With a new book comes new ideas. Salad For Supper. Patricia Wells, inspirational cooking teacher and author, tantalizes with her new cookbook Salad As A Meal, a concept that speaks of ease, freshness, light meals, casual concoctions. Don't approach this with notions of a messy hodgepodge thrown into a salad bowl. No no no. Here we have lovely, gentle tossings of elegantly simple elements that work together to build a sum greater than its parts.
Then, there are the things that go with salad for supper, some gentle soups, homemade crackers, the wines we may like to enjoy. Salad As A Meal takes us by the hand and invites us inside Patricia Wells' charmed life in the south of France, enabling our participation in the creation of sun-drenched foods and easy living. Cookbooks like this promote the fullfillment of a fantasy, a portal to a kinder, gentler world where people sip wine and eat canapes under the canopy of an oak tree. While some elements of our own lives may differ, we can adapt the themes and menus to our own circumstances and get one step closer to creating our own happy retreats within our own homes.
So, which salad should I tell you about? Thai Beef? Potato Salad With Capers, Spring Onions and Mint? Pear, Blue Cheese, Fennnel, Endive and Salted Almond? Vietnamese Chicken and Green Papaya? Marinated Shrimp? You may have noticed that some of these creations are not particularly French, as are many of Patricia Wells' notable recpes. No matter. They are inspired and fresh, trademarks of Wells' casual, elegant style. The more I browse Salad As A Meal, the more enthralled I am with this book. Here is a salad that calls out to me:
Crab, Avocado and Quinoa Salad With Technicolour Tomatoes
3 cups water or stock; 1/2 tsp. kosher salt; 1 cup quinoa, well rinsed and drained; 2 bay leaves; 1 pound (2 cups) lump crabmeat, cooked; 1/4 cup minced fresh tarragon or Italian parsley; 1/2 cup minced fresh mint leaves; 1 large rip avocado, halved, pitted, peeled and cubed; 2 cups mixed red, yellow and green cherry or pear tomatoes, halved.
In a large saucepan, bring water or stock to a boil. Add salt, quinoa and bay leaves. Bring back to a boil and then reduce heat to low, cover the pan and simmer until the quinoa is tender and translucent, about 15 minutes. Drain and return quinoa to pan. Cover with a clean dish towel, replace the lid and let it sit for 10 minutes. Discard bay leaves and let quinoa cool.
Place cooled quinoa in a large, shallow bowl. Add crabmeat, tarragon, mint and avocado. Toss with a dressing of your choice. Patricia likes this Yogurt and Lemon Dressing:
Combine 1 tbsp. lemon zest and 1 tbsp. fine sea salt in a spice grinder and grind to a fine powder. Take 1/4 tsp. of this lemon salt and combine it with 1/2 cup plain low-fat yogurt and 2 tbsp. of fresh lemon juice. Shake well to blend. Adjust seasoning and add pepper if you like. Serve with quinoa salad.
Let your days be salad days: