A few weeks ago, I went to a restaurant planning to get some happy hour snacks to go with some wine. I wasn't planning on eating dinner.
My friend and I got ourselves settled at the bar to wait for the others who would join us. It was fairly early, so there was only one other person at the bar. She waxed euphoric over the salad.
Yes, the salad. She had a bottle of wine and some other goodies--but it was the salad that made her so deliriously happy.
So, of course, I had to order it--plus it sounded good: grilled peaches, prosciutto, goat cheese, on top of salad greens with a honey lemon vinaigrette. Were there nuts on the salad?
For days, I wanted to go back--but the salad was a special, so I doubted I could get it again. But how hard could it be to make? So the other day, I stopped at the grocery store.
I got nectarines, which I like better than peaches. I added some cherry tomatoes. I got chopped romaine lettuce, because it was on sale. I got a log of goat cheese and prosciutto. You can mix it all in the proportions that you like.
For the vinaigrette, I used 3 lemons, but it was almost too tart. I used 4 T. of honey. I mixed in a cup of good olive oil. It still didn't taste quite right--too tart. So I added some balsamic vinaigrette and some ginger preserves. I just kept mixing in small amounts until I got it close. It still wasn't as good as the restaurant version.
But then I let it sit in the fridge for a week--it got so much better. I made another version of the salad. When I didn't have grilled peaches, I made the salad with chickpeas--not quite as good, but more protein to be sure. I love the mix of salt and sweet.
I think I'll explore the whole summer creating salads that celebrate that mix.
This past week, I've been pouring the vinaigrette on non-salads too. I had a can of chickpeas that marinated in the vinaigrette--delicious mixed with goat cheese. I also poured it over a leftover pasta with tomatoes and olives pantry kind of meal that I put together when I was out of most fresh foods--much tastier than the original pasta meal with parmesan cheese that I first served.
I liked the vinaigrette so much that I made another jar full. I used 2 lemons this time. It was almost not tart enough.
In my younger days, when I had lots of unstructured time and a kitchen (think grad school), I kept a variety of sauces and vinaigrettes on hand. I had forgotten how transformative they are.
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