I should call this the Monet salad. I’m teasing, of course, but whenever I see varying tones of green and purple with touches of blue, I think of French Impressionist Claude Monet’s most famous and recognizable series of paintings — Waterlilies.
To be accurate, I’d have to specify which waterlilies painting, there are so many created over many years spanning most seasons and at varying times of the day. It’s impossible for me to choose a favorite. Although I appreciate his more precise earlier work, what I enjoy more are the hazy, increasingly abstract pieces that were a result of the cataracts clouding his vision in later years. Not only did they alter the clarity with which he saw the world, they distorted color as well.
It’s impossible not to think of taking time while we’re in Paris to see the work of Monet, my favorite Impressionist. Although we aren’t planning a day trip to Giverny where he lived (a good reason to return to France some day) while we’re in Paris, we are planning on visiting a few museums. It seems most people venture to the Musee de l’Orangerie where enormous, gently curving panels of waterlilies surround a light-filled gallery, but I’m tempted to take the tourist path less traveled and view the largest collection of his work at Musee Marmotten. Regardless of the choice — and the popularity of the Waterlilies — I will wonder whether I will be able to see my favorites (in the public domain according to Copyright law of France):
The Garden of Monet at Argenteuil (1873)
Poppy Field, Argenteuil (1875)
Poplars on the Banks of the River Epte, Seen from the Marsh (1892)
Houses at Argenteuil
The Promenade, Woman with a Parasol (1875)
My husband bought me a large print of the one just above not too long after we were married, and so it is the best of all in my opinion. I love all of the glorious light in it and the brilliance of the sky.
In the meantime, I’d love another plate of this Green Salad with Blueberries, Apples & Mustard Chive Vinaigrette I sprinkled with blue cheese and walnuts. The salad isn’t exactly French, but the vinaigrette is a classic preparation which includes a bit of mustard. When one of my husband’s younger brothers was marriednot too long ago, he and his bride honeymooned in Paris and brought back three small jars of flavored mustard. I’ve used the Moutard au Noir or Black Mustard in this vinaigrette and it was just the right touch to make this salad truly exceptional.
Start out by making the vinaigrette. I have a small bunch of chives growing in a pot so I used those, but shallots or minced green onions would work just fine.
Mix all of the ingredients together except the oil. Speaking of the oil, I used grapeseed oil (I’ll tell you why in my notes), but you can use extra virgin olive oil.
Then drizzle in the oil while whisking, or shake everything up in a jar. You choose — I do both as it suits me. Store in the fridge until ready to use.
To make the salad, I used red onions because they’re pretty and I always have them. They can be on the spicy side so taste a bit and decide how much you want to use.
Sliced snap peas went in because their crunchy, sweet taste is a good contrast to the other flavors in the salad.
I had to put an avocado in this because I love them, I had a fruit theme in mind from the start, and they add a healthy creamy consistency to the finished salad.
I love making apple matchsticks — they add a nice texture to a salad and the tartness of the green apples I used perfect. But choose any apple you like. You know what they say about an apple a day.
I chose spinach for this salad because I like its mild flavor and it’s packed with nutrients. But I also chose a more tart salad green — escarole. To remove some of the bitterness that you may not enjoy, soak the leaves in ice water, then dry them thoroughly before adding them to the salad. If you’re not one for bitter greens, then use the salad greens you enjoy most.
Finish the salad with blueberries, a sprinkle of good blue cheese and some walnuts. If you’re not a fan of blue cheese, use a mild, soft goat cheese.
Drizzle on some of the mustard chive vinaigrette, sprinkle a few more blueberries, cheese, and walnuts for each serving and voila!
A salad perfect for a lovely sunny day outside on the patio. Spread a table cloth, invite a friend or two to share and relax.
- For the Vinaigrette
- 2 T sour cream
- 1 T brown mustard
- 2 T lemon juice
- 1 anchovy, mashed
- ¼ chives, chopped
- 2 T grapeseed oil
- salt & pepper
- For the Salad
- 3 c baby spinach
- 2 c escarole
- ¼ red onion, sliced
- 1 c snap peas, sliced
- ½ avocado, cubed
- ½ green apple, cut into matchsticks
- ¼ c blue cheese, crumbled
- ¼ walnut pieces
- Make the vinaigrette first by mixing the sour cream, mustard, lemon juice, anchovy and chives.
- Drizzle in the oil while whisking until well blended.
- Taste, then season to your liking with salt & pepper.
- To make the salad, soak the escarole in ice water for 30 minutes as you prepare the other ingredients. Dry well afterwards.
- Combine the spinach and escarole in a large bowl.
- Add the other ingredients finishing with the blue cheese and walnuts.
- Divide among plates before dressing, or if you prefer, pour the vinaigrette over the entire salad and toss well before serving.
- To get the best taste of all ingredients, thoroughly chop.
- This salad happened because when I unpacked my grocery bags one day, I saw the color of the greens, apples, blueberries, and onions and truly did think of those “Monet colors” I mentioned above. I love them so much our bedroom sported them a few years. They’re quite calming.
- Although I’ve long been a fan of the walnut-apple-blue cheese flavor combo in just about anything, I wondered about what the blueberries would bring to the perfect bite of this salad. I’ve never loved raw blueberries — I eat them because they’re incredibly good for my body. They have a sweet tartness that fits perfectly with this blend.
- I love a good vinaigrette — especially when there is a bit of mustard involved. This recipe is adapted from one in a favorite cookbook: Parisian Home Cooking by Michael Roberts. There’s just the right amount of added cream in this but if you want to exclude it, add the avocado to the dressing instead of the sour cream and blend it. It will be creamy.
- You can read about the health benefits of grapeseed oil in more detail here. It’s packed with so many good nutrients and has been found to raise the level of antioxidants in our blood — something which is believed to have an impact on cancer.
- The walnuts and blueberries ramp up the antioxidants in this salad also.
- If you’re in a salad rut, I highly recommend that you try this. I loved every bite of it! Definitely a new favorite — a very healthy and beautiful favorite.