Archive for the ‘Salad’ Category

Fresh Corn Salsa

July 7, 2018

My two favorite summer foods – tomatoes and fresh corn.  Throw in some onions, jalapeno, lime juice and spices and you’ve got salsa!  This is my favorite salsa.  You can do anything with it.  Eat it with Scoops as is.  Add black beans and serve it as a side dish.  Add chicken or shrimp, maybe some rice, and eat it as a main dish.  Super fresh, super easy/IMG_2671

The corn is the hardest part.  Shuck and silk it first.  No cooking needed.  My tip is that you keep your hands as dry as possible for the silking.  Water makes the silks sticky and hard to remove.  Then get a wide, shallow bowl and a sharp knife.  Put one end of the cob into the bowl and cut the kernels off.  The bowl will catch the kernels.  Then dice the onion about the same size as the corn kernels.  It makes the salsa easier to eat and it looks nicer.

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Seed the jalapeno and dice it finely.  Add the juice of one lime.  Add cumin, chili powder and salt to taste.  You can add chopped fresh cilantro if you like.

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Here’s another tip.  Don’t add the tomatoes until you’re ready to serve it.  You can refrigerate the corn mixture.  Tomatoes get mealy and lose flavor in the fridge so add them at the last minute.  You can make extra of the corn mixture.  It will keep for 2-3 days.  Just take out what you need and add tomatoes to it.

Enjoy!

 

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Too tired Friday

June 15, 2018

It’s been a long week, y’all.  And it’s not quite over.  Still, a girl needs her comfort food.  Lucky for me I had some leftovers and a few odds and ends to make a dinner that felt about nice enough to get me through.

Summer Friday night is often a little piece-y.  I’m always down to the last few items from last Saturday’s farmers’ market trip.  Tonight that meant a few fancy lettuce leaves; a baby squash; a sweet onion; and a mostly green tomato.  Here’s a tip. If you buy a green tomato to use as a green tomato you need to use it in 5-6 days.  As it sits around it’ll start to pink.

Combine the lettuce with the leftover peas and rice from earlier in the week.  Main course done.  My first squash and onions of the summer.  First side done.  And some barely pink fried green tomatoes.  Not a ton of effort, but tastes a lot like loving care to this girl.

What’s the first sign that a yummy dinner is on the way?  All three of my cast iron skillets on the stove at the same time.

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I’ll direct you to a previous post to get details on making fried green tomatoes.  For tonight I can tell you that going the lazy route doesn’t pay off.  A breading station has 3 parts:  flour, egg, cornmeal in this case.  I cheated.  Cornmeal, egg, cornmeal.  It’s not the same.  The flour on the bottom makes the coating fluffy underneath.  The egg in the middle makes everything stick.  The cornmeal on the outside makes a crispy coating.  Your other option is cornmeal on the bottom.  Egg in the middle. Panko or breadcrumbs on the outside.

Two layers of crispy isn’t the same.  Don’t misunderstand, they were darn good.  And I burned the tar out of my tongue eating the first one when it was still too hot, as always.  But there is a better way.  And this is it.

The second sign that a yummy dinner is on the way is that it takes more than one dish to get it to the table!  It’s not the prettiest meal I’ve ever made, but it did taste like summer.  And it did feel like a little comfort, so it did its job plus a little.  Some days that’s the best you can expect.

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Gingered Collards with Rice Noodles and Vegetables

June 11, 2018

I know what my Southern friends are thinking – Gingered Collards??  I never heard of such a thing!  For, the non-collard eating folks out there, just pretend I said lacinato kale.  It sounds fancier.  But I hope you’re all intrigued enough to read on!

I am frequently on the hunt for something to do with collards (or kale) besides cook them to death with smoked meat.  I do love them that way, but one cannot cook with ham hock alone.  Of course my new chef BFF Vivian Howard worked it out for me.  And then I threw in a bunch of other stuff and made a whole meal out of them.

