I know I am speaking too soon, even in the South, but on a day like today, I can’t help but feel that Spring has arrived for good. Sunshine, 70 degrees and blooming daffodils will do that to you.
As soon as it starts getting warmer around here, I immediately start craving lighter foods. I pulled out the vitamix and made a smoothie for the boys today after months of using it to make hot soups. And I wanted a salad for dinner in place of our usual wintertime roasted veggies.
I thought I would share this recipe with you all. It was the first salad I ever learned to make. Sure, I already knew how to chop up a bunch of lettuce, throw some diced carrots on the top and serve it with a bottle of ranch dressing, but a specific salad recipe? That was new to me at age 18, and what makes this salad special was that I learned to make it in France, from a genuine French woman.
There are lots of golden memories floating around the making of this salad. When my friends and I lived in southern France, we often visited our missionary friends on Sunday afternoons for dinner. It always seemed to be a glorious sunny day with the French doors opening onto the terrace, letting in a light breeze that carried with it the scent of wild thyme and rosemary. Madame B would be in the kitchen with a huge olive-wood salad bowl in front of her. As I watched, she would cut open a big clove of garlic and rub the whole interior of the bowl with it. Then in the bottom, she would mix her dressing, asking one of her children to run find some fresh thyme in the yard outside to sprinkle on top.
She would toss all the ingredients together and serve it with roasted lamb, or whatever else was sizzling in the oven that day, and of course, fresh baguette. All of her food was good, but this salad- it was fresh and bright and garlicky and almost rich, as far as salads go. I fell in love and insisted she give me the recipe. And now I give it to you.
Here’s what you need for the salad.
And this is for the dressing. So easy!
(that’s balsamic vinegar- sorry it’s so blurry. And any dijon style mustard will do.)
Begin by either rubbing a garlic clove around your bowl, or smashing a couple cloves and throwing them in the bottom. We like things garlicky around here.
Then the dressing is very simple. Depending on how big your salad is going to be, use the following ratio-
3 parts olive oil
`1 part balsamic vinegar
1 part mustard
This is enough for a moderate amount of lettuce- say- two hearts of romaine. I use a Tablespoon as a “part”.
Mix this in the bottom of your bowl with a good pinch of salt, pepper and thyme if you have it.
That’s it for the dressing.
Now dice up an avocado.
And a couple of tomatoes. Throw those in the bottom of the bowl as well.
Then just chop up your lettuce (again, I used a couple of hearts of romaine).
Toss it up, and voila!
It’s great as a side, but sometimes I add some diced chicken and or bacon, for a full meal.
Enjoy, and here’s hoping spring is here to stay. And for those still buried in snow, remember- spring will come again!