Nothing Says Spring Like a Fresh Salad!
Three Things We’re Eating – One Thing We’re Making!
WELCOME! We’re so glad that you decided to give us some of your time to read this. We’ve got a new feature we’re rolling out this month. So let’s start things off like we so often do, with a question.
Anyone who likes cooking (and eating) has seen their fair share of recipes either in print or online. Like me, you may even have a subscription to a few of these recipe resources. You know the ones I’m talking about; Bon Appetit, The New York Times, Cook’s Illustrated, or Milk Street. This doesn’t even begin to touch the online-only food publications. Now here comes the question. Can a regular home cook make any of these recipes successfully? Or are they just pretty to look at?
It’s a question that we have been trying to answer with our monthly Make it at Home feature. And judging by the popularity of those posts, you seem to love the concept. So, we’re going to expand just a bit on a successful theme.
We’re going to call this Three Things We’re Eating – One Thing We’re Making. Every month we’re going to take a look at a particular food/dish/cuisine. We’re going to “home kitchen test” a timely recipe from a popular cooking publication, and then take a trip around Sarasota to let you know where you can taste a few dishes that may (or may not) be similar.
Like Make it at Home, we’ll keep these recipes “doable.” That means no crazy specialized equipment or ingredients that are only attainable by the best chefs in the world or techniques that most of you can’t possibly pull off. In other words, we’ll see if it’s possible for us “normal” people to successfully make any of these recipes that we drool over in the newspaper, magazines, and online!
It’s April it’s springtime, and it’s SALAD time! So this month, it’s Two Wedges and THE Salad!
The Wedge Salad. It’s had its ups and downs over the years, popularity speaking. Steakhouses still embrace it as a staple (just like creamed spinach). Overall, it seemed like it was on its way off most restaurant menus.
But combing through Sarasota restaurant menus, it feels like the wedge is making something of a comeback. And I like it!
We’ve got two very different wedges for you; one traditional, one not so much.
The Summer House Restaurant (149 Avenida Messina, (941) 260-2675). First the traditional.
Make no mistake about it. This is a wedge in every way, shape, and form. It goes by the name Siesta Wedge on the menu. Classic iceberg lettuce, heirloom tomatoes, and “supreme” bacon. They top this delicious salad creation with green goddess dressing (which gives it a nice zing) and blue cheese from Wisconsin’s Carr Valley Creamery. If you order a wedge salad and expect a wedge salad, this will be everything you’re expecting (and probably more). Classic steakhouse wedge. OH, did we forget to mention the fresh baked bread AND butter?!
Lila (1576 Main St., (941) 296-1042). Second is the non-traditional version. Leave it to Lila to put their spin on something that usually has a very narrow lane.
You probably don’t need me to be your interpreter here. It’s pretty easy to see that this in no way resembles the wedge above from The Summer House. And that’s OK. That is the exact way they intended it. Wedges come in all different shapes, looks, and sizes. (Just like people!)
They start with bibb lettuce, top with blue cheese dressing, coconut bacon, and almonds. Some super fresh tomato slices (tough to find in FLA) almost act as a side dish to the salad itself. This wedge version was light and subtly flavored. The almonds gave it some nice texture and crunch. This was the perfect salad for lunch!
Morton’s Gourmet Market (1924 S. Osprey Ave., (941) 955-9856). And finally, The Salad. Yes that, The Salad. Morton’s variation of the 1905 salad. It is different enough from the classic 1905 that it feels like its own thing.
I’m not sure of the origin of the name. But I could hazard a few good guesses (just like you could). This salad is a terrific accompaniment to whatever you’re making at home for dinner. A light lemon-tinged dressing sets it apart from some heavier variations. You can pick this up at the Southside Village AND Siesta Key Morton’s locations. Be aware if you’re at the SK store, it goes by the name The 2022 Salad. I’d be willing to bet if you wandered in and just asked for The Salad, they would know exactly what you were talking about!
Enough salad eating. It’s time for salad making!
Fried Lemon and Radish Salad
Rebekah Peppler is an American-born food writer living in Paris, France. But she’s more than just an American-born food writer. She’s a James Beard nominated American-born food writer. She’s also a cookbook author and food stylist. In short, Rebekah is a very busy culinary professional.
In this month’s Bon Appetit Magazine (The Travel Issue), a piece profiles some of her time in the City of Lights. Along with, of course, a few of her delicious recipes. One of those recipes fits perfectly with the theme of this month’s Three Things post, Spring!
Her Fried Lemon and Radish Salad screams out for springtime consumption. And, at first glance anyway, it seems like you (and I) can both make this light and springy dish. So let’s give this thing a whirl, shall we??
INGREDIENTS – DRESSING
2 medium shallots, thinly sliced
¼ cup sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp. plus 1½ tsp. finely chopped drained capers
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. honey
¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
INGREDIENTS – SALAD
SALAD AND ASSEMBLY
½ cup raw pistachios
1 large lemon
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Flaky sea salt
3 oz. tender salad greens (such as arugula or mâche; about 3 cups)
2 cups coarsely chopped parsley leaves with tender stems
1 cup mint leaves, torn if large
1 bunch red radishes, trimmed, thinly sliced
Whisk shallots, vinegar, lemon juice, capers, mustard, and honey in a small bowl; let sit at least 10 minutes and up to 1 hour. Whisk in oil and season dressing with salt and pepper.
Here’s what that should look like before you add oil and whisk.
** Dressing can be made 2 days ahead; cover and chill.
METHOD – SALAD AND ASSEMBLY
Toast pistachios in a small dry skillet over medium heat, tossing occasionally, until golden brown in spots, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and coarsely chop.
Thinly slice lemon crosswise into rounds; pluck out seeds and discard. Cook lemon slices in a medium saucepan of boiling salted water until barely tender, about 2 minutes. Drain and pat dry with paper towels.
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Working in batches, cook lemon slices, turning occasionally, until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer to paper towels and season with sea salt; let cool. Set aside a few lemon slices for serving. Transfer remaining lemon slices to a cutting board and coarsely chop.
Drizzle half of the dressing in a large bowl. Add greens, parsley, mint, radishes, and chopped lemon slices; toss to coat. Top with pistachios and reserved lemon slices. Serve remaining dressing alongside.
Recipes from ‘À Table: Recipes for Cooking + Eating the French Way’ by Rebekah Peppler. Copyright © 2021 by Rebekah Peppler. Published by Chronicle Books.
Let’s take a look at how I did, shall we??
Of course, we’ll have to compare. Below is what we were shooting for! Yes I know, the pros really know how to do it! ** Thank you Joann for letting us use your beautiful food photo!
Here are some tasting, cooking, and plating notes for you
- Rebekah is a food stylist. And Joann is a professional photographer. I am not either of those things. I’m still working on my plating!
- The salad was super light, even though the lemons were pan-fried. It had a nice lemony bite to it.
- I realized right away that I wouldn’t be able to slice the radishes thin enough. So I cheated and used a spiralizer! That worked great! Nice, super thin radish slices.
- This salad was perfect as a stand alone lunch with a little bread and butter. It would also be nice as a side salad for dinner.
THE VERDICT: Yes you can make this delicious, refreshing spring salad in your own kitchen. Difficulty level: 3/10. There is a fair amount of prep involved. But the finished dish is certainly worth the effort! Don’t be scared, it’s just a salad!