A nice little salad
I think people are funny about salads. A lot of people think it means iceberg lettuce, a couple of tomato slices, some tinned beetroot and a wedge of onion (if you are unlucky). Others think instantly of a fancy salad like a Caesar salad, that they would pay a fortune for when they are out, but not attempt to make at home. Simple or complicated, a salad is what you put into it, if you want a plain foil for a fancier dish, have a chat to the dish itself, think about what will complement that. For example, a nice fish pie would be offset beautifully by a spinach and fennel salad with a lemon vinaigrette. You have some lovely bacon in the fridge? Grab yourself a cos lettuce, some strong Parmesan, cut some bread into cubes to toast, make up a nice mayo (see the post on homemade mayo), poach an egg (see the post on poaching eggs), a few spring onions and Stuart’s your uncle, a Caesar you would pay $15 or $20 for in a restaurant.
It has been a big week here on the farm. Work has been mad and we had an awful lot of tree to clear up off the fence so I have been feeling a little flat, so I picked up a lovely porterhouse steak yesterday while I was out shopping and thought I might toss it on the BBQ for Mr T and I. Hmmm, what to have with it? I didn’t want potatoes, didn’t want eggs, wanted something fresh, but not something bulky, something cooked, but not hot. Warm, but not cold. Hmmm. Picky eater thing, aren’t I? Anyway, I settled on this nice little salad, and it was flavoursome, and nutritious and perfectly delicious.
So what have I done here? Well, I was making pies in the Cookie House, so I had the oven on, so I popped half a dozen baby Roma tomatoes into a large ramekin, added a few rounds of capsicum and four whole garlic cloves, drizzled the lot with a little olive oil and popped it into a corner of the oven. Then I took eight small mushrooms, cut them in half, put them in another ramekin, drizzled with a little more olive oil and then sprinkled them with chopped lemon thyme and popped them into another corner of the oven. I let them cook for about twenty minutes at 170 degrees C, adding about two tablespoons of pine nuts to the tomato dish after ten minutes, then pulled them out and let them cool. At this point I tossed my steaks onto the hot BBQ and while that was cooking I shredded a little basil and popped that into a bowl with some baby spinach and a sliced spring onion, then I tossed the warm veg into the spinach mixture, gave it all a good stir around and then sprinkled on a little balsamic vinegar and black pepper, no need for any more oil, just make sure any juices from the ramekins go in with the salad. Simple. Flavoursome. Delicious. Nutritious. Who says salads have to be boring?
Actually, while I was making this I munched on a few pine nuts and was struck by the simple creaminess of them, they had an aftertaste very much like cow’s cream, which got me to thinking, I have not made a torta della nonna for a long time....to the Cookie House!!!