Throughout my childhood there were two items that were ever-present on the family dinner table. Fresh salad, that always wore a dress of homemade vinaigrette, and crusty bread. They were there year round regardless of the evening’s menu. It was a given. The salad would change as the seasons evolved but night after night it took its place as a side dish and would never assume to be the star. Times have changed since then and as society’s consciousness shifts to consuming more fruits and vegetables, the status of salads has been elevated. It now has a prominent place on many restaurant menus and consumers are choosing to make it a meal. Perhaps it is out of necessity given the current state of my kitchen (update to follow) or the steamy weather of the past weeks but salads as a meal have become commonplace in my home. Last night was no exception. Checking the pantry and fridge I composed a symphony of ingredients that was satisfying, rife with flavors and covered all the food groups.
It starts with making the vinaigrette. The ratio I use is 1 part acid (vinegar or lemon juice) to 3 parts good quality extra virgin olive oil. To that I add Dijon mustard, finely chopped shallot or a couple of crushed garlic cloves and season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. I place all of the ingredients in a jar with a tight lid and shake vigorously to emulsify. I like to make enough for several salads so I have it on hand in the refrigerator.
Last night’s salad was composed of
- Mixed greens ( 1 large handful per person)
- 1 can of good quality tuna, broken into chunks
- 2 semi soft cooked eggs, chopped
- Handful of fresh herbs, torn (I used cilantro, parsley, basil but whatever you have)
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Garnish with strips of seasoned sea weed and nasturtiums, optional
Dress with the vinaigrette, being careful not to overdress as greens will become soggy. Use just enough to lightly coat the leaves.
I used mixed greens but any greens you enjoy will do. The same goes for the proteins. Don’t like eggs or tuna? Try chicken, beans, nuts or a dollop of cottage cheese. I recently discovered Greek style (cottage cheese) which is thicker and has a lot of body. The beauty is, there is no recipe, it is what appeals to your palate and what you happen to have on hand. There you have it
……a complete meal in a bowl.
Time now for the update on the kitchen remodel. This week has been a mixed bag of emotion. The good news is the wood workers came and refinished the butcher block counters on the island and above the cupboards along the back wall.
We really wanted to keep this feature of the original design as they are hard maple and were hand-built by the original owners. To our delight, they were able to completely restore it to the original condition. Gorgeous! Wednesday was the appliance delivery. We had assembled the electricians and the carpenters to be sure things went smoothly for the stove and oven installation. Alas, best laid plans. Appliances arrived sans stove. After investigating we were told it was just a paper error and would be straightened out. Two days later after our continued inquiry we discovered the stove had never been ordered from the company. Ugh! We are still waiting to find out how long they anticipate the delivery to take and whether we should begin to look elsewhere.
Meanwhile I continue to use my portable burner for small cooking jobs and am getting quite skilled at using the grill. Tuesday I am expecting the countertop to arrive that will allow for the installation of the sink and dishwasher. Keep your fingers crossed.
I am attempting to stay focused on the completed project and how much fun I am going to have preparing recipes in the newly remodeled heart of our home. Thank God for summer and the access to fresh local ingredients it provides. Use this season to allow your creativity to soar and keep spreading the love one salad or fresh dish at a time. I may not have a stove but the love still flows from my evolving kitchen to yours.