Summer yummin’

(Crossposted from Silk And Shadows)

Currently working on: Freaking out
Mood: Freaking out (Hey, it’s good to be consistent)

So I’m writing this Sunday night (due to the fact that I like to wait until the last minute; it’s not procrastination when I call it “time-lock inspiration”) and earlier today I tweeted: “2 parties last night and still home by midnight. We’re not getting older, we’re partying more efficiently.”

My oh-so-supportive twit friends laughed heartily.

And it’s true.  Oh, not just that I’m getting older.  That seems inevitable, more or less.  Worse, I’M GROWING UP!

How sad!  I actually ORDERED A SALAD for myself when I was at the last writers conference.  At home, XY always forces me to eat a salad because “it’s good for me.”  So I usually reserve vacation for an excuse not to eat salad.  But this time, I voluntarily ordered a salad.  And ate it.  And kinda liked it.

If that isn’t a symptom of growing up…

So appropriately enough this week our topic is BBQ cooking.  I went through my Cake Mix Doctors Cookbook, my box mix brownie recipes, my 8 lb. bucket o’ cookie dough options… and decided to share XY’s salad recipe.

Am I hanging my head in shame or because I suddenly fell into an age-induced nap?  Oh well, it’s a tasty salad and always gets rave reviews at BBQs.

Jessa’s XY’s “It’s Good For You” Salad


(This will feed about six people if mixed all at once. XY preps this amount but keeps the ingredients separate and mixes just enough each night for fresh salad. Yes, I know this isn’t a picture of a salad, but it’s a picture of XY and Christmas lights and the moon, which — if you squint — bears a not insignificant resemblance to the salad, honestly.)

Lettuce prep: Get a small/medium head of romaine, or equal that amount of romaine, red leaf, spinach, some arugula, or other fun greenery.

Clean the lettuce thusly (this technique will preserve the greens for a week or more if you keep it all for yourself):

1. Fill the sink with cold water and a cup of salt.  (Weird, I know.) Swish all the leaves through the water.  Pick out wilted and excessively bruised leaves.  (This is usually my job; I am not allowed to play with the knives.)

2. Empty the sink. Refill with fresh cold water.  Continue to pick out the bad leaves.

3. Empty the sink. Refill with fresh cold water and ice cubes.  Let the lettuce chill for about five minutes.

4. Drain the leaves and put them in a salad spinner.  This is crucial. Patting dry could bruise the leaves and hasten spoilage.  Plus, the salad spinner is one of the coolest technologies to come out of the space program, so use it and think of Mars.

Go through the garden. Or your local farmers market. Or the organic section at your local grocery.  Pick the good stuff, pretty stuff, or fun stuff.  But definitely get:

Scallions, one bunch
One cucumber
One carrot
Half-head of red cabbage

Also fun:
One tomato
Red pepper
Chick peas (garbanzo beans) — I don’t even like beans and these are good
Pine nuts
Edible flowers especially nasturtium — and they look nice in the garden

Extra extras:

Chopping time:
Thin slice the lettuce and about quarter of the half cabbage into small strips, like confetti.  For lazy home salads, you can chop it however you want; but for public consumption, the confetti cut looks pretty

Finely chop the scallions. Peel and grate the carrot. Partly peel the cucumber (some of the dark green skin adds color), scoop out the seeds, slice and quarter.

Halve and slice the tomato. Dice the red pepper. Drain and pat dry the chick peas. Roast the pine nuts. (Good heavens, there are a lot of verbs in this salad.  I swear, it’s worth the work for a party, or will feed you all week.)  Shred the flowers.

Pre-party storage:
Refrigerate the lettuce separately.  The other ingredients can be grouped into sealed containers for convenience to take to the party or store in your fridge for assembly at each night’s dinner.

This is a “it’s good for me” salad as well as a tastes good salad, so XY does an oil and vinegar dressing.  The ratio is as follows:

1 part vinegar to 3 parts oil
XY estimates 1 second of oil poured (from a spout, not from the open bottle) for each person.  So a 6-person salad gets 6 seconds of oil (extra virgin olive oil) and 2 splashes of vinegar (red wine, balsamic, etc.).

1 pinch of salt per 2 seconds of oil
So a 6-person salad gets 3 pinches of salt

Fresh ground pepper to taste
XY is adamant the pepper must be fresh ground.  And he says don’t be shy with the pepper.

When the burgers are almost ready to come off the BBQ, put the lettuce in a big bowl.  Toss in the scallions and handfuls of the cabbage, carrot and cucumber until it looks pretty.  Throw in the chick peas and red pepper for visual appeal. Pour the dressing, salt and pepper, and toss well — very well to incorporate the oil and vinegar and dissolve the salt.

All the extras — the sliced tomato, pine nuts, cheese, olives, flower petals, etc. — can be sprinkled on top.

Yes, this is the salad that made me like salads.  Huh.  Now that I think about it, go eat cookie dough.

Do you have a favorite salad ingredient, a must-have dressing, or is lettuce merely for rabbits in your book?