Since I began working my way through Mark Bittman’s “101 Simple Salads for the Season”, I’ve not quite been able to keep up with the goal I set to make at least five salads in a seven day week. Most of the time, it’s simply that I was missing a key ingredient, or I hadn’t planned on making a trip to the market for the third time in three days. I’ve planned ahead, but even that has caused some problems because we all know that fresh produce won’t wait forever to be used. On weekends, I’ve been able to make a salad for my lunch, and then another for dinner, so I’ve made up a bit of time, but the goal isn’t necessarily to make all the salads by a particular date; instead, it is simply to make all the salads.
A few of you have mentioned that you’d like to get this book. It’s not a book — it’s a list that was printed last month in The New York Times. Each “salad” is really only a suggested list of ingredients and quantities mentioned only occasionally with phrases such as, “not a lot,” “a few,” “a bit,” and “loads.” I think that’s what I enjoy best about this experience. Cooking, or in this case, making salad isn’t necessarily about exact amounts of anything when you want something light and healthy without a lot of fuss. It’s more about learning what will taste well together and which textures contrast appealingly. It’s also about being able to relax a bit on dealing with a specific recipe, experimenting, and tasting as you go to decide how much of a particular flavor you enjoy.
As I’ve made each salad, I’ve only kept notes about what I’ve included in each salad, ingredients I’ve added, if any, and only occasionally, the quantities of dressing ingredients. We don’t use bottled or packaged salad dressing , so experimenting with flavors is always something we enjoy. If a dressing works especially well, then I will keep a quantity list, but even then, the amounts will be estimates. There are no measuring cups or spoons — only squirts, glugs, and dollops of this and that along the way.
I’ve featured salads Nos. 29, 13, and 14 in respective posts, but in keeping with the spirit of simplicity, I’ve decided to group more of them together in a single post. We’ll see how that goes. In the meantime, make a salad! Fourteen down, seemingly a million to go.