Over 15 years ago, we visited the Galapagos Islands. Anyone who has studied Charles Darwin knows that these islands can have a strong and lasting impact on a young mind. Our trip lasted seven days. To this day, we show our affection for one another by performing the mating dance of the blue-footed booby.
When it comes to eating salad, we still channel our inner giant tortoise. The tortoises of the Galapagos grow to five feet in diameter and can weigh over 800 pounds. We never saw these giants in the wild, but at the Conservation Center we watched them devour leaves by the bushel. Their movements were slow and deliberate. Their focus was absolute. Imagine a speed-eating contest filmed in Matrix Bullet Time.
The tortoises were unperturbed by visitors. In fact, they could give a rat’s ass about the noise and the photographs as long as no one got between them and their leafy greens.
We serve our nightly salad from a bowl better sized for movie theater popcorn. As far as we are concerned—and we assure you that the tortoises agree—there is no such thing as too much salad.
To be clear, we are not vegetarians like the giant tortoises. Nor are we adherents to the raw food movement. We just love salad.
As far as we are concerned, a huge salad topped with some kind of meat is one of the great pleasures of being an omnivore. At the risk of stepping into the seedy world of food porn, we’d like to share a few recent salad creations:
It is a rare week when we do not have a Burger Salad. In its most simple form, the Burger Salad is a hamburger with no bun and no fries, sitting on a bed of lettuce. In practice, however, it can be so much more. This one was topped with bacon, avocado and grilled onions. The dressing was a simple balsamic vinegar and olive oil; you can find that recipe in Three Awesome Salad Dressings.
The French have known for centuries that salad is not just for lunch and dinner. We visited France a few years ago and we were blown away by the fact that most restaurants offered and choice at breakfast between potatoes and a small salad. We have since adopted this tradition as our own. We have also adopted the tradition of occasionally stopping traffic for no reason other than to remind the world that we are still here.
Steak, Salad and Kale
Sometimes our greens fetish cannot be satisfied by salad alone. We occasionally double up and serve greens two ways. In this case, the salad is dressed with champagne vinaigrette. We shared our Perfect Kale Recipe early last year. Consider this proof that we make it all the time.
The idea of tossing ribs into an arugula salad is stolen from Rick Mason, the chef/owner of Far Western Tavern in Guadalupe, California. He served his version at the Hospice du Rhone wine event last year and we have been riffing on it ever since. Barbequed ribs tossed in a spicy sauce and then hidden beneath mounds of fresh arugula is so tasty and so perfectly tuned to DYC that we’re embarrassed that we didn’t think of it first.
The key is to a successful Rib Salad is to let the ribs cool to warm and then toss them into the salad right before serving. If the ribs are too hot, the arugula wilts to the slimy texture of leaves decaying at the bottom of a lake. If you are patient and let the ribs cool, the results are beyond amazing.
This may be cheating. The seared duck breast is technically salad adjacent. In our opinion, duck is best served hot. Throwing it on top would cook the salad to a wilted mess. Our compromise is to serve them side-by-side and then mix them bite-by-bite. For this salad we used a variation of our champagne vinaigrette that omitted the mustard and split the vinegar 50/50 with fresh squeezed orange juice.
Winter Greens Salad
We are big fans of using the greens that happen to be in season. Right now, winter greens are at their peak in California. The base of this salad is our recipe for Raw Kale Salad. The kale is massaged with avocado, lemon juice and salt, which greatly improves the texture and removes almost all of the bitterness. We then improvised and threw in arugula, radicchio, chicories, pomegranate seeds and pieces of blood orange for sweetness. We dressed it with citrus and champagne vinaigrette with a bit of the blood orange juice added to tie it together.
The key to a successful winter salad is to balance bitter greens such as radicchio and chicories with fresh fruit. The sweetness is needed to cut the bitterness. Give it a try. If you are anything like us, you’ll find yourself looking forward to the winter months.
This is cheating. DYC lists grains, such as those used in pizza crust, as “Avoid.” The reason is simple. These grains are very high in calories with very little nutritional value to show for it. As drinkers, we need to avoid these kinds of foods in order to make room for the calories in alcohol. That said, DYC is a diet not a religion. Moreover, 90% compliance is still considered an A on Major Morgan’s Grading Scale. In other words, as long as you don’t do this too often you will be fine.
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