Let’s start with the collards.  Forget about half of what I’ve told you about chopping collards.  Do remove the stems and stack the leaves on top of each other.  Don’t roll and slice them.  You’re going to cut them into 1-2 inch squares instead.  So we’re already in unfamiliar territory with these greens.  And then you’re going to cook them in oil and butter and ginger until they caramelize.  Now we’re fully in a foreign land.  And it’s a wonderful place!

A few tips before you start.  Mis en place is a good thing.  It’s not huge here since you don’t have to move too fast, but since I was making this up it helped to feel prepared.  So do all your chopping and measuring and putting your noodles in to soak, or your water on to boil, before you start heating any oil or butter.  You’re going to make the collards all the way through and set them aside. That way your large cast iron skillet will be free make the sauce and to do the other vegetables.

Here’s what you need:

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For the collards:

  • 1 t canola oil
  • 2 t butter
  • 1 bunch collards chopped into 1-2 inch squares
  • 2 T finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 2 T finely chopped fresh garlic
  • 1/4 t crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 C orange juice
  • 1/2 C water
  • 1 T brown sugar

Here’s what you do:

  • Heat the oil and butter in a large cast iron skillet over medium heat until the butter foams
  • Add the ginger
  • Add the collards, spread them into an even layer
  • Add the garlic and red pepper
  • Leave them be for 3 minutes (Seriously, no stirring or shaking the pan)
    • This is a LOT harder than you think.  I had to set the kitchen timer and walk away from the stove to resist the urge to stir!
  • Now you can stir!
  • Spread the collards back into an even layer and them sit another 3 minutes
  • They’ll start to brown and carmelize
  • Add the water, juice and sugar
  • Cook until the liquid cooks away
  • Remove the collards from the pan and set aside

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If the collards get as done as you want them before the liquid cooks away just remove them and leave the liquid in the pan.  It will help with the sauce.

For the noodles:

You’ve got a couple of options.  Either fill a pot with HOT tap water and soak the noodles 25-30 minutes.  Or fill a pot with water and bring it to a boil.  Cook the noodles as you would pasta. Drain, rinse, and return to the pot.  Stir in the collards and a little bit a sesame oil to make sure the noodles stay separated.

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For the sauce:

  • 2 T finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 2 T finely chopped fresh garlic
  • 2 T soy sauce
  • 1 T maple syrup
  • 3 T orange juice
  • 1 T sesame oil
  • 1/4 t crushed red pepper

Mix all the ingredients in a small bowl and then add to the cast iron skillet.  Bring to a boil and stir until it reduced and thickens.  Stay close by.  The sugar will burn if you’re not paying attention!

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Pour the finished sauce into a bowl and set aside.

For the vegetables:

  • 1 T sesame oil
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, sliced thin
  • 1 C matchstick carrots
  • 1-2 spring onions, sliced, whites and greens divided
  • 8 oz sliced shiitake mushrooms

Wipe out the skillet with a paper towel.  Heat the oil until it shimmers.  Add the peppers, carrots and onion whites.  Saute 2-3 minutes.  Add the mushrooms.  Cook down 3-5 minutes.

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You’re almost done!  Add the vegetables to the noodles.  Stir in the sauce.  Top with the onion greens.  Enjoy!

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How’d it turn out?

I had two bowls, so that tells you something.  It’s warm and noodle-y and has a great kick to it.  I’m super pleased to have happened upon these gingered collards.  They’ll be great as a side for a pork roast.  And it’s nice to have a way to serve collards that’s not so winter-y.  This also meets my requirements for flexibility!  You could use this to clean out the vegetable drawer for sure.  Bok choy, cabbage, radishes.  No rice noodles, no problem.  Udon, soba, spaghetti, rice – whatever you want.  Chill everything and serve over lettuce and cucumbers.  Vegetarian not your thing or need some extra protein?  Double the sauce and use it to marinate a flank steak.  Serve thinly sliced beef on top of your vegetables.  Not into spicy?  You can leave out the red pepper.  The fresh ginger will give you a gentler kick in the pants.

I’ve marked this as intermediate only because it’s a fair number of components in a specific order.  Don’t let that scare you!  It’s just noodles and veggies with a yummy sauce!

