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Sunday, May 18, 2014

Those ubiquitous green salads

For most of my life, I considered a green salad an essential ingredient of a meal, and I made them the way my mom did: put chopped tomatoes, scallions, maybe red onion, whatever else in the bottom of a wooden bowel (always unfinished wood), season with salt, pepper, garlic, whatever and toss. Mom was creative--sometimes there's be avocado, frequently blue cheese, sometimes parmesan for variety; she went through one spell of using smoked salt until I think we both overdid it. But you put the lettuce (preferably home-grown) in at the last minute and tossed it with vinaigrette--a standard homemade dressing but in those days we didn't use olive oil--always Mazola, which she claimed was healthy. We never had head lettuce, let alone a wedge with Thousand Island (never saw that in my house though occasionally I like it now as a topping on an open-faced sandwich--but I make my own--never comes out that same way twice).
In recent years I've grown tired of the usual tossed salad and stopped fixing them. But three salads remain favorites:

The first is wilted lettuce, for which you need very fresh leaf lettuce. Fry some bacon (maybe two pieces per person), drain and reserve grease. Heat together about equal parts bacon grease and cider vinegar; just before serving, pour hot mixture over the greens (not so much that you drown them) and crumble bacon over it.

The second salad is Jordan's to make whenever I cook dinner and salad is on the menu. Rub a wooden bowl thoroughly with a cut garlic clove; then with salt, pepper, and dry mustard (Jordan sometimes has a heavy hand and gets the dressing a bit stout); pour some vinegar in the bottom of the bowl--and here I'm lost for measurements. Not too much, because you'll need to add 1/3 again that much olive oil--if you end up with too much dressing, refrigerate; it keeps. Crumble blue cheese into vinegar and whisk with a fork until it's a fairly smooth mixture. Add olive oil and whisk again. This can be done a bit ahead but not too far because you don't want that good wooden bowl to soak up all your dressing. Tear lettuce leaves and toss just before serving. I suppose you could add croutons--we never do since Jordan is perpetually on a no-carb diet.

And the third: an overnight salad I have in the fridge right now. I get the recipe from a neighbor who
got it from a friend, but I feel like it's mine now since I've made it several times. Today I made it early this morning, so by supper it will have been refrigerated overnight. This is the salad before tossing.
You need:

3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
9 Tbsp. olive oil
6 green onions, chopped
1 tsp. seasoned salt (I used regular salt)
4-6 cloves garlic, minced--I mashed four because I don't like finding little bits of garlic in my mouth, and I don't mince well
2 avocados, peeled and cut into chunks
I head romaine
3/4 c. grated Parmesan

Use a 9x13 glass baking dish (never metal or aluminum), combine lemon juice, oil, onions, salt and garlic. Add avocado chunks and stir until all is coated well. Tear romaine and layer on top of mixture. Cover with Parmesan. DO NOT STIR AT THIS POINT.
Seal tightly with plastic wrap--I used two layers and then a layer of foil--and refrigerate. Stir just before serving. Left is the salad on a pate after tossing, with meatloaf and corn casserole.

And these days, I kind of like a wedge of head lettuce, with a blue cheese/tomato/bacon dressing. But it's not as healthy as the salads above. Okay, maybe wilted lettuce isn't too healthy.

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