Green on Green Salad

green on green 2

It’s the first day of Spring!  I used to be a complete fall/winter gal, and as far as loving cardigans to a fault, I still am.  But the new mother side of my life has made me  crave warmer weather, the ability to leave the screen door open so we can hear the birds, and not worrying if my kid is constantly too cold.  This time last year, I had a two week old baby in the house.  We were scared and bewildered, yet happy to have her as a part of our pack.  It’s been such a learning process.  Is there a “right” way to do things?  Well, if there is, I was sure on the hunt this year.  I asked every person I knew who might have an ounce of understanding or empathy, what they thought the “right” way was to feed/sleep/play/instruct my baby.  I’m sure they, like me, are breathing a sigh of slight relief that along with her first birthday passing, so has a large amount of my questions.  I think part of me craves that close knit village type atmosphere of raising a baby.  Mothers, grandmothers, aunts, cousins; all within arms reach of advice.  While that isn’t our reality, I am very thankful for technology that has made virtual villages out of our spread-apart lives.

One of my favorite parts of this “virtual village” is the way in the short time this blog has been up and running, I’ve been able to answer questions of fellow moms across several states on the basics of cooking, what to cook for baby, where on earth do you get Chinese 5 Spice?! and so on.  I love cooking so much and I hope that along the way, I can make at least one other person excited to cook a meal for their family or try something new.  I love when someone tells me, “I salt my pasta water because of you” (which is funny because at least three people have told me this, and I learned it from Mario Batali. Salty like the ocean!) I feel useful, even though I might be stuck in this house (or feel stuck from time to time), I feel knit together with so many by a common ambition for the quest for good food and a simple sense of accomplishment.

This salad is once again, from THE best cookbook of my year, so far, The Bonne Femme cookbook.  I served this salad with the broccoli and cauliflower recipe from Monday and seared chicken breasts with a simple pan sauce  (butter, chicken stock, pan drippings, reduce, reduce, reduce) and sliced, toasted almonds.  Very filling meal, very heart healthy – no one felt deprived!  (baby side note: Olive didn’t try this.  She was still sickly when I made it.  Will try again with her soon)

Green on Green Salad

serves 4

1 garlic clove, minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper (about 1/4 tsp each)
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons honey
a few drops of Tabasco, Cholula, Tapatio, or whatever peppe sauce you like best
4 cups baby arugula or just a bag of mixed greens
1/2 cup, halved, thinly sliced cucumber
1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions
1 avocado, peeled and sliced

In a small bowl, use the back of a spoon (or I use a drink muddler) to mash the garlic clove with the salt and pepper.  Add the lime juice and whisk until the salt is dissolved.  Add the olive oil, whisking until incorporated.  Whisk in the honey and red pepper sauce.

In a large bowl, toss the greens with enough dressing to make the leaves coated, but not too heavy.  Arrange the arugula on a large platter.  Toss the cucumber and scallions with a bit of the dressing and arrange them on top of the greens.  Arrange the avocado slices across the top of the salad.  Drizzle just a little more dressing on top of the avocado and serve.

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Poached Egg Salad with Bacon and Sherry Dijon Vinaigrette

Poached Egg Salad with Bacon and Sherry Dijon Vinaigrette

Everything about this salad is good.  The vinaigrette is simple to make and extremely satisfying to me, a reformed cream-based dressings only kind of person.  I’m from Portales, NM – we like ranch dressing more than we should.  Any time Matt would order a vinaigrette at a restaurant, I would scoff as if he were simply trying to make a point that I should choose a healthier option because how could he really prefer a vinaigrette?  Well, I think you could easily prefer this one.  This salad has enough richness from the bacon (just one strip per person) and the poached egg that when it’s all combined, everything balances out perfectly.  This recipe is again, from the genius and simple, Bonne Femme Cookbook.  I think I’m unintentionally cooking my way through this book.  I made a diversion last week and cooked out of the Everyday Food magazine and while all the recipes were good, once I started this week cooking out of Bonne Femme again, I think Matt and I were both secretly relieved.  I can’t quite put my finger on why all the recipes work so well – I haven’t screwed up one, yet, and I’ve made nearly a dozen different recipes!  Maybe the mystery is that the French like everything to have a sauce?  It certainly creates a warmth for every meal that would be lacking otherwise.  And even with all these sauces, I’m still losing weight (down two more last week)  Woohoo!

So here’s to a salad with a sauce all its own when the yolk combines with the vinaigrette.  I made it a bit heartier by roasting some asparagus to have along side.  Asparagus and runny egg yolks are best friends, by the way.

Scared to poach an egg?  Well, you can buy one of those insert things that you put into a pot on your stove, or what I did was bring a medium saucepan to an active simmer (not boiling – I left my burner on medium heat), crack your egg into a small bowl first and then get your water swirling in a tornado fashion and then dump your egg into the middle of the swirling water.  It will look like a walleyed mess at first, but after 3-4 minutes, you can check the egg with a slotted spoon and if your whites are done and your yolk still feels jiggly to the touch, then it’s good to go.  The recipe suggests putting two tablespoons of white wine vinegar into your water to keep the whites from scattering so much. I forgot to do this, but am anxious to try again, soon.

Poached Egg Salad with Bacon and Sherry-Dijon Vinaigrette
serves 4

4 slices thick cut bacon, but into 1-inch pieces
3 cups torn mixed greens
1/2 cup sliced red onion
4 large eggs
1 recipe Sherry Mustard Vinaigrette (recipe follows)
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook the bacon in a skillet over medium heat until crisp; remove from the skillet and drain on paper towels.
Toss the greens and red onion in a medium sized salad bowl.
Poach your eggs to desired done-ness, adding 2 tbs of vinegar to the water before adding the eggs.  Here’s another tutorial on how to poach an egg.
When the eggs are almost done, toss the bacon in the bowl with the greens and add enough vinaigrette to coat the leaves well – you may not need the whole recipe and less is more – an over dressed salad gets soggy  and gross really quick.
Arrange the salad among four serving plates and top each with a poached egg.  Season the egg with salt and pepper and serve immediately.  If you want to serve it with the asparagus, I’ve got the recipe for you below.

Sherry-Mustard Vinaigrette

In a small bowl, combine 1 clove of minced garlic with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.  Mash them together with the back of a spoon to make a rough paste.  Add 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar; whisk with a fork until the salt is dissolved.  Whisk in 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard.  Slowly add 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, whisking until incorporated.

Simple Roasted Asparagus

Wash and trim your asparagus.  Coat all the stalks in 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  Sprinkle evenly with salt and pepper.  Roast in a preheated 400F oven for 15 minutes.  Squeeze a few drops of lemon juice over and serve!