Other People's Salads

And how to steal them

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OF ALL THE DEADLY SALAD-RELATED SINS, allowing cucumbers to liquefy in the back of my crisper is the one that I commit, however rarely, with the most shame. (I love cucumbers! I buy too many! So wasteful!)

But envy is the sin that I commit most frequently and un-guiltily. I’ll gladly go straight to hell for coveting your salad dressing—not to mention snooping through your old recipe notebooks or recipe box while “visiting” you, hoping to find out how you make it without asking you.

To offset my sins, I try to always credit recipes that directly inspire my own.

On the other hand, I also like to steal recipes and publicly admit it. My Purloined Beet and Lentil Salad, which I included in this early issue of the Department of Salad, is a good example. Is it mine? I call it mine. But simultaneously admitting I stole it is an act that I truly believe will be my ticket out of recipe-developer purgatory.

I hope God also notices that I love to share great salads by FSP (Famous Salad People), hoping you somehow missed them. For instance, right now I am praying you have never made two of my recent favorite salads, which require very little effort but reward you with a heavenly flavors and textures.

The first is from the great New York Times food writer and cookbook author Melissa Clark. Her Avocado Salad with Herbs and Capers, which I first made back in April and have made many times since, is lush, sparky, tart and gorgeously virid. I wish someone would start a food truck that served nothing but this salad—and that it would follow me everywhere I go. As you can see from my photo, I like a lot of capers.

*RECIPE: Melissa Clark’s Avocado Salad with Herbs and Capers

Serves 4

  • 1 large bunch Italian flat leaf parsley

  • 2 scallions, very finely chopped

  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and very finely chopped

  • 1 to 2 garlic cloves, finely grated or minced

  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt, more to taste

  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, more to taste

  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil, more for serving

  • 4 Haas avocados, peeled, pitted and sliced

  • 4 teaspoons capers, drained

  • flaky salt and black pepper

  1. Reserve a cup of whole cilantro leaves; finely chop the rest of the leaves and tender stems. Transfer chopped leaves to a medium bowl.

  2. Reserve a cup of whole parsley leaves; finely chop the rest of the leaves and tender stems. Transfer chopped parsley to the bowl with the cilantro. Add scallions, jalapeño, garlic, fine salt and vinegar. Stir in oil. Taste and add more salt, vinegar or both, if needed.

  3. Scatter the whole cilantro and parsley leaves over 4 serving plates. Fan the avocados out on top, and sprinkle lightly with fine salt to taste. Spoon the herb dressing over the avocado, making sure to include the oil in the bowl, and top with capers. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt and black pepper and serve.

The second FSP Salad is from the bestselling cookbook author Alison Roman (who also has a terrific newsletter). I was planning on embellishing this salad (beyond recognition) for the DOS. But when my friend Wyler and I made it, we realized it was perfectly exquisite exactly the way it was. So I’m not going to tell you about the inappropriate things I did to it before I realized I should just knock it off and go back to the original. More people should do this when they are stealing Roman’s recipes.

Right now is the right time to make this salad, because the cantaloupes seem to be outdoing themselves this summer; Roman says don’t bother with this recipe if you can’t find “crazy ripe” ones. I did diverge from her instructions slightly: I used regular baby organic arugula—tame rather than wild. And I used a plain old cantaloupe rather than a Charentais, because I am nothing fancy.

*RECIPE: Alison Roman’s Cantaloupe with Arugula and Black Olives, from her book Dining In

Serves 4

  • 2 tablespoons OIL CURED black olives, pitted, very finely chopped

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 small or 1/2 large very ripe cantaloupe, canary, or Charentais melon, peeled, seeds removed, and sliced 1/2 inch thick

  • 2 cups wild arugula

  • 1 lemon

  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh chives

  1. Combine the olives and olive oil in a small bowl.

  2. Arrange the cantaloupe and arugula on a large platter.

  3. Squeeze the lemon all over the top, sprinkle with the chives, and drizzle with the olive mixture. Finish with flaky sea salt and pepper.

The third and final salad, from me and the boys in the lab, came about as one small result of a couple of open threads our special subscriber crowd participated in, during a midweek newsletter. We talked about favorite restaurant salads and, more recently, which salad ingredients you’d like us to focus on in upcoming issues.

It’s a restaurant salad, and it’s also purloined (I gotta be me!)—although, in my defense, I have never seen or tasted the original. It caught my eye when I was browsing Atlanta menus recently, but I haven’t yet eaten at Leon’s Full Service, in Decatur, GA. The mere ingredient list spoke to me—plus it features broccoli, which quite a few of you rightly pointed out, is vegetable underused and mistreated in salads.

Leon’s grills their broccoli; I have no idea what they do with their cabbage (I like mine crunchy); and their miso vinaigrette is a mystery to me. And yet, I persisted.

Luckily, creating a salad this way doesn’t count as a Salad Sin. Or that’s what I’m hoping. I am also hoping you enjoy the delicious result, which I claim “serves four” but which served only me because I couldn’t stop eating it.

*RECIPE: Another Purloined Salad: Roasted Broccoli Division

Serves 4

  • 4 generous stalks of broccoli, florets snapped off by hand, large stalks reserved for another use (I just peel them and snack on them); you want about 5 cups of florets. Cut any giant ones in half.

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 clove of garlic, grated (use your microplane!)

  • big pinch of red pepper flakes (I used 1/4 teaspoon)

  • salt and pepper

  • 1/4 of a medium-small head of red cabbage, very thinly sliced crosswise

  • 2-3 big handfuls of baby arugula

  • 1/2 cup roasted salted peanuts, roughly chopped (I used dry roasted; nice!)

  • 1 large scallion, thinly sliced, including some of the green

  • 3-4 tablespoons of Emily’s Miso Vinaigrette (below)

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F (218° C)

  2. Place the broccoli florets in a large bowl. In a jar, shake together the olive oil and grated garlic and drizzle it over the broccoli. Toss to evenly coat.

  3. Spread the broccoli on a sheet pan and season with the salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Roast until the broccoli has begun to blacken in large spots and is no longer fully crisp but also not mushy, 20-25 minutes. Move it around once or twice. You want it to reach the point of collapse but remain gently crisp. It should still have a bit of fight.

  4. In a large bowl, combine the roasted broccoli, the cabbage, and the arugula. Drizzle with a couple of tablespoons of the dressing and gently toss to coat. Taste it and add more dressing if necessary. Serve at once, garnished with the toasted nuts, scallions, and more dressing on the side, if desired.

Emily’s Miso Vinaigrette

  • 2 tablespoons white miso

  • 1 tablespoon canola oil

  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup

  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar

  • 2 tablespoons lime juice

  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil

  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce

Place all the ingredients in a jar with a tight-fitting lid and shake shake shake until emulsified.

THAT’S IT. WE’RE DONE HERE. Enjoy your belle salades. Midweek, for paid subscribers, we’ll have another delicious bauble. Thanks for reading, and don’t forget to share the Department of Salad: Official Bulletin with your friends and loved ones who deserve it.

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