Dan's Favorite Salad
Category: Soups & Salads | Blog URL: http://stuff2eat.blogspot.com/2009/07/when-culinary-worlds-collide.html
This recipe was entered in The Foodista Best of Food Blogs Cookbook contest, a compilation of the world’s best food blogs which was published in Fall 2010.
Photo: Lori Jablons
When Culinary Worlds Collide
I have been blessed with a husband who is not only funny, smart and weighs more than me, but who is the most unfussy eater I have ever met. He is so happy when I cook for him, even when some of the meals have I plunked down in front of him during our 25 years together could easily have made it into the Museum of Culinary Horrors. (The one in Tallahassee.)
Dan’s motto is: Try anything. He even kept to this during the time I was not eating any meat and was making lasagna with tofu and all variations of legumes, grains and vegetables mushed together in one dish. Some of these experiments were more successful than others, and Dan didn’t really like many of these dishes, but at least he would try whatever I made. Except for the lasagna and a monstrous-looking lentil-rice dish, he finished everything on his plate. How can you not love a man who will eat anything you put in front of him―including stuff that you yourself hate, like tofu?
My mother-in-law had no interest whatever in the culinary arts. She passed this down to her son, whose idea of a gourmet meal was Kraft’s macaroni and cheese with sliced hot dogs. When Dan and I began dating, he came down with a terrible cold. Being a good girlfriend, I traveled to his Upper East Side walkup for the first time, bearing my version Jewish penicillin (wonton soup) and was prepared to nurse him back to health.
I’d never seen a more skanktastick apartment in all my life. I was afraid to touch anything. When I finally screwed up the courage to open the fridge, my worst fears were realized. The top shelf held an uncovered cast-iron skillet with a cold, congealed, half-eaten pile of cheeseburger Hamburger Helper, with the fork still in it. No wonder this guy was sick! I knew I loved him when I didn’t run screaming from his apartment but instead trashed the leftovers, cranked the hot water and threw the skillet and fork into the sink to soak.
Dan and I are representative of when culinary worlds collide. Most of the stuff he truly loves I truly loathe. The upside, though, is that Dan has spent the last 25 years introducing me to a vast array of foods: potato pancakes, rugelach, matzo ball soup, horseradish, French fries with gravy, coleslaw on sandwiches, the Leo (lox, eggs, and onions) and, recently, Ben & Jerry’s Mission to Marzipan ice cream. Luckily, he feels the same way as I do about bugs and guts: Neither belongs on a plate.
I used to view our food differences as a hurdle, but I now see they are anything but. If he can open the door to the stuff he likes and I can open the window to things I like, we can surely climb through and meet somewhere in the middle. Preferably, in the kitchen.
Dan’s Favorite Salad
This is great for when it gets too bloody hot to turn on the stove late in the day. Roast the chicken early in the morning, let it cool, cut it up and put it in the fridge until you’re ready to use it. The vegetable amounts are not set in stone. Adjust them as you need to. If I have some shredded zucchini in the fridge, I toss that in too. Feel free to add more sunflower seeds. I don’t think you can ever have too many toasted sunflower seeds.
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons tarragon vinegar
1 teaspoon dried tarragon
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons minced shallots
1 teaspoon agave nectar
¾ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
4 cups mixed greens (baby lettuces, spring mix, baby spinach; whatever you like)
2 cups arugula
1 cup cherry tomatoes
1 whole, roasted, cold chicken breast, cut up
1 large carrot, shaved
2 tablespoons toasted sunflower seeds
1. In a blender, combine olive oil, vinegar, tarragon, mustard, shallots, agave, salt, and pepper. (You can also whisk this together in a bowl, but the vinaigrette becomes nicely emulsified in the blender.) Blend until well combined. Taste and adjust salt, pepper and agave, if needed. I don’t like to serve a salad already dressed, so I suggest transferring it to a small bowl and passing at the table. Stick dressing in the fridge if you’re not going to use it right away.
2. In a large bowl, combine the washed greens, arugula and tomato. Scatter chicken and carrot shavings over top of greens and tomato. Sprinkle sunflower seeds on top of everything and serve immediately.
Variation: Lori’s Favorite Salad. Substitute some good-quality goat cheese for the chicken, ditch the arugula for spinach, switch the cherry tomatoes and carrots for pomegranate seeds or sliced fresh strawberries and dress it with balsamic vinaigrette. Try both versions and let me know which one you like best.