Salad for Dinner by Jeanne Kelley
The word salad has been undergoing a transformation in the past year or so. Rather than being presented as a side, or an afterthought, salads are taking the stage as the main dish---and I have to say I like that idea.
When I lived in England and France, lunch was often a salad. In English pubs they do smashing salad plates where they pile together an assortment of salads. In France, the cruditee plate is a favorite of mine for lunch, again, a piling on of assorted vegetable salads on a plate. Although I don't remember having one for dinner when eating out in those countries, they were quite normal for lunch. Here in America, we already have an appreciation for enjoying a large salad for dinner in a restaurant or at home.
Jeanne Kelley is extending the salad as a main course idea in her new book, Salad for Dinner.
This is an organized book, which makes it easy to learn from. Recipes for salads are divided into salads made from vegetables, salads with meat, salads with chicken, and salads with fish. Before you get to the recipes, there are complete instructions on how to clean greens, how to forage for salad, and how to grow greens for salads. And there is a lot to learn. I had never heard of mizuna, tatsoi, puntarelle, or miner's lettuce. And many ingredients in the recipes are ones that I have never come accross, so it was fascinating to read through this cookbook.
Once I dug in and tried a few recipes, I was very content. The roasted acorn squash and brussels sprouts salad was superb and beautiful to look at with deep yellows, greens and deep reds---and it was absolutely delicious.
It's the flavor combinations Jeanne blends together that are so compelling. Beets and Blood Oranges and Goat Cheese and Almonds. Smoked Turkey and Port Figs and Blue Cheese and Whole Wheat Croutons. Mixed Greens with Farro and Bacon and Dates and Walnuts and Pears and Parmesan. See what I mean? Crunch and silk and salt and sweet all on one plate.
She really won me over when she didn't leave us hanging at the end of the cookbook full of salads. She gave us a desset to finish with, a luscious chocolate cream pie. This was her reasoning:
"I wanted to include one fantastic sweet in this book because, when you eat salad for lunch or dinner, shouldn't you be rewarded with dessert?"
Salad for Dinner by Jeanne Kelley (Rizzoli, 2012)