Salad Inspirations

There’s something thrilling about food shopping without a recipe. Last night I hungered for a salad, and I made my way to Whole Foods (I’ve been making my way to Whole Foods way too often lately) and stood in the produce section waiting for inspiration to alight.

“Excuse me,” said a woman, “You’re blocking the aisle.”

“One moment,” I snapped, “I’m waiting for inspiration to alight.”

She threw a tomato at my head.

That’s when I had a vision:

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I will make a salad with pre-packaged lettuces—but exotic ones, with frisee because that’s sophisticated! And I will roast some beets and add tangerine and bleu cheese! And so I found a tangerine—actually it was a tangelo, kind of a tangerine/orange combo—and bought “nutty, slightly sweet” bleu cheese from the cheese section. This was a big step for me because I come from a Cheesophobic family [my family, by the way, is still without electricity two days after Hurricane Wilma plowed through South Florida—trees toppled, roof tiles fell, and they’re cooking frozen peas on a Coleman stove to survive! Hopefully things will get better for them soon!] and bleu cheese is the final obstacle in my slowly advancing appreciation of cheese. I really like how bleu cheese works in this salad: I stole the idea from Deborah, where I ate a few weeks ago, pairing it with the tangelo and the beets to contrast the intense pungency.

As for the beets, I roasted them at 400 degrees in foil pouches—this time drizzled with olive oil, a touch of balsamic, and salt and pepper. At one hour, I stabbed them and removed them. They were more flavorful than the last time I roasted them just alone in the pouch. So I now have a beet-roasting technique I can be proud of.

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