You know what I don’t love? The ubiquitous “garden salad” on restaurant menus. You know the one: wilted (if not decaying) “spring mix,” a few grated carrots, hard cherry tomatoes. That’s it. It’s bound to be a disapointment to anyone who’s ever seen an actual garden.
I’m out to redeem the name. This is a gardener’s garden salad. Luckily, you can also put together a reasonable version of it if you have access to a farmer’s market, or if you have a few herbs growing on your windowsill and the good sense to buy a gorgeous, tender head of lettuce.
It’s easy to get complacent about the garden when you live in Seattle. It rains, then it’s sunny, then it rains, so I tend to assume that everything is going ok out there without me. Today was the first day in a while that I really poked around, and I was pleased to find that it’s time to start making salads that grew in the backyard. (You may be lucky enough to live in a climate where your garden and farmers market have advanced beyond arugula and radishes. Rest assured, it’s never too late to make a great salad.)
The basic equation is this: some lettuce or baby kale, some soft herbs, some edible flowers, and a light coating of chive vinaigrette. Beyond that, it’s up to you. Today, our salad was baby leaves of lettuce, arugula, kale, and ruby chard, a few sorrel leaves cut into ribbons, parsley, cilantro, arugula flowers, kale flowers, chive flowers, and a couple of sliced radishes. Tomorrow, who knows?
Springtime Garden Salad: Pick or purchase some tender greens. Consider adding thin slices of radish or even baby zucchini if you are lucky enough to live somewhere much warmer than Seattle. Top with a big handful of soft herbs and edible flowers. Make a vinaigrette with 1 Tbsp. white wine vinegar, 2 Tbsp. olive oil, and a few blades of finely-snipped chives. Lightly dress the greens, turning them gently.