After so many years of never being completely satisfied with my at-home salads, it occurred to me that I should try to mimic the salad that I always order when we eat at the pub up the street. They call it a Brewer’s Salad but I’ve noticed the same general formula other places, and I think it would fall into a broad “northwest salad” category. Mixed greens, toasted hazelnuts, red onion, fruity vinaigrette, crumbled blue cheese. I’m generally not fond of blue cheese, but in this context it works for me. Likewise, the vinaigrette at the pub is a raspberry emulsion and even though raspberries practically grow like weeds up here, I do not like the flavor of them. But, again. In this context it works. (also in the context of this regional pub chain’s raspberry infused beer. like Summer in a pint glass.) (also, my hesitation toward raspberries should not be confused with my strong enthusiasm about other berries, including blackberries which absolutely do grow as an invasive weed up here and are the bane of many farms, gardens, and yards.)
This year, I do not have any tender salad greens growing in my garden. I have spinach, which I will eat in a salad, but I prefer to cook with it or toss it in a smoothie. But, this last week marked our first veggie pick-up from our CSA. And, like every week, our share included a big bag of delicious salad mix. I was so excited to get that bag of salad greens and try to replicate the salad I love eating, instead of making yet another humdrum plop of greens and dressing to eat alongside something else. You’d think after 13 years of being a committed vegetarian, I’d have perfected the whole Big Filling Dinner Salad thing, but no.
I started with blending up a quick vinaigrette, using my basic foundation, which is 1/2 C. virgin olive oil and 3 tablespoons vinegar (in this case, I used an excellent balsamic). Because, like I said, I’m not wild about raspberries, and didn’t have any around anyway, I used blueberries. We finished up the last of our local frozen berries a few weeks ago, and I’ve been supplementing with store bought frozen since then. We have a row of 21 blueberry plants in our front yard that I am SO EXCITED about this year. It’s amazing how much they’ve grown since we planted them two (0r three?) years ago. We’re going to get a lot of berries this year! But back to the dressing. To the oil and vinegar mix, I added 2 heaping tablespoons of (tiny, wild) frozen blueberries, a tablespoon of granulated sweetener, and a pinch of salt. Blend til smooth. I tossed some of that over the greens and then sliced some green garlic, which was also in our CSA share this week. I don’t buy blue cheese, have never bought blue cheese, but I DO buy feta (only one kind, though. Pastures of Eden, imported from Israel, thanks Trader Joe’s). I crumbled some of the feta in, and added some toasted slivered almonds I had (even as I think hazelnuts would be better) and let it sit in the fridge for an hour or so. And what do you know? I did it! I made myself a huge dinner salad which was every bit as delicious as the (overpriced) salad I buy up the street. And the next night, I made it again! And the next night, I ran out of salad greens. wah wah. (also, it’s not my way to tediously describe the food I ate to other people. which is why when my daughter just asked me what I was doing, I told her and then read this paragraph to her doing my best Julia Child. we laughed.)
I’m looking forward to eating a lot of salads this summer. I take back what I said about warm summer weather happening here, though. It was cool and cloudy all weekend and I’m not even sure we’ll get out of the 50s this coming week. I might prefer it a bit warmer, but salad greens will flourish!
Tonight, I made pizza, like I do. I’ve been making pizza on Sunday nights for a whole lot of years. It’s our thing. I did not have any salad, but you can bet I piled a lot of greens on our pie(s). I have more to write about adaptive pizza making, but that veers off into the direction of this other thing I’ve been experimenting with, and I’m not up to blogging about that tonight. Soon.
The thing that was remarkable about tonight’s dinner was that baby Uly was sitting at the table in a highchair! First time! He was so delighted to be there in his own chair, instead of on a lap or in an arm. He isn’t quite sitting independently yet; I can sit him down and he’ll only hold on for a few seconds before he falls over, slowly. He has the core strength, when we put him in his bouncy seat or across our lap, he’s always straining his belly muscles to sit up. But I think strength and purpose haven’t quite coincided yet to create actual unassisted sitting. It occurred to me to just see what would happen with the highchair (the same highchair my other kids have used, too. if a simple plastic chair from IKEA can be an heirloom, I’m holding onto it for the grandkids) and I’m so glad I did. Having the back of the chair to lean against kept him perfectly upright and comfortable while we ate. He loved it. We loved it. Win!
I don’t have a picture of Ulysses in the highchair uploaded yet, but I do have a picture (which you may have seen on instagram already) of his regular wide post-nap smile. He has the occasional grouchy re-entry to waking life, but he nearly always wakes up just like this. He is a wonder, how sweet and happy he is.