Spring

farmersmarketsaladx-1It’s almost Spring, right? All the beautiful produce will start showing up at the market soon. This salad is a beautiful addition to any table, making a beautiful centerpiece for a stunning buffet.

And flavor...it’s full of it, not to mention it pairs fabulously with a crisp white wine. The salad is a lovely taste of the Mediterranean.

Don’t shy away from the anchovy paste; it gives distinctive flavor without imparting a fishy taste.

This salad is truly a meal in itself and tastes awesome with some crusty bread as a side kick. Did I mention there are potatoes in here. Yes, potatoes in salad with greens. It's a bonus.

I hope you enjoy all these fabulous flavors, it's a winner.

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heartsofromaineGoing out to eat has many pleasures, not the least of which is learning a new trick to add to your own repertoire at home.

Recently at Il Fornaio, during the Lazio Regionale, we had Lattuga Romana alla Griglia or lightly grilled hearts of romaine topped with shaved pecorino pepato and Il Fornaio's creamy house dressing.

The rest of the menu was terrific, but the real stand out was the deceptively simple grilled hearts of romaine.

The dish is easy to make at home. So easy, in fact, you can serve it on the spur of the moment because it takes barely fifteen minutes to prepare.

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common_loon_2.jpgAs the sun rises over the chain of glacier-formed lakes, I revel in the beauty outside my window and the smells and sounds outside my door. It is so beautiful I want to take this moment to tell you about it.  The beavers swim by half an hour before sunrise on their way to work and this doesn’t include freeway commuting, just a gentle swim to their hut nearly a quarter mile away. Then all the birds start their morning songs, the Osprey flies by casting a coppery shadow across my ceiling as the sun starts to rise. The loons are soulfully singing in the near distance and a single loon fishes diligently in the cove. It promises to be an even more beautiful day than yesterday. Spring is springing in all its glory!
 
I ready my kayak and head out onto the glistening water just as the sun peaks over the trees on the opposite shore. A gentle clinging fog hovers just on the water’s surface. I paddle toward the Osprey nest at the mouth of the wetland where wood ducks, frogs and budding water plants congregate. I check the Osprey nest to make sure the baby bird is doing well as both parents fly overhead, yelping a couple of hundred feet above. Paddling along the shore, I am always amazed at how Mother Nature is the greatest landscaper. The rocks and boulders are arranged with care and thought. The water is a deep intense blue, the fog is lifting, the sun is getting warm on my face and the quiet sounds of early morning with no one else around are what endears me to this place in Maine.
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mizunasaladGrowing up "salad" meant a plate with iceberg lettuce, cucumber, carrot, and tomato slices, and bottled Catalina dressing.

Like TV's, salads have come a long way since then.

I remember in the 80's everyone started eating Caesar salad, and romaine bumped iceberg as the lettuce of choice. Then sometime in the '90s peppery salad leaves like arugula and radicchio were clandestinely added to salad plates. Back then people would disparagingly call them "the lettuce that bites you back." Ah, how things have changed.

Then came mesclun, and salad was never the same. Mesculn is a mix of tender, young salad leaves. Its name comes from the French mescla meaning "to mix." Mesclun varies depending on the source but may include arugula, mustard greens, oak leaf, radicchio, red beet greens, and sorrel.

The first time Jeff and I ate fresh mesclun from the farmers' market here in California we were taken aback:

"Wow! This salad has lots of flavor. You can really taste the greens," Jeff said.

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springsalad.jpgSalade Lyonnaise is one of the most popular salads in small French restaurants and bistros. In Lyon, from where the salad originates, it is typically found on the menus of tiny eateries called Bouchons, which specialize in comfort foods such as soups, stews, sausages, cheeses, etc. You can most certainly also find this salad served at Thomas Keller's Bouchon and at many of the restaurants of Lyon native Daniel Boulud. Comfort food knows no boundaries of class. It is simply just that popular that both high and low places offer it. And why wouldn't this salad be comforting? It is made of lettuce, croutons, bacon, and a poached egg perched on top.

Inspired by all the gorgeous lettuces I saw at the Greenmarket on a sunny and warm last Friday, I knew this salad would be the one to make. Not only can it be put together in minutes, but it also features ingredients that most people have in their refrigerator or pantry at all times. Of course not including the fresh frisée, which is traditionally used in this recipe for it's unique texture, crunch, and slight bitterness. This salad makes such an impressive presentation: With the lettuce piled up just right, and the egg set in the center, it looks like a bird's nest. It's a lunch that presses all the comfort buttons, and it also can be a pleasing appetizer at a dinner party.

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