Springtime Salad on a Winter Day

I’m beginning to believe that the weather in this town is controlled by some kind of evil genius.

One day the high will be over 80, then next, below 50.  It’s mid-May and instead of having spring we’re having alternate summer and winter.  Yesterday, on a blindingly sunny day, I had to wear two sweaters and a flannel shirt to work in the backyard garden.  Aside from all other annoyance about this sweltering frigidity (almost Freudian, that phrase), it’s wreaking havoc on my meal planning.

The day I went grocery shopping, it was extremely warm.  With visions of cool meals on the back patio in my head, I bought various lettuces, herbs, and tender salad vegetables.  By the time I came to use those ingredients, it was freezing outside.  With no other choice, I made salads anyway.

I plucked the romaine lettuce out of the fridge, along with some cilantro, some deli ham and a jar of pepperoncinis.  I have a weakness for pickles of any kind, and spicy things are a life-long (at least a two thirds of my life-long) favorite.  Pepperoncini make their way into many of my salads.

Remembering a recipe I’d seen the other month for a salad dressing made of avocado, I took two of the things out of their ripening bag on the counter (full disclosure: it is a paper lunch bag with an apple in it) and set to work.  I peeled and pitted one avocado and put it in the food processor along with nearly an entire bunch of cilantro, a shallot, and some garlic.  I added in a squirt of lemon juice (that is what had struck me about the salad dressing recipe–it used lemon juice with avocados, instead of the more usual lime juice) and a glug of oil, put on the lid, and blended it up.  It was a little thick, but I like stiff, thick dressings, especially on crunchy lettuce like romaine. 

I poured equal portions of the dressing into our two enormous salad bowls, then topped it with chopped romaine (one heart per person), chopped ham, stemmed pepperoncinis and the second avocado, cubed.  I had, of course, forgotten to add salt (a perpetual problem), so I crushed some kosher salt over all, ground on some pepper, and then tossed the salads. 

It was light and cool and delicious.  The dressing coated the leaves substantially, but not heavily, and the crunch of the lettuce kept it from being too unctuous, in the same way that the mild tang of the pepperoncini cut through the mellow sweetness of the ham.  Teacherman, who has a furnace burning inside of him, thought it was the most perfect lunch imaginable.  I thought it was tasty, too, but I might have wished for something slightly less chilly.   I buttoned up my overshirt, but I also scraped the bowl.

Published in: on May 15, 2007 at 5:56 pm  Leave a Comment  

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