A light dinner
Sometimes all I really want for dinner is a green salad. Boring? Nah. Not if you grow your own lettuce.
The lovely green leaves in the pictures came from my back porch. My house has a tiny yard, but I've covered the deck with pots of all shapes and sizes, the majority filled with edible plants.
The delicate flavor and fresh crunch of newly harvested lettuces can't be beat. The key is to dress them with a light vinaigrette, something that allows the greens to shine through, show off. I toss in a few radishes for color and a nice peppery bite, consider a perfectly hard-boiled egg if I need more substance, then add just enough vinaigrette to lightly coat the leaves. Spring perfection.
For a gorgeous hard-boiled egg, place the eggs of your choice (I usually stick with large, and yes, the eggs from your local farmer's market are significantly better) in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring the water to a boil, then shut off the heat and — this is the important part — allow the eggs to sit in the cooling water for 10-11 minutes. Please adjust the time according to the size of your eggs. Then crack the shells and place them in ice water to cool completely. When peeled, you should have beautiful yolks, buttery and golden, without the nasty green rings and chalky centers of overcooked eggs.
Do what you will with the eggs. I like to sprinkle them with sweet herbs and kosher salt before they hit the salad bowl.
For a vinaigrette, rely on your taste buds. I prefer a ratio of 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar, but hey, it's your salad. Many people like a 4:1 ratio. Adjust accordingly.
My favorite dressings include a minced clove of garlic (or two) and finely chopped shallot. I add Dijon mustard if I'm in the mood for a little more spice, but it's not required. Fresh herbs are always included — just be sure to choose sweet, tender herbs like chervil, tarragon, chives and thyme, rather than the more assertive options, like rosemary and sage. With delicate lettuces I'm a big fan of lemon or lime juice instead of vinegar, but champagne vinegar is lovely, and I reach for the sherry vinegar bottle frequently. If you don't want to deal with a whisk and are willing to simply combine ingredients rather than create an emulsion, put all of the ingredients into a covered glass or jar (covered with a lid, not your hand or plastic wrap) and shake. Hard.