Ode to Summer (and a Southern Salad)

June 9, 2018

I love Summer!  I love that my neighbors sit on front porches and wave as you walk by.  I love that our vegetable gardens are in front yards because dogs and chickens are in the back.  I love that there’s plenty of mint for juleps and mojitos and salads.  And I love that my Friday nights are spent with a lap full of cookbooks making plans for the wonderful things I’ll find at the Saturday farmers’ markets.  And so it was last night – Hardywood’s Mamaw’s Mean Peach Cobbler beer and Vivian Howard’s Deep Run Roots.

It’s still early summer.  In Central Virginia that means cucumbers, green beans, early squash, late radishes and spring onions. My garden also has a little arugula ready to bolt.  We’re all ready for corn and peaches and tomatoes and field peas, but we’ve got a few weeks to wait yet.  So, salads are still kind of the thing.

My farmers’ market also has the best bacon I’ve ever eaten.  Crabill’s Slab Bacon.  I call it Crack Slab Bacon.  Since I discovered it I haven’t been able to give it up. I buy extra all summer so it will last me through the winter.  So tonight we’re working with arugula and bacon salad.  Leave it to Vivian Howard to make wonderfulness from that.  This is a modifed version of her Sprouted Hoppin’ John Salad with Hot Bacon Vinaigrette.

Hoppin’ John is my traditional New Year’s Day food so I was surprised to be drawn to it on a 90 degree day.  I was hoping there might be early field peas to be had at the farmers’ market, but had to settle for frozen black-eyed peas instead.  I love black-eyed peas, so no problem there.  Hopping John is essentially rice, black-eyed peas and bell pepper often with smoked ham or turkey.  This salad, done my way, is all those things, but with bacon instead of ham and served over salad greens.  Use whatever greens you want.  I used lettuces and arugula, but spinach and chard would work just fine.

I cooled the rice, but left the black-eyed peas warm.  The lettuce and peppers are salad cold and the bacon cool enough to crumble.

The key is the dressing.

Hot Bacon Vinaigrette
  • 8 ounces sliced bacon
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced scallion white part only
  • 1 garlic clove, grated on a mandoline
  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar (I used rice wine vinegar)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon honey (I used Southern Hot Honey)
  • 1 teaspoon smooth Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  1. Add 2 tablespoons of bacon fat back to the pan. Over medium heat, stir in the scallion and let it sizzle for 10 seconds. Then quickly add the garlic followed by the vinegar, lemon juice, honey, Dijon, and salt. With a wooden spoon scrape all the little bacon bits, or fond, from the bottom of the pan.
  2. Once the dressing begins bubbling furiously, pour it over the salad. Stir it up and serve with the crumbled bacon on top. The arugula will wilt, and that’s the point.

As always, I have leftovers.  Salads can be difficult to eat leftover.  The greens get wilty and then slimy if you dress them.  For storage I mixed the leftover rice, peas and dressing.  I can reheat all of that together without damaging any of it.  When I add the warmed rice mixture to a fresh bowl of lettuce and peppers the greens will wilt just as they’re supposed to without being soggy!

I enjoyed this salad immensely!  It’s a complete meal all by itself.  It’s a wonderful combination of flavors and textures.  Using field peas, or the sprouted peas in the original recipe, would make the flavors less earthy and more green, but still good!

Salad

Runner’s World Chickpea Salad

May 3, 2018

I’m a runner.  Not a fast runner.  Not a good runner.  But a runner.  So, of course I have the Runner’s World Cookbook.  I haven’t made much from it, but this seemed like a good option for a long week that’s turned hot!  And for those of you who, like me, are always on the lookout for something new to take to cookouts and potlucks, this is a fantastic choice.  No mayonnaise so it can sit out.  Vegetarian and gluten-free, so workable for almost everyone.  And for the runners out there, it’s listed as “recovery” food.  It also takes about 15 minutes and one bowl to make so hard to beat all around.

