green(s)

I entertained folks in my kitchen for two nights in a row last week. One was a planned event (a friend’s birthday), and one was impromptu, encouraged, I do not doubt, by the lovely and dare-I-say-officially-spring (?) weather. Because Wednesday’s dinner consisted of a relatively simple but no less eggy/silky carbonara and then a half-batch of rice pudding for dessert, I was hoping Thursday could be a little more low-key. By which I mean low(er)-cal. And, you know, maybe not beige.

So we looked in my fridge and lo!: Fields (okay, shelves) of green! See, I had had a bit of a produce-gasm on my last grocery trip and had, in a single weekly rotation, transformed about 60% of my refrigerator into something like a tasty rainforest. I had everything we needed for a lovely dinner salad, except for maybe some protein. I had some bangin’ feta already (get the Trader Joe’s kind that’s packed in brine – comes in a little plastic box for about $5, and you get a LOT of cheese up in there, and it keeps for an age), so I figured, with a little chicken, we could go sort of Greek.
Fast-forward through our quick shopping trip (I love you, Rotisserie Thursdays at Whole Foods) and a chance, lovely conversation on the street with my down-the-hall neighbor, during which said rotisserie treasure, resting in my bike bag, nestled in the small of my back, began its work on scenting my surrounding 1-foot radius.
Back at the nest, I dismantle the chicken, saving the warm white meat for our salad, putting the rest in my fridge for chicken sandwiches, and handing the carcass over to Ed so he can have some very special DIY-chicken-stock time in his Bridgeport kitchen. I toss the meat onto a bed of greens & veggies, throw on a vinaigrette, and call it dinner.
Ed asks me how my salads taste so fresh. This question kind of makes me feel like I’m being secretly filmed for some sort of bagged salad commercial. And because I hadn’t thought actively about my treatment of leafy greens since… well, since I started making salads for myself in college, it took me a second to think about how I learned to store them.
Basically, I told him, your greens – especially small, fresh leaves (so stuff like mixed baby greens, spinach, arugula, etc) – actually do need a bit of air. If they’re squished into a bag, all of the moisture will glom right onto the greens and turn them to goo in under a day. If the moisture, however, has a place to hang around and create a generally pleasant, comfortably humid atmosphere, the greens will stay relatively happy and fresh – you should have about a week together in crisp yet tender bliss. So: When you seal up your salad greens, make sure the bag is sort of, well, puffy. Like a salad pillow. You should be able to shake the bag and see the leaves bounce around inside.
Okay, so onto the recipe:
Spring Salad with Chicken, Feta, and Honey Lemon Vinaigrette (serves 2, for dinner)
  • 2 chicken breasts, roasted (or sauteed, or whatever), cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 cup feta, crumbled
  • 1 huge handful mixed baby greens
  • 1 huge handful baby spinach
  • 1 cup celery, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, roughly chopped
  • 1 handful long green beans, steamed and blanched
For the vinaigrette, whisk the crap out of the following, then toss with the salad:
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon honey – ratchet this up more if you want a mellower dressing
  • 1-2 teaspoons dijon mustard (to taste)
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup olive oil (to taste)
  • salt & pepper
Arrange a small pile of green beans on each plate, then top with a huge lovely pile of salad. Throw on some pine nuts if you’ve got some around. I did, actually, have some around but forgot to use them, and I’m still having grinny daydreams about this salad.

Comments

  1. I am always struggling with the goo-greens problem. Living alone, I can never seem to consume all of the salad particulates that I so often gravitate towards at the market before they go bad. I have found myself buying spinach more often because it keeps longer. But one does not always want spinach. I will try this “pillow” technique, sounds promising. And gra, I have been CRAVING salad since mother nature has apparently decided that spring is overrated and skipped right on into summer. well timed.

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