When I restarted my diet a few weeks ago, I planned to eat more salads. However, it wasn't really salad weather. When it's cold and grey outside, I instinctively want something warm and filling. The weather has been quite bright this past week, but with a cold north wind. Now it's June; surely that means Summer, and time for some salads?
While I was thinking about it, I started to wonder, what is a salad? If it's just a mixture of ingredients, are there a minimum number? Does it have to be cold? Looking around at the many recipes available online, it seems to me that a salad consists of two of more ingredients which have been prepared separately (chopped up, perhaps cooked) and then are mixed together, with or without some sort of dressing, as opposed to ingredients which are prepared separately and then not mixed (eg fish, chips and peas), or ingredients which are cooked together (eg a stew). Some cultures also describe dishes with ingredients which have been mixed and mashed together as salads. I found hundreds of recipes, some classic, some rather novel with ingredients which would not normally be in season at the same time. One site had some sort of dressing on every salad. Many of the recipes served four or six and it would have been tricky to divide some of the ingredients to make a single serving.
In the end, I rather think that a salad is whatever you make with the ingredients you have to hand. Some combinations may go better together than others, but it's down to personal taste. I don't like a lot of dressing or raw onion, and prefer not to have some vegetables raw, either.
So, here's my first salad. I picked up some asparagus from the reduced section at the supermarket, have a pack of beetroot open, some new potatoes and lots of eggs. I've been to a choreography workshop today so I am ravenous ...
Halve and boil a few small new potatoes in the in their skins, in salted water. Trim the asparagus and steam on top of the potatoes. Boil an egg. Let all this cool a little. Roughly chunk one or two beetroot to a size you like and slosh a tablespoon of cider vinegar over them. Shred some lettuce onto a plate. Peel the egg and quarter, putting it with the potatoes, asparagus and beetroot on top of the lettuce without mixing, unless you want to dye everything pink! Drizzle some of the beetroot coloured cider vinegar on top and admire the colours briefly before eating.
I have to say, the asparagus was a bit past its best and might have been better for soup, but it was quite a satisfying plateful with a mixture of tastes. And yes, my free-ranging hens really do lay eggs with yolks that colour, bless them!
I wonder what tomorrow's salad will be?