Wednesday, June 26, 2013

La salade composée verte....

May already went by, pff... And June also (re  pfff). I just can't really remember why it went by so fast.. but May brought our first CSA produces: fresh rhubarb, fresh asparagus, fresh French beans, fresh garlic, fresh lettuces etc.  Petit plaisir du dimanche... Nothing better than fresh local produces... Even though I have to be more creative when it comes to serving the same vegetables weeks after weeks... I feel fortunate to be able to have access to and be able to afford such produces. That said, I don't purchase ALL the fruits & vegetables we eat from the local Farmers' market. For once, it would require me to spend even more time in the kitchen to find good recipes to cook with the vegetables -I-could-only-find-at-the-market-that-Sunday. Then, I am not sure that my family would approve of eating within the limitation of this supply (Kale is definively not their favorite food.... yet!)... but more importantly, our already-high-food budget would explode...  So we compromise or, rather, mix-and-match.  When mix-and-matching, I use Farmers' market produces for dishes where they are served with minimum transformation and supermarket produces for the rest. For instance, if I am only serving a zucchinis compotée, I will use the Farmer's market zucchinis. If I am making a ratatouille, I will use the local supermarket ones. I am sure there is a difference. Maybe I would be able to tell it. Would it really matter? No. Will we enjoy the dish as much? Yes.
The only time when I don't compromise is when fruits or veggies (generally from the supermarket, including high-end ones like Wholefoods) have no flavor. I'd rather not buy these produces and fall back on something else, even if it means serving it twice the same week, than purchasing des fruits et légumes sans goût. Fruits AND veggies are meant to be flavorful. The flavor might be subtle (zucchinis for instance) or fragrant (raspberries)... but they have to taste flavorful! Unfortunately, for the sake of supply chain, supermarkets have been pushing for growers to forgo flavorful varieties (heirloom varieties, anyone?) to the benefits of varieties that can travel miles (some of which have been genetically modified to do so...). And unfortunately, some of these travel-resistent varieties do not taste as good (Canadian tomatoes exported to Philadelphia in February? Really??) It's a shame but not matter how many fresh produces I want to include in our family diet, I will try to avoid purchasing those as much as I can.  I want my children to know to appreciate fresh good produces and develop a taste for them.  I don't believe that they are too young to do so; they are already there when it comes to certain fruits (pears and strawberries especially)... so even if Kale is definitively not their favorite vegetable (yet!), I'll keep serving different varieties to them so that maybe, just maybe, one tastes better to them than another. I know what I will get at the Farmer's market this week-end....

One of the salade composées I have been making with our CSA produces is what I call my "salade composée verte" (as opposed to a salade verte, which in French, means plain lettuce). My sister-in-law made one for us last year when we were in Singapore to visit. Since then I have been serving it many times, and as usual, playing with the ingredients that are available to me when I make it. The key is to have a good balance between bitter-sweet and crunchy....It will work with whatever you get at the Farmer's market this week-end or at your local supermarket. No worries! Bon Appétit!

  • 1 cup of cooked Quinoa (couscous or orzo would be fine too)
  • Aragula or mixed greens thinly sliced
  • Green veggies such as asparagus, snap peas, snow peas, cucumber, raw fresh zucchinis, avocados, edamame, celery etc.
  • Toasted Pumpkin seeds (for added crunch)
  • Green herbs (basil, parsley, tarragon, chive, green onions) - I generally pick one only.
  • Feta cheese (if you have to have cheese in your salad)
My Personal Comments:
  • There are no set-proportions but you want the veggies to dominate (ie, you don't put as much quinoa/couscous); the balance depends on what you like and have available to you. If you have fresh zucchinis, then I would not use cucumbers or celery.
  • If I have vegan or lactore-intolerant guests, I serve the feta cheese on the side
  • I serve it with a regular sauce vinaigrette for dressing