Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Married to the Cobb

Hethyr:  I’m so giddy at this time of year about all of the wonderful fresh fruits and veggies after the “drought” of the last few months of winter and the first of spring.  A little too giddy, maybe… I have too many things about which I want to write!  Do I write about the amazing Cobb-style salad with ancho honey mustard vinaigrette that we devoured the other night?  Or do I write about my first experience making raw butter (which I then flavored with chipotle chiles in adobo, lime and scallions)?  How about the tiny, tiny pies so adorable they almost make me want to puke (in a good way, of course)?  Or tangy garlic scape pesto and a salad dressing that uses the pesto as a base?  Oh, the agony of having to choose!  I want to share it all and I want to share it all NOW because it’s all in season RIGHT NOW.  But – boo hoo – I’ll have to decide.

Since lettuce is the most abundant crop in our CSA box right now, I think it makes the most sense to share my recipe for Cobb-ish salad with ancho honey mustard vinaigrette.  Don’t despair if another of those recipes caught your eye, though.  I think I’ll work my way through all of them.  I may need to pick up the pace a little if I’m going to try to keep recipes in season!

BIG salads - like salads, only bigger
Our CSA share started about a month ago and, as with previous years at this time, we’ve gotten a lot of lettuce, spinach, herbs, scallions and rhubarb so far, along with a few other teasers… some radishes, a few small beets, a couple wee heads of broccoli, a handful of garlic scapes, some collard greens and probably a few other random goodies that are escaping my memory at the moment.  We love having salads during the summer and we often make a big salad (insert Seinfeld joke here) as our main meal for dinner.  We had everything on hand for one helluva salad the other night and I made a killer dressing to top it off.

My best tip for having fresh salads throughout the week is to invest a minimal amount of money in a salad spinner.  I can’t imagine how I ever survived without one as it’s one of my most-used kitchen gadgets.  Once a week during the season, tear your lettuce into bite-size pieces, wash and spin.  Place a couple of paper towels into a resealable bag (I wash and reuse my bags as many times as possible), then place washed and spun lettuce into the bag.  Remove as much air as possible, seal and store in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator.  Then, when you’re craving a salad (a couple-of-times-a-day occurrence in our house), just pop a few handfuls into a bowl and toss with toppings and dressing of your choice.  See our previous post on why you should make your own dressings.  It’s also a great idea to prep some toppings ahead to make life that much easier when you’re busy and tired.  I store all of the components separately, then add what I want to each individual salad.  That keeps the ingredients – and my menu - from becoming soggy.

BIG Cobb-ish Salad with Ancho Honey Mustard Vinaigrette
Serves 2
For vinaigrette:
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried ancho chiles, crushed
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup olive oil

For salad:
  • 4 to 6 cups lettuce (whatever’s in season and looks good), torn into bite-size pieces
  • 1 small head (or 2 tiny, tiny heads) broccoli, blanched if desired
  • 5 to 6 small roasted beets, peeled and thinly sliced or julienned
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs, diced or julienned
  • 1 cup cooked garbanzo beans (chickpeas), rinsed and drained if canned
  • 4 slices cooked bacon, crumbled

1.  In a small bowl, whisk together Dijon, honey, vinegar, ancho chiles, salt and pepper.  Slowly drizzle in olive oil while whisking until well combined.  Alternatively, you can blend all ingredients together in a blender, food processor or using an immersion blender.

2.  Place equal amounts of lettuce in each bowl and top with broccoli, beets, eggs, chickpeas and bacon.  Drizzle with vinaigrette and serve.

* Note:  Add even more protein by adding cooked and cubed chicken, turkey or ham.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Jon:  Since a nice full-bodied breakfast is my favorite meal of the day, I can’t help but be a fan of a salad with bacon and eggs on it.  I’m not sure I have ever eaten a lettuce salad to start the day, but this one might be able to handle such a role.  Regardless, I’m pretty sure we had this one for dinner, not breakfast, and it was still great.  Everything on the salad was local and fresh with the exception of the chickpeas.  But like most salads, it’s really the dressing that drives it home.  The Dijon-honey-chile vinaigrette was bomb.

Jon's secret ingredient for extra protein
The only bummer on the salad front is that during June and July Hethyr spends more time with the salad spinner than with me (insert perverted comment here).  This is one area where I don’t bother helping out.  A few years ago, I took a stab at washing, spinning and packaging the lettuce.  But as many of you already know, fresh-from-the-farm veggies are home to various little bugs and creepy-crawlies that don’t really want to leave.  Well, I’m not really as thorough as Hethyr when it comes to washing, spinning, or pretty much any other activity.  The first time she discovered a worm in her lettuce, I was promptly fired from salad spinning.

Anyway, I hope you are all enjoying a green, leafy summer.  May all your salads be breakfast-worthy and nematode-free…


  1. I really, really love your idea of cleaning and bagging lettuce! It's so nice to be able just to grab the already prepped ingredients for a great salad whenever the mood strikes. Can't wait to try the dressing . . . sounds wonderful!

  2. We definitely eat more salads if the ingredients are ready to go... I'm too lazy (or busy?) to wash the lettuce each time - it's just so much easier this way! =)

  3. Ok, my apartment in Hong Kong was 100 sq. ft. So, that means my kitchen was 10 sq. ft. I had to be pretty frugal... I hated that part of living there! However, I knew what I "needed" and what I didn't need. One of the VERY first things I bought was a good salad spinner. I hear ya! It makes or breaks your salad eating habits. No one loves salads more than I do! I joke with my friends.

    ME: "You guys, if you are ever taking a quiz about me, and the question is 'If Jodie could choose to eat only one food for the rest of her life, what would it be?' the answer is SALAD!!!"

    MY FRIENDS: "Seriously? That's weird! But that's so you!"