The Soul of a Rabbit

Dear Readers, 

  Spring lettuce from  Blenheim Organic Gardens

Spring lettuce from Blenheim Organic Gardens

This time of year, there's quite a bit of fresh lettuce hanging around in gardens across the country, perhaps just starting to turn bitter as it bolts with the warm weather (the spinach has already pretty well given up and gone to seed, leaving a repulsive sour taste in your mouth). The lettuce has not reached the point of inedibility.  It does, however, require a little something before making its appearance at the dinner table.

According to M.F.K Fisher, French author Paul Reboux once wrote,

You need to have the soul of a rabbit to eat lettuce as it is usually served—green leaves slightly lubricated with oil and flavoured [sic] with vinegar. A salad is only a background; it needs embroidering. To give character to a lettuce salad, cut up slivers of orange rind as small as pine needles, and sprinkle them over the salad. If you want something still more entertaining for your guests, cut up a carrot into equally small slips. This will at once arouse the attention of any gourmet. Which is orange and which is carrot? [he] will wonder. How does the Orange come to have a taste of Carrot, and the Carrot a flavour of Orange? You will have given him a real gastronomic entertainment.

If you don't have time to prepare such a delicate salad, and tire of vinaigrette dressing as Reboux did, you may enjoy this simple recipe for Caesar salad. This recipe does not use egg yolks, as I am absolutely paranoid when it comes to raw eggs (there is a brief but unrepeatable story behind this; suffice it to say, eggs and I get along very well cooked, thank you).  I'm sure that a good Caesar salad does taste better with egg yolks, though...I can imagine it.  

This recipe has simple ingredients, and anyone can make it, as long as you start with a good-quality mayonnaise (none of this plastic, sickly-sweet synthetic stuff: my favorite is made by Sir Kensington).  Here it is:

Caesar Salad Dressing (Printable Recipe)

1/4 cup avocado mayonnaise from Sir Kensington
1/4 cup whole-fat sour cream
dash garlic powder (to taste) 
2 Tbsp. organic red wine vinegar
2 tsp. good dijon mustard
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp. organic lemon juice
dash freshly-ground black pepper
1 Tbsp. freshly-grated parmesan cheese (more or less), or shaved parmesan broken into bits

I had this delicious dressing one night in college, the year I was renting a basement apartment from a lovely family near my school. We all sat around their big country table (they had six or seven adorable children, all incredibly well-behaved and wise beyond their years) and ate this creamy Caesar salad, with roast chicken mixed in and topped off with piping hot homemade croutons. It was the first time I really wanted seconds on my salad!

When I make this recipe now, I never manage to toast the croutons in time, and roast chicken is eluding me completely at the moment.  The creamy dressing, on the other hand, is simple and foolproof. It can be kept, refrigerated, for up to a week if you don't eat it all in one sitting (this recipe makes enough for a 4-person-sized-salad).  

Yours Truly,