key players

I’m hopelessly fickle when it comes to salads. One meal I fall hard for a fiery greek number studded with olives and the next I’m all about avocados laced with sprouts. Days later I’ll proclaim shaved asparagus with lemon and parmesan the best salad ever. I can’t help it. I’m in love with them all.

spring love

But if I absolutely had to pick my most treasured salad, it would have to be the first, no-frills lettuce salad straight from the spring garden. I change it up depending on what’s available, but my go to combination is a head of velvety buttercrunch lettuce tossed with thin radish slices and scallions.

I realize this is hardly a fair time of year to be making such sweeping declarations, but this one I can defend. Even when the sturdy greens of fall start rolling in, I’ll hold tight. A garlicky caesar based kale salad or romaine quarters tossed on the grill with crumbled blue cheese might give these simple inaugural spring salads a run for their money, but if push came to shove, I know which one I’d pick.

Spring is continuing to drag her feet on up into northern Wisconsin. We’ve barely seen a day over 50ºF in the last three weeks. My spinach and lettuce seedlings are perpetually stuck at 3 inches tall. So I nearly cried last week when I opened my highly anticipated Hermit Creek Farm “spring kick-start” CSA box and found all the key players. Gorgeous ruby radish globes, tall perky scallions, and a head of soft, papery thin buttercrunch lettuce. I think I actually had to sit down and catch my breath.

Of course with every salad comes the conundrum of dressing. Typically I am not a creamy salad dressing sort of person. I’ll take a vinaigrette or even just a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and coarse salt over a cream dressing almost any day. Mayonnaise and buttermilk hardly ever get involved. So it’s peculiar that my choice dressing for my proclaimed darling is cream. Almost pure cream. With just a splash of vinegar and pinch of sugar added. The sweet, tangy light cream makes a perfect shroud for spring lettuce. It’s creamy, but it’s delicate. It doesn’t overtake the greens – my number one rule with any dressing.

farmhouse dressing

You remember Grandma Myrtle? Well this was her go to dressing. I learned about this sweet little concoction from my mom, years ago and almost by mistake when we were in the kitchen throwing together a salad. It’s one of those simple unwritten recipes that so easily could have been overlooked and lost. Fortunately it has found its way into one more kitchen. I come back to it every spring with the arrival of tender lettuce. And I always think of Myrtle bustling about in her farmhouse kitchen.

Farmhouse Cream Dressing

2-3 tablespoons cream
1-2 tablespoons vinegar (I use rice)
1-2 teaspoons sugar
fresh ground pepper

Mix together and adjust flavors to your liking. Serve over fresh greens.

4 Responses to “key players”

  1. 1 Anne-Marie June 10, 2013 at 2:46 pm

    The dressing sounds/looks delish. I love a simple dressing that doesn’t overpower the tender lettuces. You’ve got me hankering for some fresh greens. I’m adding this to my Garlic Pig recipe file. Between Myrtle and Mabel, I’m accumulating some great vintage recipes and ideas. Thanks!!

    P.S. Did you win that grilled cheese photo contest?

  2. 2 Ella Bella June 10, 2013 at 3:06 pm

    Can’t beat the old reliable recipes of days gone by! My all time favorite salad is romaine and sliced apple with curry viniagrette.

  3. 3 Marlys Juhnke June 10, 2013 at 3:40 pm

    Cream/vinegar/sugar was a favorite with Mabel also! My German in-laws did the same thing so I guess it’s not just us Scandinavians who like it.

  4. 4 GarlicPig June 11, 2013 at 10:41 pm

    AM: No! And Julie (who also entered) and I agree the winners were LAME.
    EB: Curry vinaigrette sounds amazing – adding to my must try list.
    MJ: Oh good! Now I can picture Mabel bustling around too :-)

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