Back to Our Salad Days
My former mentor at Psychology Today magazine, Hara Estroff Marano, chose to highlight salad dressings in the current issue. (Why does a psych publication have a recipe section? No idea, but they are usually healthy, simple and good.) She points out that the right oil helps the body absorb all the benefits of vegetables and describes dressing as the critical choice for your next salad treat.
Treat? Salads have become so familiar, almost obligatory, that their potential pleasure is often snowed out in a blizzard of mayo or, worse, suffered through dry and parched under the glare of lemon.
Perhaps it would help to remember that salads were, for a time, forbidden. They were the pork rinds, trans fats and Twinkies of the Middle Ages -- particularly in England.
Doctors advised meat and starch diets, coupled with strong warnings against salads. It was believed that fresh greens would spoil in the belly and anyone who could afford to avoid them, should.
So the savages ate sorrel while the well-to-do ate stale crust. This was, of course, after the wisdom of the Ancient Greeks and Romans, avid salad-chompers, had been lost.
To get in touch with my inner savage (or Plato?), I turn to the below standby. Yesterday, I used frisee and Italian arugula from Rexcroft Farm in Athens, NY, which, thanks to their greenhouse and hydroponic techniques, have lettuce all year long. As for the dressing, don’t forget the salt – it’s the ingredient that gives salad its name.
4 cups any fresh lettuce
¼ cup pine nuts or any nut that’s handy (toasted)
shaved hard cheese to taste (parm is perfect)
Dressing – adapted from the Psychology Today recipe mentioned above
¼ cup Olive oil
2 Tbs Vinegar
1/2 Tbs Zest*
½ tsp Ground mustard powder
½ tsp sugar
Salt and pepper to taste.
Mix and toss with salad greens. Top with nuts and cheese.
*I used Buddha hand – a beautiful and creepy fruit that grabbed me by the elbow as I was shopping on a non-farmer market day. Lemon or orange would work just as well.
Picture by Andreja Donko