>Salad Days

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Salad Days – a phrase coined by Shakespeare in 1606 in Anthony & Cleopatra, when she refers to her dalliance with Julius Caesar: “…My salad days,/ When I was green in judgement, cold in blood….” (thank you Wikipedia for the reference). More recently it has come to refer to times of youthful exuberance, carefree living, and an idyllic and enthusiastic outlook. 

I’d like to think that I’m looking forward to some salad days in the near future.  I’d like to think that we all are – that things are going to start looking up, that our worries will be lessened and our outlooks will become hopeful again.   In the absence of salad days, though, today I bring you salads that might get you through days that are less than idyllic.

A strange confluence of events brought me to tonight’s dinner menu.  I was faced with a fair lack of motivation and a refrigerator full of broccoli, half a rotisserie chicken and some eggs.

The abundance of broccoli was the result of my participation in my son’s school’s healthy lifestyles activities last week – we gave out samples of fresh broccoli, grape tomatoes and cauliflower during lunch.  At the end of it all, we were left with quite a lot of fresh vegetables, and the school cafeteria couldn’t (sadly) utilize them.  So we split everything up and took it home.  I was faced with nearly 20 pints of grape tomatoes and 5 lbs. of broccoli florets.  I’ve used most of the tomatoes at this point, having put together two jars of homemade ketchup that are now fermenting on my counter next to a vat of sauerkraut. The broccoli, however, has been less inspiring.
I worked a cultivation/stewardship event last night, one of the last I’ll have to attend at my current place of employment.  It was catered by JCT. Kitchen, and the food was fabulous.  I especially enjoyed their deviled eggs – they were stuffed with the lightest yolk mixture I’ve ever encountered, sprinkled with chives and topped with thinly sliced country ham.  I don’t know what they used in the deviling process, but I don’t think it was the typical mayonnaise/mustard/worcesterchire sauce mixture.  I went to sleep dreaming about them and woke up craving them, so I decided to try to replicate them this afternoon.  I know it’s not really deviled egg season (I associate them with summer barbecues and picnics), but I just had to try.

 I began by boiling six eggs.  My method for obtaining perfectly boiled eggs (sans green yolks) is pretty simple – I bring a pot of water to a boil, gently place the eggs in the boiling water using a slotted spoon, and allow them to boil for one minute.  After one minute, I turn off the heat, cover the pot, and let it sit for 15 minutes.  Then I drain the eggs and run cold water over them to halt the cooking process.  I’m rewarded with perfectly boiled eggs every time – tender whites and golden yolks, slightly translucent in the center.

I sliced the eggs in half and placed the yolks in the bowl of my food processor,  I seasoned them with unrefined sea salt and freshly ground pepper.  I then turned on the food processor and drizzled a couple tablespoons of olive oil through the feed tube.  I added a teaspoon of rice vinegar and a pinch of honey granules.  The resulting yolk mixture was light, airy and delicious.  I used extra virgin olive oil, so that flavor was definitely prominent – next time I’ll try using a more neutrally flavored oil (I was even thinking that avocado oil would be good for this application – or maybe just plain avocado).

So there I was with these delicious deviled eggs, but nothing else for dinner.  Deviled eggs make me think of picnics and picnics make me think of salads – chicken salad, egg salad, pasta salad, fruit salad, etc.  I know it’s not summer, and it doesn’t even really feel like spring outside right now, but a dinner comprised of picnic-type foods sounded like just the ticket.

I knew I had that half of a rotisserie chicken in the fridge, so chicken salad seemed like a logical choice.  I’m a fan of fruit in my chicken salad, so I chopped up an apple and toasted some pumpkin seeds (I like nuts in my chicken salad – almonds in particular – but the husband is allergic, so pumpkin seeds are a great alternative).  After pulling the meat off the chicken carcass, I diced it up and added the fruit and seeds and stirred it all together with about 1/4 cup of mayonnaise and seasoned it with salt and pepper.

Next up was the broccoli – I decided a cold broccoli and tomato salad with artichoke hearts and pumpkin seeds would be tasty.  I barely steamed two cups of broccoli florets and quartered about 15 grape tomatoes and 7 or 8 artichoke hearts.  I tossed it all with two tablespoons of olive oil, a teaspoon of lemon juice and some salt and pepper.

I toasted some homemade sandwich bread for the sandwiches.  As an aside, this last batch of sandwich bread that I baked – perfect.  Soft and light, very similar in texture to store-bought whole-wheat bread, but so much better. I plan to bake a batch tomorrow, so I’ll make sure and take pictures and post the recipe this weekend.

The whole meal was like a ray of sunshine on a dreary day – bright flavors, interesting textures and beautiful colors.  The eggs were very similar to the ones from JCT. Kitchen, although I was lacking the ham and chives to really gild the lily.  It was damp and windy outside, but these simple salads (did you know that some folks in the bible belt call deviled eggs “salad eggs” in an effort to avoid reference to anything devilish?) were a nice reminder that spring is on its way.

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4 Comments on “>Salad Days”

  1. 1 April 2011 at 2:11 am #

    >Lovely looking salad!

  2. Paula
    3 April 2011 at 2:28 pm #

    >I shouldn't have looked at this post so early. I'd love to eat everything that you've made here and I haven't had breakfast yet!

  3. 3 April 2011 at 3:39 pm #

    >Very fancy looking dinner, considering it's "simple". Seems like something Hubby could purchase if we went to a fancy Spa for lunch.I make deviled eggs quite a few times over the summer, so I'll have to try this version – I think my family would enjoy it greatly!

  4. 3 April 2011 at 10:08 pm #

    >What a lovely trio on your plate!

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