If I had to describe this dish in one word it would be, “Zing!”  There are a lot of sharp flavors in here:  red onion, raw garlic, raw ginger, and jalapeno.  Those will wake you right up!  Fortunately there’s a lot of sweet to balance them out:  dried cranberries, mandarin oranges, and parsley.  And then the salt:  feta, smoked almonds, and salt.  In the background, really as the delivery vehicle, are the chickpeas.  Creamy and neutral.  This is good stuff.

And it’s beyond easy.  Drain, grate, dice, chop, dump.  Then for the dressing, measure and shake.  That’s it.

Image result for tip  Do read the directions carefully.  And this applies to every recipe.  There’s a difference between “1C chopped parsley” and “1C parsely, chopped.”  In the first one the measuring happens after the chopping (which means you need more than a cup to start with).  In the second one, you measure first and then chop what you have.

Here’s what you need:

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  • 2 cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can mandarin oranges, drained
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 T grated fresh ginger
  • 1/2 C smoked almonds, chopped
  • 2/3 C chopped dried cranberries
  • 1 jalapeno, veins and seeds removed, chopped fine
  • 1 C chopped parsley
  • 4 oz feta crumbles
  • 2 T cider vinegar
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1/4 t pepper

Here’s what you do:

  • Dump everything chickpeas through feta crumbles in a large bowl and mix together gently
  • In a small jar, add oil, vinegar, salt and pepper.
  • Put the lid on the jar and shake until well combined.
  • Pour over salad and mix gently.

Here’s how it turned out:

This is a wonderfully balanced salad.  And good for you!  Eat it as a main dish or as a side.  It would pair very nicely with steak or with grilled shrimp.  I bet it will be even better the second day!

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Lamb and Bulghur Meatballs

May 1, 2018

It’s finally a warm Spring day in Central Virginia!  So, time for dinner that’s a little salad-y and still a little hearty.  I adapted these from a recipe in Nigella Fresh.  I’m not a huge fan of hers on TV, but the cookbook has some winners.

Meatballs take some time, but they’re super easy; super versatile; make ahead and/or freeze and user later.  They make sandwiches.  They top rice and pasta.  They add protein to a mezze plate.  That’s my choice for tonight.

Here’s what you need:

  • 1 lb ground lamb
  • 1/2-2/3 C cooked bulghur wheat
  • 2 T chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 T chopped fresh mint
  • 1 garlic clove, grated
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • salt and pepper

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Here’s what you do:

  • Preheat oven to 375
  • Dump everything in a bowl
  • Mix with your hands until well combined
  • Form into balls, about 1 1/2 T each
  • Press to slightly flatten
  • Bake 12-15 minutes

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Here’s how it turned out:

I got 25 meatballs out of this.  That’s 5-6 servings.  The bulghur wheat helps stretch the lamb a little further.  It also lightens the slightly gamy flavor that some people object to in lamb.  Meatballs are prettier if you brown them on both sides before you put them in the oven.  They’re also a lot more trouble that way.  If you can live with the slightly gray/brown color you’ll save yourself some time.  You could also stuff these with a little feta cheese.  That will also add time to the whole process, but totally worth it.

These are really good.  Mine could have used a little more salt, but I’ll eat every single one!

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Greek Butternut Squash Salad

January 13, 2018

Hey vegetarian friends, and those looking for a Meatless Monday dish, and those looking for something to take to a picnic, party or potluck – this is for you!  After the Singapore Noodles debacle yesterday, I approached this with some trepidation.  I’m familiar with all of these ingredients though, so it seemed pretty low risk.

I had a butternut squash in the pantry that’s been here for a while.  Sometimes it takes me a while to work up the energy to cut one up.  But I’m really trying to eat a little better and butternut squash salad is as good a start (re-start) as anything.  And I had half a red onion left from yesterday.  And half a sweet onion left from some other day.  And the ends of a block of feta in brine.  I actually only had to buy a 99 cent bunch of parsley for this.  Everything else I already had in the house.

Roasting vegetables is easy.  Here are the things to remember.  Use high heat.  Cut everything roughly the same size so it will all be done at the same time.  Keep everything in a single layer so that every piece has contact with the pan.  Don’t stir more than once.  It’s the contact with the pan that gives you that yummy caramelization.  Salt the vegetables.

