I have been enjoying the lettuce salad in all its wonderful variations this past week. I’m not referring so much to what I call the ubiquitous "American" salad, you know the one I’m talking about: iceberg lettuce, the obligatory hard tasteless tomato, grated carrot, two large red onion rings, and if you unlucky, four cucumber slices. And don’t forget the crunchy, teeth shattering croutons.
No, today I am going to wax eloquent about the fresh garden salad. With hand picked lettuce from the garden - buttercrunch and mesclun mix in my case. I like to use both types in my salads, or just one variety if that’s all I’ve washed up. And washing that garden lettuce is uber important! There very little more unappetizing than finding some small slimy thing hidden between leaves on your plate.
And a salad just isn’t a salad with out at least a couple toppings. If I’m not following a specific recipe (Blueberry, Blue Cheese, and Spicy Pecan Salad or the Nicoise Salad) I like to experiment with what I have on hand. I just read recently in my local "Taste" section of the newspaper that a salad should have no more than five toppings otherwise all the flavors just overwhelm each other. Here are some combinations I’ve tried lately:
- Parmesan cheese slices (sliced very thin with a vegetable peeler) and raspberries.
- Egg, beef tenderloin, radish, Parmesan cheese and blueberries
- Radish, egg, baby zucchini
- Goat cheese, raspberries and radish
The blueberries, radish, raspberries and zucchini were all from my garden. The beef tenderloin was a leftover from a dinner with my folks and I just love a hard boiled eggs.
And to top off these delectable delicacies I have been turning toward the very simple vinaigrette. I had some leftover maple vinaigrette from the blueberry and blue cheese salad, and some leftover mustard vinaigrette from the Nicoise Salad. For something different I’ve tried and enjoyed Extra Virgin Olive Oil with Raspberry vinegar, with white balsamic, and with red wine vinegar. All are refreshing with their own nuances.
Lastly, I like to add a pinch of sea salt and fresh ground pepper to my salads. Both make the ingredients really pop with flavor.
The varieties and combinations are endless, so find so some fresh lettuce, see what’s in the fridge and enjoy with a chunk of crusty bread.