Without the slightest bit of lady façade tinting this statement with falsity, I want to aver that I love a good salad. I really, truly do. I like messy "kitchen sink" salads, what I like to call compost salads. Those are the sorts crafted by tossing in a deep bowl (spills are annoying), all manner of vegetal flotsam found in your crisper drawers with any grains, nuts, fruits, meats, cheeses and dressing you fancy and then flipping the result onto a plate or into a generously-sized bowl (see above parenthetical note for the why). Serve with warm bread if you like, perhaps some hummus or dipping oil too. Enjoy.
I also appreciate a composed salad though I don't often make them just for me because really, who has the time? As well, I want to enjoy my food and, especially at lunchtime for the love, if making it requires too much in the way of preciousness or crafting, the pleasure-factor is diminished. Not always, but you get my drift.
I like pasta salads and grain-based salads, fruit salads and warm salads. I like leftover salad too, unless you start with the wrong sort of lettuce in which case the leftovers aren't nicely marinated but instead remind me too much of the stems of flowers that have been in a vase for a week: slimy, smelly, yuk.
And I enjoy experimenting with the ways various ingredients can come together in salad form.
Today, I craved a fresh, unique salad. I'm -gasp- the slightest bit tired of tomatoes and regular old lettuce. So I poked around and found half a head of the always-beauitful Savoy cabbage; two heads of sweet Belgian endive which I adore for its crunchy, vaguely bitter, delicate flavor; some Persian cucumbers; and some scuppernong grapes*. I immediately chose all of that plus some Parmesan, a Meyer lemon, walnut oil and fresh walnuts which I immediately toasted so that they could cool while I made the salad.
I adore cabbage but I wanted it to be part of the team here. As such, I sliced it into paper-thin slivers to match rather than overwhelm the texture and taste of the endive. I didn't peel the cucs because A) peel = fiber and other good stuff, and B) I like texture and color and cuc peel adds both. I quartered the grapes both because they are large and I wanted to do the seeding work in advance of indulging in this lovely salad-to-be.
The dressing was made by the simple whisking together of two tablespoons of walnut oil, the juice of half that Meyer lemon, salt and freshly ground pepper. Using a vegetable peeler, I shaved Parmesan feathers over the top, dressed the salad and let it sit for a few minutes so the flavors could diffuse and marry. This hit the spot completely!
*Scuppernongs are a large variety of the muscadine, a grape that has a thicker-than-usual skin, three to four seeds, hails from the southern US and is worth every bit of the effort required to -oh my!- eat a grape with seeds. Scuppernongs (and muscadines) aren't available all year but are in season now. Try some! You won't be sorry!
To read more about scuppernongs (because really, isn't it fun to say their name?), read this Garden & Gun article, if only for the stunning photo.