If you’re planning to use your squash (or potatoes or carrots) in cubed format, keep an eye on them.  If you let them roast too long they’ll be so soft that they won’t hold their shape when you stir them into whatever else you’re using.

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What we love about these kinds of salads is that they’re mostly dump and stir, and they can be served as a main dish.  I added some bulgur to this to give it some extra heft and left out the walnuts.  I hate walnuts.

Here’s what you need: (minus the olives, which I did use, but left out of this photo)

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  • 1 small butternut squash diced and roasted with olive oil and salt
  • 1/2 red onion and 1/2 sweet onion, diced and roasted with the squash
  • 1- 1 1/2 C cooked bulgur
    • 1/2 C bulgur and 1 C water or vegetable stock
    • Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer 10-12 minutes
  • 1 can chickpeas
  • 1/2 C pitted kalamata olives, chopped
  • 2 t red wine vinegar
  • 1 t lemon juice
  • 1 t honey
  • 1/2 t dried dill weed
  • 1/2 t dried oregano
    • Whisk the above 5 ingredients (vinegar through oregano) together in a small bowl to make dressing
  • 1/2 C chopped or crumbled feta
  • 2 T chopped fresh parsley

Here’s what you do:

Combine chickpeas and olives in a large bowl.  Drizzle with the dressing.  Add cooked bulgur and roasted vegetables.  Stir in feta and parsley.  Salt and pepper to taste.

That’s it!  Easy!

Here’s what I thought:

This is good stuff.  And good for you stuff.  It can be served at room temperature so would be great to take to a potluck or dinner party.  No worries about keeping it hot.  It’s got no mayo or yogurt so good for an outdoor event as well.  It’s good as a single dish meal or as a side for chicken or pork chops. It’s pretty.  It’s healthy.  It’s yummy.  What more could you ask?

Here’s the original recipe.

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I made this bowl cozy today.  This bowl wasn’t hot so I didn’t really need it, but it’s so cute I wanted to use it anyway.

Pearled Barley Salad with Tomatoes, Feta and Chicken

April 18, 2013

The April book club meeting provided a little interruption in taco week.  Tacos don’t travel that well so I opted for a salad instead.  I needed a main dish salad so something with protein and substance to it.  I bought some pearled barley ages ago and never got around to making the barley and mushroom soup for which it was intended so it became my salad.  And it’s a pretty good salad.

Pearled Barley Salad

Of course I made a few changes to the recipe.  I added some rotisserie chicken to give it a little bulk.  I left out the basil because fresh basil and feta don’t excite me when you put them together.  I made the dressing mostly as instructed, but with slightly less oil.  Next time I’d probably replace the feta with mozzarella.  The tang of the feta kind of fights with the honey vinegar dressing.  This would be good too without the chicken, but with a bunch of summer vegetables added in – peppers, squash, snow peas.  A little extra sweetness and crunch would be a nice addition.

An important note if you decide to make this.  Read the recipe all the way to the end.  It comes together really quickly and easily, but if you’ve never made pearled barley before you might not know how much time to allow for that.  You have to soak it an hour before you start to cook it.  And then it cooks about 20 minutes.  And then it has to cool to room temperature.  It’s a process.  I’d do that part the day before if you can.  Another note – you’ll almost never hear me say this, but use commercial stock.  You cook barley like pasta in that once it’s done you drain it.  Don’t use stock that you’d hate to pour down the sink.

Book club did a fine job making their way through this. I had enough leftover for a good lunch today.  This is a salad with a lot of possibilities.  The barley is chewy and nutty and good.  The dressing is light and sweet and tangy.  The tomatoes add a nice fresh flavor and the green onions add a little sharpness.  I have a feeling that some variation on this theme will be making an appearance at summer cookouts this year!

Good? Good.
Easy? Easy. But a little long.
Good for company? Worked for book club!
Special shopping? Nope.

