Well now, I couldn’t prepare and post this fresh salad from my garden the past few days due to a ‘Boil Water Alert’ in my bustling Philadelphia suburb of Blue Bell. Yes, yes, I know it sounds like the old ‘dog ate my homework’ routine but in this case it is true, the dog really did eat my homework.
The bursting planters on my deck filled with varieties of leaf lettuces, including today’s ‘Salad Bowl Red’ and lots of brightly colored pots filled with herbs have sat untouched this week all but by the intermittent belting rain storms and gusty winds insuring ample, likely too many, droplets of moisture to the blossomed greens and its rich surrounding soil. Even the flocking Canadian Geese have been showing annoyance except towards their newly arrived furry offspring whereby looking my way with a mere snub of a beak before assuming defiant posture as if to say, ‘don’t even think of messing with me’ whoa, while their little ones help themselves in the garden, mostly to fallen bird seeds from the feeder above.
Something just didn’t seem right anyway about boiling pots of water for cooling before soaking or pouring over such freshly picked green and curly reddish tinted delicacies, not to mention that I used to work in the Division of my county health department tasked with food borne diseases and outbreaks so the questionable aspects on sharing this salad early in the week might appear, well, questionable.
There is little good to be shared about having to use bottled water for nearly every kitchen task and even wondering what might have been lurking in that said boiling water, but, just like laundry that never ends, yesterday or today, the dishes still need doing no matter what the delayed excuse and a few days’ worth involves a lot of dish washing re-dos, glassware, coffee mugs, and even when eating Palermo’s Pizza, the only open food take-out establishment in town during the episode.
But there is much good to be shared about growing one’s own lettuce, whether in a long deck planter or in bunched rows of a garden, it’s all especially good, flavorful and nutritious. Made even more special when the water from your sink is officially deemed usable and the light sprays of clear cool pull away any small bits of clinging dirt revealing tender clean leaves, carefully dried, torn and mixed with combined pungent flavors and scents of fresh herbs, a bit of added tart sour, Garden Planter ‘Salad Bowl Red’ Lettuce, Fresh Herbs, Lemon Poppyseed Vinaigrette.
- 8 cups baby red leaf lettuce, approximately 2 cups per person ('Salad Bowl Red is the variety)
- 1/8 cup fresh parsley, chopped
- 6-8 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves removed from stem then chopped
- 6-8 fresh mint leaves, chopped
- 1 stem lemon verbena, about 14 leaves, removed from stem and chopped
- 6-8 fresh basil leaves, chopped
- 2 pinches sugar
- juice of 1 whole lemon
- 1 scant tablespoon white wine vinegar
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon poppy seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or more to taste
- Clean lettuce leaves and dry, a salad spinner is helpful if desired. Break lettuce leaves into small pieces and place into a bowl. Add fresh chopped herbs into the salad bowl, tossing well together with the lettuce. Drizzle an 1/8 cup Lemon Poppy Seed Vinaigrette into salad adding more a little at a time to desired flavor.
- Into a glass bowl sprinkle in a couple small pinches of sugar then pour in the white wine vinegar and fresh lemon juice. Whisk in the extra virgin olive oil vigorously a little at a time to emulsify then add in poppy seeds, stir, sprinkle in the kosher salt, whisk again and check seasoning adding extra salt or a bit more sugar if desired. Vinaigrette may be kept refrigerated for up to five days.