Saturday, May 31, 2008
a light salad
I feel kind of silly posting a recipe for such a simple salad. It’s just that I wasn’t sure what i wanted to do with the fennel bulb that Mrs. B gave me last week, and I didn’t want to indecently heat up the house with the oven running for a gratin or whatever, as the temperatures have been soaring in Atlanta.
I also don’t feel like eating anything overly heavy at lunch during the week. The last couple of months or so, I’ve been eating fish of some sort with a couple of light sides for lunch (I cook the fish the night before and bring it to room temperature before eating it – I cannot eat fish that has been reheated in the microwave, but also don’t want to stink up the office breakroom, as it already is infused with odors of questionable provenance).
So I had this fennel bulb, and I thought of making a fennel and orange salad, but we were out of oranges at the time. The boy suggested I pair it with romaine and parmesan, which we have an abundance of in the fridge, so I did. I dressed it with vinaigrette once I was about to eat, and it made a curiously light but luxurious salad, probably because of the big curls of parmesan that I’d shaved into it. The amount of romaine/fennel/parmesan that you use is really up to the eater. I did half romaine, half fennel (sliced ridiculously paper-thin on our new Benriner mandolin), and several lavishly long strips of parmesan intermixed.
In regards to vinaigrette, I always keep a Lock & Lock ** container of it available in my desk drawer. Everyone has their own recipe for vinaigrette; mine vary depending on what I’m using it for. If I’m not going to use it right away (like when I bring it to work), I don’t put garlic in it, because I don’t want to run the risk of it going rancid. I also like mine a hell of a lot more acidic than most people do. It’s not like you really need a recipe for this; it’s more of a guideline, and then you can run amok with it. Add fresh herbs if you feel like it. There are no rules. Just please don’t buy that bottled crap.
For everyday salads, I use a mix of red wine and sherry vinegars (for the fennel romaine salad I just used red wine). Mix a couple of tablespoons of this in a bowl with a teaspoon or so of Dijon mustard. Add a good pinch of salt and some black pepper. Stir or whisk like crazy. Add minced garlic if you want; the amount is up to you and depends on how much you like garlic. You could substitute this for shallot, but I prefer garlic in my dressing. Slowly whisk or fork in some good olive oil, tasting every now and then until you’ve reached the balance of acid and oil that you prefer, and adjust the seasoning. I like mine just like this; the boy adds a drizzle of honey, because he prefers his dressings a bit sweeter, and sometimes adds some minced herbs. See? How long did that take you to make? about twice as long as it did to reach into the fridge and root around for a bottle of store-bought dressing and gloop it onto your salad.
** Mrs. B and I call these Lock Locks. We found some at the Super H last year and they are the best storage containers ever; and recently we noticed that QVC is schlepping them.