JEFF TIEDEMAN: Salads — shoot for the topNew book from author Patricia Wells may provide inspiration.
There is hardly a dinner served in our house in which the main course is not accompanied a salad. And most of the time, I have very little to do with it other than maybe growing some of the vegetables or having picked up a few of the other ingredients at the store.
That’s because I can’t come close to matching Therese’s salads, which are almost legendary in our family.
Therese’s salads are a nice mix of greens and other veggies that are rich in color and flavor, but it’s just the right mix of oil, salt, pepper, vinegar and sugar that puts hers over the top.
I was reminded of this on a recent trip to the Twin Cities, while we were feasting on the salad and soup special at the Olive Garden in Golden Valley. My brother-in-law, Joel Lutz, is a huge fan of the chain restaurant’s salad, which I have to admit, is mighty tasty. But it hardly holds a candle to what I eat at home.
While my contribution to our delicious salads is pretty limited, I’m hoping to bring my skill level up a notch or two. And if I do, it might be because of a suggestion from a friend and former co-worker, Carla Baranauckas, who worked at Herald in the 1980s.
Carla, an editor at politicsdaily.com (as well as an adjunct professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism) and a former editor at The New York Times , also is a friend on Facebook. It’s there where she passed along information about a new book — “Salad as a Meal” (HarperCollins, $22.85) — from Patricia Wells, described by some as the grande dame of modern French cooking.
Wells, herself a former Times reporter and global restaurant critic for the International Herald Tribune for 25 years, runs a popular cooking school — At Home with Patricia Wells — in Paris and Provence. She won the James Beard Award for “The Provence Cookbook,” “Patricia Wells at Home in Provence” and “Simply French,” as well as being honored by the French government as a Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, recognizing her contribution to French culture.
“Salad As A Meal” is Wells’ 12th book, and it features more than 150 recipes including:
— Spring Salad: Asparagus, Peas, Beans and Fennel.
— Summer Salad: Green Beans, Toasted Nuts and Cured Olives.
— Provence on a Plate: Eggplant, Tomatoes, Goat Cheese and Tapenade.
— Quinoa Salad with Spinach, Parsley and Spring Onions.
— Lobster Salad with Green Beans, Apple and Avocado.
Wells also offers recipes for soup sides, from Cilantro-Flecked Heirloom Tomato Soup to Watercress Soup with Warm Oysters, as well as breads of all kinds, including Crispy Flatbread and Multigrain Sourdough Bread.
Look out, Therese!
Tiedeman is food editor at the Herald. Reach him at (701) 780-1136 or toll-free at (800) 477-6572, or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.