Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Two Salads: One Old, One New

Its finally summer and salad season is upon us.  We've been eating a ton of them around here.  Although I like almost any salad, my favorites are the ones with a ton of different ingredients.  The lettuce is just there as building block for whatever else you happen to have on hand. 

The salad above on the left is one my family has been making the forever.  I dreamed about it when I was away at school eating dorm food.  It starts with chopped romaine and any other ingredients I find in my fridge that I can chop and throw in.  In this case it happened to be scallions, red pepper, tomato, celery and cheddar cheese.

What really makes this salad special is the dressing: homemade balsamic vinaigrette with loads of garlic.  I remember when I was little my mom dictating the ingredients to me.  It was probably the first recipe I could make without directions (soon to be followed by the Toll House chocolate chip cookie recipe).  Its a pretty potent dressing, but the hardy crunchy romaine stands up to it well.  It goes with almost any meal, but on this occasion we ate this salad with seared hanger steak and potatoes.

The second salad is more nontraditional than the first.  Though also delicious, you probably wouldn't make it twice a week.  It is loosely based on this recipe I found on epicurious, but once again I only used what I had.  Instead of fava beans, I used fresh peas cooked quickly in boiling water.  For the pecorino, I used a sharp salty cheddar.  I omitted the radishes and added toasted walnuts.   I kept the mint and parsley, which I think are pretty key for the unique flavor of this salad, but I'm sure other substitutions could be made.

Because the ingredients themselves were very flavorful, I only used a simple lemon vinaigrette.  We ate it with roasted chicken pieces and brown rice.  The best part of the meal was mixing the three together, letting rice absorb the salad dressing and the chicken drippings mix with the vegetables.

If you should decide to make either of these salads, please just use these recipes as a jumping point.  They are not meant to be followed exactly, but to offer ideas to start with.  Don't go buy the one thing you're missing, just replace it with something you do have.  Fresh ingredients and a good homemade dressing are the keys.

Balsamic Vinaigrette

5 tbs. olive oil
2 tbs. balsamic vinager
1 large glove of garlic, crushed or minced very finely
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/tsp. salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste

1. Mix all the ingredients in a bowl.  Toss with salad when ready to serve.

Pea, Mint and Parsley Salad

Enough salad greens for 4 people
1/2 c. roughly chopped fresh mint
1/2 c. roughly chopped fresh parsely
3 stalks of celery, chopped with leaves
1/2 c. cooked peas
1/4 of a red onion, thinly sliced
1/3 c. toasted walnuts
1/3 c. crumbled cheddar
3 tbs. olive oil
2 tbs. lemon juice

1. Mix greens, mint, parsley, celery, onion, walnuts and cheddar in a serving bowl.  Put in the fridge until ready to use.

2. Make the dressing by whisking the oil, lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste.

3. When ready to serve, pour the dressing on the salad and toss.


  1. This recipe is making me hungry and it's only ten in the morning!

  2. Call me old fashioned, but I still like to add a tsp. of Grey Poupon to the balsamic vinaigrette. Cate K, your blog is truly fantastic!

  3. Thanks Bim! For some reason I always forget about mustard in my dressings. I'll have to add it next time.