It's easy to get stuck in a particular idea of how things should be, and lose sight of the huge world of possibility out there. This past weekend I attended an amazing conference, where producers and sound artists talked about the new things they were doing with radio production. It's changed the way I think about the stories I make. And a few days earlier, in a slightly-less-dramatic-but-perhaps-more-delicious development, I had a breakthrough in salad.
Salads slip into boring ruts fairly often. A head of lettuce, a vinaigrette, maybe a few slices of radish or cucumber. We forget that they can easily be so much more. Anything, really. Luckily there are stellar recipes to remind us. Grilled kale with ricotta and plums. Rhubarb, beet and blue cheese, or roasted eggplant with saffron yogurt. And, drawing inspiration from these sources, my own contribution to the genre.
During a trip to the farmer's market, I picked up a head of peppery mizuna and an adorable softball-sized melon, swayed by both the latter's knock-you-out perfume and the farmer saying that this would be the last one, as he'd just pulled up his plants for the season (I am a total gather-ye-rosebuds sap, it turns out). The bitter greens play beautifully against the drippy-sweet melon, and the fresh taste of mint (taken from a neighbors yard), bright pop of pomegranate seeds, and sprinkling of nuts come together to form something that pushes the idea of what a salad can be. It's beautiful, really, a perfect showcase for the fruits and vegetables of the season. And it's delicious.
Mizuna, Melon and Pomegranate Salad
1/2 bunch mizuna or other pepper green, torn into bite-sized pieces
1 very small melon, or 1/2 standard-sized, cut into small-ish chunks
1 handful mint leaves, torn
1 handful pomegranate seeds
1 handful lightly-toasted roughly-chopped hazelnuts or almonds
1 minced shallot (optional)
1 tablespoon fairly smooth vinegar, such as sherry
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper
Arrange all of the salad ingredients on a serving plate or individual plates. If using the shallot, add it to the vinegar in a small jar, and let sit for a few minutes to mellow. Add the remaining ingredients, stir to emulsify, and adjust to taste. Drizzle as needed on the salad, and serve.