lead to an innovative meal if you’ve brought home some unusual ingredients.

You may have noticed yesterday that there were two side salads served during our paella luncheon. They were interesting and all a product of our trip to the farmer’s market. As interesting as the half fig, drizzled with olive oil, sprinkled with salt and fresh cracked pepper and dressed with a half a white anchovy that was served for an appetizer. Very easy and very elegant.

A small “fruit” salad was composed of tomatoes, red onion, cilantro and peaches. The dressing was made of olive oil, salt, pepper, red wine vinegar, and a splash of soy sauce. Delicious.

The green salad began with heating a skillet on the stove and toasting some Virginia peanuts and walnuts. The greens were farm fresh, peppery arugula. A bit of red onion was added to the mix which was dressed with a spicy mustard vinaigrette made with Mr. Mustard. I suspect that the red onion was carmelized whilst I set the table. At least looks that way in the photo above. The dressing was chunky enough.

[Update via: Iñigo: … a handful of figs cut in tiny little slices, that went really well with the nuts. And the vinaigrette had: vegetable oil, wine vinegar, black pepper, salt, mustard anda little  strawberry jam, since the rucula was peppery enough to “handle” it.]

So next time you’re casting about for a side dish, don’t be afraid to experiment a little. Think outside the box of salad. Just make sure that the main course is an old favourite and all will be right with the world.

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8 Responses to Thinking Outside of the Salad Box.

  1. Pedro says:

    Looks Inigo is a fine ambassador of the Spanish food. The paella recipe is simple but delicious, as good Basque the cuisine seems one of his strengths.

    I rather favor seafood paella, made with fish stock, variety of fish, clams, squid, octopus and prawns.

    About salads I like a mixed greens (whatever is fresh that day), good tomatoes, and a vinaigrette made with olive virgin oil, Jerez vinegar oak aged, finely chopped white onions and diced garlic roasted peppers (you can buy it canned).

  2. Iñigo says:

    I feel some correections are needed. On the one hand, there was no need to add any sugar to the red salad, those red peaches were sweet enough.
    On the other hand, the rucula salad had no onion, but a handful of figs cut in tiny little slices, that went realy well with the nuts. And the vinaigrette had: vegetable oil, wine vinegar, black pepper, salt, mustard anda little strawberry jam, since the rucula was peppery enough to “handle” it.
    (One more thing, I believe one should think of salads the way we think of cocktails: We need some balance and want to know where all the new taste comes from.)
    As for the rest, it is cloudy in Barcelona.
    Best,
    Iñigo

  3. The Architect says:

    Here’s one for the book: Rub heads of Romain lettuce with oil; if the head is particularly large, cut it in half.
    Using a charcoal grill and wet hickory wood, place the lettuces on the grill – away from the fire. Cover the lettuces with the lid (and then finish your martini). Once the lettuces wilt, and the heart is tender (about ten minutes), serve it immediately with bits of diced onion and your favorite caesar dressing. I dine on this every night and never tire of it.

  4. Thank you Iñigo! This is what happens when I don’t hover…

  5. pve says:

    I love salads with nuts and fruits ~ they just look pretty too.
    pve

  6. Architect, an excellent suggestion. I always forget to grill away from the fire though….

  7. zoe borrowdale says:

    Your ‘Riser@ looks very much like the stands used for traditional wedding cakes in the UK
    ZoeB

  8. Hello ZoeB and welcome! I wonder if that’s what it is. Makes a beautiful cake stand.

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