May 18, 2015

Salad Manifesto

Last May I had just arrived home from my trip to Asia when I told Mark I was leaving again to spend a week volunteering on an herb farm. But you just got home! he said (completely fairly; I'd been away for 4 months). My odd but honest response? I need to dig in the dirt.

Spring is a struggle for me; when I feel ungrounded I find it helpful to actually spend time with the ground—planting things, moving dirt around, uncovering life.

We had just gotten engaged, and I had just barely unpacked three suitcases full of mortar and pestles, decorative Thai silks and every spice southeast Asia had to offer, when I drove south to work with a woman named Eva on her herb farm. It was only a week, but Eva and her farm brought me back to center. I pulled weeds, shaped beds, spread hay, thinned lettuces, watered greenhouses, hauled wheelbarrows, found ticks in my socks, got blisters, moved rocks, planted potatoes and even ate a fried seagull egg but most of all I ate salad. A LOT OF AMAZING SALAD.


Farmer Eva taught me the glories contained in a good salad, with lots of lively herbs, and I am so grateful. Even now, without an incredible garden to pick from, I can pull together a salad quickly and easily remembering her motto: You can never combine too many herbs and greens.

Maybe it's the fact that I'm now just six weeks away from fitting into a hand-sewn wedding dress (by my amazing mother) that's driven me salad-crazy; or maybe it's the fact that New England has finally transformed from a white snow castle into a green and edible wonderland. But health and seasons aside, making and eating salad is a rejuvenating activity—one that I plan to practice far into the future. 


My 2015 SALAD MANIFESTO:

  1. Choose vegetables you like.
  2. Prepare ahead! Peel, chop and cook as many vegetables & store 'em in the fridge.
  3. Have plenty of lemons on hand for simple lemon & olive oil vinaigrette. So fresh!
  4. Use great olive oil.
  5. Use more herbs than you think necessary.
  6. Remember that warm salads are a thing (especially with grains.)
  7. Toss the salad gently.
  8. Add spices for texture and flavor.
  9. Remember that salad is like love; it's only as good as you make it.
  10. Eat beautiful salad every day.

Jars of salad-ready vegetables to store in the fridge.

Asparagus & egg salad

Tamar Adler, author of An Everlasting Meal, uses the "prepare ahead" method to have plenty of vegetables on hand for every meal. Her method:

"Each week I buy whole bunches of the leafiest, stemmiest vegetables I can find. Then I scrub off the dirt, trim off their leaves, cut off their stems, peel what needs peeling, and cook them all at once. By the time I've finished, I've drawn a map of the week's meals..."

       It's all about that bit of effort spent once a week in breaking down the vegetables and cooking them (boiling, roasting, etc) so they are ready to go. If salad making is an art, then having the ingredients prepped and ready is like having the paint on your palate. From there it's just a colorful creation that follows Michael Pollan's mantra: "Eat food. Mostly plants. Not too much."

            What is your favorite salad?

2 comments:

  1. I want to see your wedding dress! My salad garden is going bonkers right now. All I'm eating is kale apple walnut and cheddar.

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    1. Thanks for the suggestion - that sounds delicious! I'll have to try that combo. And i'll send you a photo of the dress! Eeeek!! Not long now!!

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