Monday, October 8, 2007

Composed Salad from the Garden

Quick! Inlaws are in town and coming to lunch. What do you do?

Well, I wanted to show off the garden, of course, so a salad leaped to mind. The advantage to that is, hardly any cooking at all. And since I was in the middle of making client meals, less additional cooking turns out to be a big plus indeed.

We planted a rather large bed of potatoes this year. That was the first place I checked. A potato bed is like having a secret bank account. It will sit there patiently while you eat other things. Then when the occasion arrives, you simply start poking around with your forked spade to see what turns up. In this case, a few turns of the spade revealed some long, narrow purple potatoes as well as a variety of reds. I swear, I really have no idea what's hiding in that soil. The potato sets all came from our farmer friend Mike and I never made a note of what variety they were. But it sure is nice to have them when you want them.

Most of our tomato plants are fading, but there are still some big, juicy fruits on the vine. I would definitely cut some of those into wedges for the salad. We also had a few pasture-raised eggs in the fridge. Hard boil those. But the salad needed something more. We made a little trip to the new farmers market down the street. It's a lovely thing to have a farmers market just a few blocks away and there I saw the biggest, most outstanding heads of broccoli I've even encoutered. Bigger than life, really. I had no idea they could grow to that size. Also some extremely lovely and fresh green beans from the same farm. They were just the thing...

A big pot of salted water will satisfy most of the cooking needs for a composed salad. Green beans, broccoli, potatoes--all were cooked just to doneness, then chilled in a bowl of cold water. We have several varities of lettuce in their prime now. I planted them for fall, but it's been so hot here I'm just hoping they don't bolt. We're experiencing an August in October.

My wife, the food artist, arranged the vegetables on a big, green, decorative platter, then filled a squirt bottle with a light mustard vinaigrette. We would present the platter at the table and let the guests serve themselves.

For the occasion, brother-in-law Tom, the oenophile, brought a lovely bottle of Washington State late-harvest Reisling. Tom was smitten with the freshness of the tomatoes. They don't get any better. Midway through lunch, he had to run back to the kitchen and slice some more.

Catching up with family should always be like this, lingering over a fresh garden salad and sipping a delicious wine...


Meg Wolff said...

Lucky in-laws!!! Sounds delicious.

Ed Bruske said...

Meg, it was delicious. Everything fresh out of the garden has so much flavor.