Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Salad days

The arugula and lettuce in my garden have been cooperating nicely/growing at an insane rate and we are up to our ears in fresh leafy greens, far too many greens to be consumed with a nightly side salad (the spinach, however, has been uncooperative. Most of the seeds didn't germinate.)

The record breaking heat this past weekend gave us the perfect excuse to usher in Salad Days. I have mentioned before that I am a great fan of the main course salad, the kind of salad you find in France listed as a Salade Compose. Top some great vegetables with a protein source and a good dressing and you have my definition of bliss-on-a-plate. Yes, I often crave this more than chocolate.

Last week I made a version of a Nicoise salad--lots of greens, cucumber, hard boiled egg, olives, radishes and blanched green beans topped by a grilled piece of albacore tuna then drizzled with a garlic red wine vinaigrette. And Monday we had (pictured above) a Vietnamese style salad with fresh mango, grilled chicken, thin rice noodles, peanuts, mint, cilantro, vidallia onion and blanched green beans topping the greens/radishes/cucumber pile; the dressing was a nuoc cham sort of concoction (I didn't have quite enough lime juice so I added a splash of rice wine vinegar).

The nicest thing about these salads is the flexibility--the Nicoise lacked potatoes and tomatoes (no potatoes in the house, no worthy tomatoes available yet). The Vietnamese salad lacked fresh basil and shallots and the mango probably shouldn't have been there. Some asparagus or sugar snap peas would have been terrific in either salad. Roasted beets would have been great to add to the Nicoise. But it didn't matter because these salads cry out for improvisation.

My next attempt to deal with the onslaught of arugula (I picked another entire shopping bag full of the stuff yesterday--yikes!) comes tonight. I have a recipe for tagliatelle with creme fraiche and arugula that looks to be a good way to use a sizeable quantity of arugula without having to eat a salad as big as a pony. Report on the success (or failure) of said dish will be coming soon.


Anonymous said...

I love arugula! It is so divine on sandwiches!

Edward Vielmetti said...

If you aren't blessed with backyard abundance like Kate, the Farmer's Market is full of good greens this time of year. We like the Asian baby salad greens mix from Brines Farm.