When my friend Sara recommends a recipe I pay attention. She has a whole wall of cookbooks and knows all the ingredients and what to do with them and what a gram really is and she’s Canadian so if she hasn’t yet eaten a murre, she probably knows someone who has. It’s not all donuts and poutine up there. All her cooking utensils start out the day in a state of heightened anticipation. They have little cartoon legs and dance around on the counter. The girl knows her way around a kitchen, is what I’m saying.
So she was recently rhapsodizing about Nancy Silverton’s Italian Chopped Salad. I like the idea of chopped salads myself. I like having everything bite-sized so it all fits on a fork and you don’t have to pretend you can manage frilly lettuce in front of the Queen without looking like a tortoise. There’s been that whole expectation that we are never to cut salad greens lest we upset the symmetry of their little cells, but the suckers are going to be down the hatch before they get a chance to pout and turn brown, if it’s any good.
So. Nancy’s Chopped Salad. “It’s like eating an Italian sub sandwich in salad form,” they say.
The first thing you do is construct a vinaigrette. It calls for a cup and a half of oil. This is a lot of oil. Somewhere I still have the metal spout we used to jam into the motor oil cans before they all went to plastic. Further down in the recipe it says you only use a half cup of dressing so I guess the extra is what you keep in the fridge in case a stray salad happens by.
But it does look like a big salad. I set my vat of vinaigrette aside and gave it a whirl. A whole iceberg lettuce, a whole radicchio, a whole lot of salami, cheese, and peperoncinis, all chopped to beat hell. They direct you to cut your onion into 1/16th inch slices, or about the diameter of a post-menopausal facial hair. I am unclear on the proper tool for accomplishing that outside of an eye surgery clinic. Right off the bat it was obvious my biggest bowl was not going to cover the situation. I could pile things up in it but when it came to “tossing” I would be at a loss. I might be able to haul up salami strands from the bottom on an individual basis using fishing line. Then I remembered the really big bowl.
My sister-in-law gave that to me one Christmas. She thought I could use a bigger bread bowl. It wasn’t a standard item; It was handmade. And sure it’s a little thick and sure it’s a little heavy but it’s not bad at all for the Incredible Hulk’s first attempt at throwing a pot. It’s a very nice bowl. There’s only one way it can fit, in only one cabinet, and you have to move everything else out of the way first and tip it at an angle, so mostly it just stays there. We’re sort of counting on it helping to anchor our house to the foundation during the big earthquake.
I craned out the bowl, and dumped in all my ingredients. They were snug. This looked like the special meal our local zoo gives to its elephant on his birthday. I dumped in the vinaigrette and started tossing. Tossing is not the precise verb I’d use for an activity that involves diving into an oily salad up to your elbows, but whatever. Recipe says it serves 4-8, but they might mean elephants. We had company for dinner. I lowered the bowl in a wagon and wheeled it into the dining room. A lot of it did disappear.
Not into me, though. I didn’t care for it that much. That’s when I remembered: I don’t really like Italian sub sandwiches. But my elbows haven’t looked this smooth in years.
Being from the madder side of the Atlantic Ocean (not a phrase I ever envisaged writing until lately), I was nervous about opening up a Murrmurr post whose headline contained the words ‘salad’ (with its hint of a sharp knife) and ‘tackle’ (UK slang). I should’ve had more faith. That does sound like a lot of oil, I would’ve been tempted to not dust the big bowl, so’s to soak up some of that vinaigrette.
Uh oh. Do I need to look up “tackle?”
Tackle – UK slang humorous. (also wedding tackle) the male sexual organs. You’re welcome.
The salad, by the way, was delicious!
Oh, please! As if anyone waits for their wedding night! Or is it different in Britain? I wouldn’t buy a car without test driving it (Tesla, I’m talkin’ to you), so why would I promise to spend the rest of my life with someone without test driving him? It took 15 years of living together before I said yes to Paul’s requests to marry me. When he asked me what I wanted to do on our 15th anniversary, I said, “Well… we could get married.” I take a LONG time to ruminate on something!
Sculptor! I couldn’t remember who I foisted that onto.
I think that we’re about even right now. Liz Truss has quit exactly one day after saying she’s not a quitter. And Boris Johnson is actually being mentioned as the next Prime Minister. I’ll bet Lillibet is rolling over in her grave! Meanwhile… here in America, Trump is actually very popular for some reason, and some are considering him for president (dictator!) next time around. I can only hope that he gets prosecuted and cannot serve, let alone run. England… can you take us back? It wasn’t you… it was us. We’ll pay extra taxes for the freakin’ tea, okay?
*donuts are also known as doughnuts
*so that’s what all the noise is in the kitchen every morning! I thought it was Steve
*there’s no more Queen 🙁
There was a queen when I wrote this though. Truth? One of the first things I thought of when the Queen died was how often I refer to “the Queen coming over” as in “I would’ve cleaned it better but the Queen wasn’t coming over,” and I don’t know that I can swap it out for King. My content quality is going to suffer.
There are monarchies and queens in places that aren’t the UK.
Some may say that Queen isn’t the same without Freddie Mercury.
NO! It’s not Queen without Freddie Mercury! Murr! Maybe your new tag phrase should be, “Well… it’s clean enough. It’s not as though Freddie Mercury is coming over.”
So I can still say “the Queen’s not coming over?”
I don’t like restaurant salads, as they tear them into large pieces — and, yes — it makes one feel like a tortoise to eat it! At home, I tear them into bite-sized pieces, because we generally have small side salads, so it’s not onerous. However, when I make a Caesar salad, which is big enough for a real meal, I chop it. TEARING it?! Ain’t nobody got time for that! It doesn’t affect the salad’s taste or durability (it’s going to be eaten right away anyway.) I remember when I was waiting tables, some “ladies who lunch” would request the salad to be chopped. I’d roll my eyes behind their backs and think how high maintenance they were. But now I KNOW. It’s not high maintenance to not want to look like a tortoise in front of one’s friends.
You might recall I once wrote an entire post about tearing vs. chopping greens.
I remember! And it inspired me to chop big salads like Caesars instead of meticulously tearing them! No difference! But for a small side salad, I’d just as soon tear, as they are SMALL and I don’t want to wash a knife if I don’t have to.
I have in fact, consumed murre, which we call turr. Once is enough.
Is it dry and witty?
I mean, of course you have.
Here’s a tip for the next “big” thing, cut the recipe in half or even quarters, that way there’s a lot less to toss and a lot less to toss out if you don’t like it.
I like my salads chopped too, but sometimes I leave the pieces big enough that I have to pay attention when I eat. I NEVER use iceberg lettuce, always romaine, which we call Cos, or one of the fancy red and green mix which look like butter lettuce but aren’t.
It’s not cool to like iceberg lettuce, but I do, and all the other ones too except frisée.
We used to do romaine because it has more vitamins (or was it folic acid?) but we finally decided to instead eat the kind we like: iceberg.
Look here, everyone’s calling things something else. Murre’s a turr, doughnuts are donuts, and Romaine is cos even if that’s not even close. The Queen is a King, largely due to tackle. Down is up, bad is good, lies are truth. I blame it all on Rupert Murdoch, was not even from around here. And I’ll chop my salad with my teeth. So, there.
Well Nance, I believe you’ve about summed it up.
Nance for the win!
Did Pootie like it?
If Pootie got into it at all, it would have been to see if there were M&Ms at the bottom.