The Salad Days of Life

Today was the big day!  I harvested some of the lettuce from my garden for the first time!!

I started these greens from seeds about 6 weeks ago.  The packet said that some baby lettuce would be ready after 3 weeks but the weather was still pretty chilly so I imagine that it must have slowed the growth.  It really started to look prime for the picking about a week ago but I had some store bought salad mix to go through first.  The weather has been grey and rainy here lately but today was sunny and gorgeous which only tripled the feeling of absolute glee that came over me as I collected these tender leaves.

My garden has seen a lot of action lately.  Last weekend I put some tomato plants that I started from seeds (at around the same time as the lettuce) into some outside pots.

These are both heirloom varieties of tomatoes that I got from my friend Carrie back in New Jersey.  She gave them to me at least four years ago and they really did well!  Seeds are amazing things!  I also had some baby ‘taters that sprouted.  My friend Shannon is a farmer (also back in New Jersey) and when she was visiting me up here, she told me that I should just toss them in some dirt!  She said to plant them in a tall container and then just add more soil as the sprouts come up and when they flower, the potatoes will be ready!  I put those guys in an old container that was once designated for recycling (that has now been upcycled!) and we’ll see if anything comes from it!

Anyways, back to the salad!!!  I decided to make some dijon dressing as well as some homemade croutons to celebrate the occasion.

The dressing has a bit of a back story.  When Chris and I were in Europe two summers ago, we had a lot of delicious side salads.  They were usually a simple bed of greens dressed in a vinaigrette.  I searched the internetz high and low for a recipe and found a really good one!  I made a batch that my entire family loved!  The only problem?  I forgot to bookmark the site and was never able to locate it again!!  I finally found something that resembled it on the Bon Appetit website late last year and I did not make the same mistake twice!  I will share it with you….

Dijon Mustard Vinaigrette Dressing (adapted from Bon Appetit)

1/4 cup red-wine vinegar
1 large egg
2 tablespoons minced shallot
2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper

Toss all of the ingredients in a food processor (I have a small one that I use for sauces) or a blender and let it whirl for at least 3-4 minutes so it can emulsify.

A word about ingredients: I am a bit of a snob when it comes to this sort of thing.  I splurge on good quality eggs that are free range and local so I don’t have to worry about the issues that might come with the factory farmed variety.  Also, I do not have any Grey Poupon!   I was first inspired to start making my own salad dressing by my mother-in-law.  She always has fresh balsamic in her fridge!  When I first started out, I did some research.  I used to go to this amazing gourmet shop in Princeton and there was a gentleman who worked there who was extraordinarily knowledgeable when it came to just about anything that they sold!  Oils, spices, cheeses, vinegars….  I asked him about different mustards and vinegars and he recommended the Maille brand.  It is very common in France and the quality is better than what we have in the U.S.  You can order it on Amazon.  I find the cheaper brand of mustard to be overly bitter.  When you’re mixing a recipe that relies heavily on vinegar and mustard, you want them to taste good!

I was lucky enough to find an outstanding local brand up here! Provence Kitchen has a delicious dijon mustard that I greedily lick off of my fingers!  I really only use it in marinades and sauces so a small jar has managed to last a few months.  I buy mine at Whole Foods.

As you can see, my salad also featured some homemade croutons.  I had some baguette that was leftover from the day before that Chris brought home from Trader Joe’s.  As much as I love shopping there, the bread is not a selling point.  It’s practically stale by the time you get it home!  All of my homemade bread crumbs and croutons are easily churned out from that stuff!

It will be a while before I get anything more than lettuce or herbs from the garden.  Molly is especially anxious for these guys to be ready…

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About suthrncan

Southern girl who loves travel, farms, markets, bourbon, food trucks and a good cup of coffee!
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