Now that Hubby and I are making a valiant effort toward a healthier lifestyle, salads are a big part of the supper table. It’s not that we had unhealthy eating habits before, but things such as salad and big plates of vegetables took a back seat to bowls of pasta and mounds of mashed potatoes. Healthy eating simply means keeping things in perspective – more veggies, less carbs and keep the meats lean.
One of my favorite salads has to be a recipe I picked up from one of my favorite sites, The Everyday French Chef. Just as the name suggest, the food is definitely French foods designed for everyday life. Like most salads, it’s all a matter of preferences, textures and flavors. While I make the salad “my way” with a wonderful assortment of tender greens, Hubby usually does a little doctoring at the table by adding what he calls “real lettuce” – big chunks of iceberg. What defines “real” lettuce in our house is a source of great debate. It’s not that I don’t like iceberg, but to me it should be served in big wedges with dressing or shredded for tacos. Iceberg Lettuce has no place in a tossed salad. But that’s just my opinion. Hubby would argue otherwise.
Mesclun is the Provencal word for ‘mixture,’ and this salad is composed of a mixture of tender shoots. The traditional mix includes chervil, arugula, leafy lettuces and endive, while the term mesclun may also refer to a mix of many different fresh, available baby salad greens that might include: lettuces, baby spinach, arugula, Swiss chard, mustard greens, endives, dandelions or other leaf vegetables. A traditional mesclun salad has at least seven varieties of greens. For a salad of this nature to truly be Mesclun, there is but one absolutely essential raw herb and that is Chervil, a delicate herb frequently used in French cuisine. Chervil is a member of the parsley family, has a mild flavor with hints of licorice or anise.
Provence Mixed Greens Salad
8 oz Mesclun (4 large handfuls)
2 oz Chervil
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1/2 Red Onion, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon truffle oil
Sea Salt to taste
Freshly Ground Black Pepper
2 tablespoons chopped walnuts
Feta Cheese, if desired
Note: If you absolutely cannot find chervil, use a blend of parsley and tarragon – the parsley will give you the look and texture of Chervil, while the tarragon will impart that hint of licorice.
Wash the greens and spin dry. Press garlic over the greens and mix with your hands, gently “rubbing” the garlic onto the tender leaves. Sprinkle greens with chopped Chervil. Peel and slice half a red onion into thin rings. Break rings apart and add to greens. Toss gently to mix everything together. Set greens aside.
In a glass measuring cup, whisk vinegar, olive oil and truffle oil together. Season to taste with a little seal salt and fresh ground pepper. Pour oil mixture into the bottom of a serving bow. A chilled metal bowl works well.
Set the greens on top of oil mixture and refrigerate.
Mix at the table when ready to serve. Pass the Feta cheese and walnuts table-side for those who want a little something extra. Serves 4 generously.
This salad is especially delicious with salmon such as Filetti di Salmone Pacchi