Deck the Halls with Boughs of Salad

christmaspudding.jpgIf you have any Canadian friends who are good cooks, they can sometimes go to the effort to recreate dishes often referred to in Christmas Carols. Its that whole British thing and  “Hey, I’m a Royal Subject, eh?” But after Pfeffernusse, Sugar Cookies, Flaming Plum and Figgy Pudding, parties with lavish cheese plates and the holiday Honeybaked Ham, I get a little toxic.

I start to crave more than your every day palate cleanser. It’s more like a yen for a culinary high colonic. A clean fresh salad is what my body calls for and I’m always amazed when this happens.

When my kids were young and I’d fret about not being able to get them to eat enough vegetables and fruit, or protein, the ‘experts’ would invariably assure me in that annoyingly supercilious New Age Parenting tone that “They’ll just naturally take the nutrition their bodies need.” Yeah, that was some bullshit. Like they’d just select the carrots and celery from a table with the big bowl of Cheetos.

waldorfsalad.jpgI have a disparate array of ‘sauce’ and salad cookbooks and they all possess at least one recipe for a fantastic dressing.  The Los Angeles Times used to have recipes in their Sunday magazine and I often got great stuff there as well.  Then there’s my 1970s Joy Of Cooking.  Waldorf Salad, anyone? 

I rejoice every day that I live in California where we have the best produce to be found.  So, when I make a salad, if I do say so myself, it can be an event if I want it to be. 

I was supposed to go to our Editor’s husband’s low-key, last-minute birthday celebration the other night, but my husband got into a car accident. Although nobody was hurt, thank God, we never made it to the party.  But Alan, this is the salad I would have made for you and when the holiday season is over and you really need to ‘detox’, you might want to make it for yourself. Happy Birthday man.

Green Salad with Anchovy Balsamic Vinaigrette

2 cloves garlic
2/3 cup olive oil
6 canned anchovy fillets, well drained
3 tablespoons minced Italian Parsley
2 tablespoons minced Scallions
¼ cup Balsamic Vinegar (I split this ¼ with red wine vinegar because I don’t like a sweet dressing)
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Salt to taste

Combine the garlic, scallions, parsley and anchovies and whiz them in the Cuisinart.  Scrape down the sides and add the vinegars. Add the pepper and then while the Cuisinart is running, drizzle the olive oil through the chute. Then add your salt. The original recipe says to put the smashed garlic in the olive oil and let it steep for 2 hours, but who has the patience for that?

The lettuces can be a combination of mache, romaine, butter and arugula. I like to add radishes, Jerusalem Artichokes and Avocado. Some cherry tomatoes are good and Persian cucumbers, peeled and with the seeds scraped out.


Laraine Newman is a founding member of The Groundlings Theatre Company and an original cast member of Saturday Night Live.  She lives in her hometown of Los Angeles with her husband and two daughters.