Wednesday, May 16, 2012

My favorite spring salad

My favorite spring salad is very light- just delicate young lettuce leaves thinned from the garden with a simple dressing.

Lettuce is so easy to grow-just plant seeds more densely than the package directs-all the seeds can go into a 6 foot row. Keep the soil wet until the seeds sprout, then water every day or 2. Wait a month or so until the seedlings are crowded, and thin them by cutting or breaking the leaves near the base. You'll get enough for a salad for 2 every few days for a while.

As soon as you pick the lettuce, or bring it home from the store, wash it by immersing it in a large bowl of cold water. Let it drain and spin it in a lettuce spinner, or just put the greens into a pillow case and spin it in big circles, outside where the droplets coming out of the case won't bother anyone. Wrap the washed greens in a towel and store in a plastic bag in the fridge.

Here's the easy part. Using the best oil and vinegar make dressing the lettuce simple. Buy some La Tourangelle roasted walnut oil-you'll find it in quite a few supermarkets, especially yuppie ones. Store it in the fridge so that the super-healthy omega-3 fats in the walnut oil don't go bad from air and heat. Toss the lettuce with just enough oil to barely coat the leaves.

Here's the tricky part. I've recently fallen in love with a balsamic vinegar that isn't as easy to find as the roasted walnut oil. However, it's worth searching out, because with these 2 ingredients, you have the most amazing and healthy salad dressing.

Leonardi Aceto Balsamico di Modena IGP, with a gold foil cap: it comes in a square 8.45 oz bottle and is more like a syrup than a vinegar. The walnut oil is expensive, but this is outrageous. Buy it anyway- this lasts forever and is concentrated and valuable. My first bottle was given to me as a gift (thank you, thank you) and the second I bought at Bi-Rite Market in San Francisco on 18th St.
Toss the lettuce with a little vinegar and a little salt until it tastes right. Enjoy.

(This goes perfectly with coppa, a thinly sliced cured pork (a wonderful one comes from El Salchichero in Santa Cruz, CA) and a spinach-stuffed Afghan bread, if you are so lucky.)

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