It’s been a busy week here with work, voluntary stuff after work, and dinner with friends. Tuesday evening N and I went to a talk by Guy Watson at Hullabaloo Cafe – we had slow roasted pork for tea and a really enjoyable evening. He led a great talk about organic growing, and people offered up some interesting questions that sparked a good debate. Plus we came away with a freebie bag of gorgeous looking broccoli.
With my garden overflowing with lettuce in multiple forms, I thought it only right to dedicate a post to it entirely. What follows is my way of preparing a good green salad, from tender leaf plucked from the garden to delicious bowl of goodness.
The key to a good green salad is the leaves themselves. When you’ve eaten lettuce picked only seconds before from the place it was growing, you will never look at bagged supermarket salad in the same way. It just doesn’t compare. There is none of that slightly chemical odour as you open the bag, even if it claims it’s only been washed in ‘spring water’. There are no slightly limp mushy bits that collect at the bottom. Freshly picked leaves are pert and crisp, and full of insense flavour.
If the weather has been dry and you are lucky enough to have escaped the dratted green fly, you most likely will be able to pluck your leaves and pop them straight into your serving bowl. If, however, it has rained recently and earth has splattered your leaves, or if like me you find the odd gang of aphids hiding amongst the folds of your lettuce, it is probably necessary to rinse your leaves. We have recently invested in a rather ‘cool’ salad spinner, which is really too trendy and slightly out of place in our cosy cottage. It is, however, a fantastic piece of gadgetry.
So to begin with, I insist on carefully picking through each leaf, searching for bugs and carefully washing each leaf before placing them into the salad spinner basket – N is much more casual about this stage of salad making much to my distress. I give them a good whiz, before draining off the water, and rinsing the whole basket of leaves again and giving them another whiz in the spinner. I drain any water out again, and give the leaves a final spin to get them really dry. And that’s the leaf preparation done.
As for my salad dressing of choice, it tends to fall to the same line up of ingredients: lemon juice, white wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, honey/agave syrup, salt, pepper and olive oil. You may have realised by now that I am not one for measuring – I favour tasting and instict over exact amounts, so please bear with me as I try and describe how much of what to add!
My favourite salad dressing recipe
Into a clean jam jar (one with a lid) I add a good squeeze of lemon juice and an equal amount of white wine vinegar. Then I add around a teaspoon of Dijon mustard and a teaspoon of honey/agave syrup (at the moment I am favouring the agave syrup – which is made from a cactus – as it has a lighter, cleaner taste whereas honey often is too sweet and overpowering). To this I add a good pinch or two of salt and a good grinding of black pepper. Finally I top it all up with olive oil – I tend to work on the general salad dressing notion of more oil than vinegar, so it’s usually around 1/3 vinegar and lemon juice and 2/3 oil. Screw on the lid and give it a good shake. It should be a very pale yellow colour and a slightly creamy consistency. The best bet is to try it – if you like the taste great, if not, adjust the seasoning – a little more salt, a dab more Dijon, etc, until it taste nice.
Pop your lovingly prepared salad into a serving bowl and drizzle over your dressing. Any leftover dressing will keep well in the jar in the fridge.