Thursday, April 10, 2014

A Storybook Salad

Nothing says "Happy Spring!" at the dinner table like a big ol' plate of rabbit food.

Well, granted, this festive salad would require a carnivorous, fish-and-egg-eating bunny, but other than that, this fabulous creation comes straight out of Mr. McGregor's garden.

And speaking of gardens, this is a perfect meal to throw together after a long session in the yard, or anywhere else you might care to spend a lovely spring day. All of the ingredients can be prepared hours ahead of time, and then tossed together at the last minute for a hearty and healthy meal.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's start with a shopping list:

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Salmon - one serving per person. I use these frozen fillets from Target.
Eggs - one or two per person.

Mixed greens - one bag is plenty for four.
Radishes - one bunch
Asparagus - one bunch
Fresh herbs - about one cup of any leafy herb, like mint or parsley.

1 shallot, sliced thin 
1 orange, juiced
1 T orange zest
1 T white wine vinegar
1/4 C olive oil

1. Cook the salmon.. I poached my salmon, by bringing several inches of water in a big pan to boil, then dropping in the still-frozen fillets and cranking the heat all the way down to low. Within 10 or 12 minutes, check the center of the thickest piece to see it's cooked through; remove from the water and plop them onto a plate to cool.

2. Hard boil the eggs. I toss mine in a pot of cold water, and cook it on high heat until the water comes to a fast and furious boil. Let that party rage on for about five minutes, then haul the pot over to the sink. Pour off the hot water and fill the pan with cold. When the cold water starts to feel warm, pour it off again and refresh with more cold. When the eggs are cool to the touch, pull them from the water, peel off the shells, and refrigerate.

3. Prep the veggies. Steam and then chop the asparagus, slice the radishes, clean the herbs. Thank heavens for pre-washed mixed greens while you rip open the plastic bag of those bad boys.

4. In a small bowl, mix together the shallot, orange juice, orange zest, vinegar and oil. 

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Okay, now you are free to go play in the sunshine, knowing that your dinner will come together in less time that it took Peter Rabbit to wriggle out of his jacket and slip away from Mr. McGregor's sieve. Ready to make the magic happen?

^ Grab a big platter and start with a big bed of mixed greens. Layer on the radishes, asparagus and herbs.

^ Chop the hard-boiled eggs in halves or quarters and arrange artfully.

^ Ditto the salmon. I broke each of the serving-size pieces in half, and invited each of my diners to take two.

^ Okay, almost done. Call everyone to the table, and tell the last person who runs through the kitchen to grab a loaf of crusty bread and some soft butter. 

 ^ Finally, splash on some dressing. In the interests of personal preference, I poured on just enough to make the salad look delicious, then put the rest on the table in a self-serve bowl.

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Trust me, this fast, fresh and pleasantly filling meal will make everyone at your table as happy as a runaway bunny who finds his way safely back home. Enjoy with chamomile tea.

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For more stories about my carb- and sugar-free eating adventures, read:

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