Sweet, tender greens from Blue Heron Farms
Fresh figs, soft greens, roasted nuts and a complementary cheese with a killer, super-easy dressing add up to a fast, healthy summer one-course meal. And all the ingredients are available from the Palo Alto Farmers Market (or a store within walking distance). But best of all, this combination TASTES SO GOOD! Besides, it’s fun to cruise the market with a meal in mind. If you can’t make it to the farmers market on Saturday morning, acceptable substitutes can be found at a good grocery store.
Ingredients (see below for more info and substitutes):
– salad greens
– fresh figs, washed and sliced
– toasted walnuts
– cheese (see below)
– dressing (see below)
Couldn’t be easier. Wash, dry and break into pieces the lettuces. Use the amount of lettuce you think you’ll eat (say, about 6 cups or so for 2 BIG servings with seconds). Put it into a big salad bowl and throw on top one diced garlic clove.
For this amount of salad, use around 8 figs (black or green, but black is prettier in the salad), slice them and put them into the bowl. Have ready chunks of cheese (see below) in whatever quantity seems right to you and about 1/2 cup of roasted nuts. Most delicious is if the nuts are freshly out of the oven.
Add directly to the bowl 2T of vinegar (see below) and 4T of oil (see below). See my post on “simple, delicious salads” for the easiest, tastiest way to make a “vinaigrette.” Add a little salt to taste, toss in the nuts and toss the whole salad. Serve with crusty bread.
Yum! Fresh California Mission Figs
The greens – I love, love the galisse lettuce from Blue Heron Farms, which is soft, delicate, sweet and a pretty pale green color that looks good in salads. The word is getting out about this terrific lettuce because I’ve seen it on a couple of restaurant menus and if often sells out early in the day at the market. Blue Heron’s other salad greens are also divine, such as their crisp yet flavorful little gem, red oak and perilla lettuces. No mixed greens from any supermarket come anywhere close. The other excellent place to buy salad greens at the PA Farmers Market is Coke Farms, whose deep plum-colored and ruffled lola rossa is an excellent companion to the galisse. These two are my salad mainstays.
Coke Farms lettuces
The cheese – In this salad, I really like the goat feta from Spring Hill Farms at the PA Farmers Market, but any of their cheeses that you like would do. Their delicious garlic curds would be complementary. Or try some of the non-soft-ripening cheeses from Cowgirl Creamery, also at the market. Figs are great with cheese. If you like stronger cheeses, look for a blue cheese at the market or buy one in the cheese department of Whole Foods, Draeger’s or Andronico’s. If you’re not adverse to stronger cheese, probably the best I’ve tried is the rich, tangy but not-over-the-top raw blue from Oregon’s Rogue Creamery, which is available at Whole Foods. Milder cheeses are fine, too, if that’s your preference. Sheep and goat cheeses are good. Try for a cheese with some flavor, however, because if it’s too bland (say, like a jack), its flavors will disappear in the salad. The cheese should be at room temperature and cut or crumbled into bite-sized pieces.
Hare Hollow vinegars are a great choice for this salad
The dressing – I recently discovered the products from Hare Hollow at the PA Farmers Market and they are wonderful for salads (well, for other things, too). Quite excellent for this salad is their ginger blackberry balsamic vinegar. They also make a fig date balsamic, which I haven’t tried yet but that would undoubtedly be great. Hare Hollow’s olive oils are very good as well, but for this particular salad, I like to use a domestic walnut oil that’s available at upscale groceries (Draeger’s, Whole Foods, etc.) and online by La Tourangelle. It is the closest thing to the fabulous roasted nut oils of France. La Tourangelle’s hazelnut oil would also be very good in this salad. Hare Hollow products can be ordered online but if you can’t get them, look for a fruit balsamic vinegar (like fig, berry or whatever) from an upscale grocery. This salad needs a sweeter dressing to pull the diverse ingredients together.