Pearled Barley Salad with Tomatoes, Feta and Chicken

Ingredients

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon honey
1/3 cup olive oil

4 cups vegetable broth
1 1/2 cups barley
2 C diced rotisserie chicken
2 cups grape tomatoes, halved
1 7-ounce package feta cheese, crumbled (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 cup chopped green onions

Directions

Rinse barley, and place in a small bowl. Cover with water by about two inches, and let soak for about an hour. Drain.

Whisk vinegar, lemon juice, and honey in small bowl. Gradually whisk in oil. Season vinaigrette with salt and pepper. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and chill.)

Bring broth and 1/2 cup water to a boil in a large heavy saucepan. Stir in barley, reduce heat, cover, and boil until tender but still firm to bite, about 20 minutes. Drain. Transfer to large wide bowl, tossing frequently until cool.

Mix tomatoes, chicken, feta, and green onions into barley. Add vinaigrette; toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper. (Can be made 2 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.) Serve at room temperature.

Zesty Honey-Lemon Dressing

March 10, 2013

March potluck this weekend.  Since potluck was Friday night and I had a feeling that work might get a little hairy I signed up to make salad.  I made it as easy as possible without completely bailing on making something.  I make most of my salad dressings from scratch and I decided that counted as “making something.”

The main dish for potluck this month was a pasta dish so I did a green salad with tomatoes, artichoke hearts and olives.  That’s a lot of briny goodness so I needed a dressing with something sweet to balance it out.  This is a good one.  The honey and lemon come out really nicely.  The zesty is a little more subtle.  If you want more zest just add more dijon.  I left out the fresh parsley because I didn’t have any.  Probably a nice addition, but not critical.  I made it with the immersion blender because I’m too lazy to whisk enough to get a good emulsion.  Most of the time when I whisk by hand the dressing separates and has to be shaken before serving.  If I use the stick blender I don’t have that issue.  A regular blender will do too.

Not much else to say about this one.  It’s a keeper.  I’ll be using it throughout the Spring on early vegetables and greens.  Yum!

Good? Good.
Easy? Easy.
Good for company? Sure.
Special shopping? Nope.

Zesty Honey-Lemon Dressing

Ingredients

3 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon lemon zest
4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, pressed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/3 cup olive oil

Directions

Blend all ingredients until completely combined. Keeps up to 5 days in the refrigerator.

Wild Greens with Lardo

January 28, 2013

Here’s the first recipe from this year’s No Football Sunday Dinner.  It’s hard to call a salad a recipe, but I have to tell you how good this is.  The original recipe in La Cucina calls for a wild green not widely available in the US.  They do offer arugula as a substitute.  When I went to the store the arugula looked horrible.  I just couldn’t bring myself to buy it.  I opted for a big clamshell container of Baby Spring Mix instead.  It’s a nice combination of lettuces, spinach, radicchio and arugula so you get a little sweet and a little bitter.  You want at least some bitter in this.  It’s a nice balance for the salt.

That brings us to the lardo.  This is also something you can’t exactly find here.  At least not in a regular grocery store.  It is, at least in part, the rump fat of a pig cured and seasoned.  I found something that said that fat back is a reasonable substitute.  I think that’s probably true, but I’m guessing it lacks a depth of flavor.  That said, I used fat back, rendered, and it was awesome.  Essentially you’re using the melted fat instead of oil as your salad dressing.  A few tablespoons of vinegar and some fresh pepper.  Done.  No other vegetables.  No other spice.  No need.  This is seriously good stuff.  Not that I recommend that you start using pork fat as the base for all of your salad dressings.  Certainly not.  But once in a while it’s worth it!

One note.  Eat the whole salad the first day.  The leftovers are disgusting.

Good? Much better than I dared imagine.
Easy? Absolutely.
Good for company? Mine certainly enjoyed it.
Special shopping? I have no idea if grocery stores outside the South routinely carry fatback, but around here it’s easy to find.

Wild Greens with Lardo

Ingredients

1 clamshell or bag of bitter salad greens
6 ounces fat back, rendered (melted into liquid)
2-3 T white vinegar
Fresh cracked pepper

Directions

Toss greens with fat back until the leaves begin to wilt. Toss with vinegar and pepper.