Gifted. I am lucky in my new hometown to live near so many agricultural farms. I am also lucky to have a friend who knows the farmers. I received a bunch of fresh water spinach and set out for a simple Little Jewel– Water Spinach with Sweet Soy Glaze. Continue reading Water Spinach with Sweet Soy Glaze
“The peas are green! Spring has begun! Long live Venice!” The April 25th Venice tradition is for the Doge (the Chief Magistrate) to taste a spoonful of the city’s most famous dish, Risi e bisi, in public to annunciate the start the Feast of Saint Mark. Risi e bisi (Rice with Peas) marks the start of spring – join Bijouxs in celebrating this little jewel of dish. Continue reading Risi e bisi (Rice with Peas)
Yes, small victories count. Planting a small crop of lettuce provides salads for weeks, then sow more seeds and voila, lettuce appears. The simple Mesclun mixed variety is my favorite and produced this simply beautiful Victory Garden Salad a little jewel from the garden.
VICTORY GARDEN SALAD
Celebrate, a small victory in my garden. As always, starting with the freshest most healthy ingredients are keys to a great salad. Now, residing in a tiny cottage in the central coast, life has changed. No more sprawling garden, space in my yard is a premium. I have three small areas to grow my garden favorites. Since space is so limited I have narrowed it down to a few of my favorites. First on my list is growing lettuce for salads, from which I create a multitude of dishes, much more than just salads. For years I have been growing mesclun greens mix.
Mesclun is a Provençal word that describes a mix of tender salad greens and many times includes herbs. The name comes from “mesclular” which is a mixture, which describes this mix of lettuce, also sold as spring mix. It is frequently served in restaurants and widely available in the supermarkets. However, growing your own lettuce is easy and very rewarding. When you feel like a salad just go out and clip some fresh greens, no waste and many of varieties are “cut and come again” meaning if you clip the leaves more new leaves appear. Almost anyone can have a small victory garden, you can grow this lettuce in a 12”inch pot, perfect for apartment dwellers. A volunteer nasturtium joined the party.
Spring mix greens are in every store now. They are very tender and must be handled with care. Also, they tend to have a short life in the refrigerator, another reason to grow your own greens. In looking for a salad recipe the first chef to really feature these greens was Alice Waters, from her I take my lead.
Gently wash greens and place in a salad spinner then roll them loosely in a clean kitchen towel and store in the refrigerator until you are ready to use. They are best used the same day, but can usually survive overnight, but not much longer.
My favorite dressing is French, made directly in a wooden salad bowl, then topped with the greens and brought to the table, ready to toss and serve. This dressing is my everyday dressing, my go-to in the kitchen. This real French dressing is simply made by place a small clove of garlic in a wooden salad bowl, with a pinch of salt and pepper and mashed into a paste using a wooden spoon. Dijon, red wine vinegar are added and mixed, then olive oil is whisked by hand until the dressing comes together. Voila, a perfect salad.