Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Sorry I haven't posted in a while.
I was on my honeymoon in New Zealand, where we had some lovely meals, including a lamb Greek salad that is, I think due to the quality of the meat, the best Greek salad I've ever had. And it was at an English pub?
Also, have you tried fried taro root? Or what I think may be my favorite flavor of ice cream EVER, Hokey Pokey? The candy is good, but not nearly as good as the ice cream...
(Or seen Hobbiton? I hate to gloat, but OMG, if I could legally show you pictures of the fully dressed sets for "The Hobbit" that we saw, I totally would. Here's a taste, from someone else who can get in trouble instead of me.)
More importantly for you, while we were gone, most of the snow melted and the local farms and greenhouses started churning out the spring greens.
This week, I ordered some mache from Idaho's Bounty. I think I've had it in restaurants before, but never purchased it until now -- and apparently, according to a Google search I just did, I'm a little behind the times. It's a vaguely sweet, vaguely nutty leaf, but delicate in flavor, with not a lot of green leaf per stem, at least in the early-season version I got today.
I'm not sure if this is fortunate or not, but mache apparently can't be machine harvested, so its cost is usually much higher than other lettuces, but most of Idaho's Bounty's greens are a bit higher in price than grocery store greens anyway because they're hand-harvested, so I think I came out on the good side of that equation.
I started by looking up recipes for mache on Epicurious, my go-to site for recipe exploration. None of them had the mache heated, which after having a salad of it, I understand. It'd just disintegrate if you tried to wilt it, I think. Most of the recipes paired the mache with a fat (olive oil, avocado, pancetta, etc), and something with texture (green apples, Bing cherries, pistachios, etc).
So I threw some olive oil and a sprinkling of powdered chipotle in a fry pan, cut two small (stale) tortillas into 1/4" slices, and browned them in the medium-heat oil -- though in retrospect I should have let them brown a bit more -- then let them dry on paper towels. I trimmed the greens and tips off the mache (ending with probably about three to four very loose cups) and put them in a bowl, added a few tablespoons of pine nuts. Incidentally, is anyone else incredibly disappointed by the high price of pine nuts this year?
I then shaved some Manchego cheese (from Costco!) on top, drizzled on a tablespoon or two of the Persian lime olive oil (oh, nom nom nom) from Stonehouse California that we got for our wedding, and ground some fresh peppercorns over all of that. About half the fried tortilla strips topped it off, and voila...
This salad was surprisingly satisfying, I think primarily because of the oil, nuts and tortillas, but also delicious, thanks to the previously mentioned ingredients plus the mache, which stood up quite well to what I layered all over it.
(Above, the first image is my salad; the second is one I found on Google images, and I'm probably stealing it from someone. Sorry about that.)