by Kate Heyhoe
Like enchanting alchemists, salads deliver what chefs call "a high note" of tartness and tangy balance. They enliven a meal with contrast—in texture, color, and taste. They can be elegant or homespun, easy or exotic, and salads appear on tables all over the world, all year long. But the salad days of summer revel in the season's youthful, fresh produce, from lettuces to peppers, tomatoes, and herbs.
It can even be said that the perfection of a meal lies in a well-chosen salad. A side-dish salad both balances and enhances the richness on the plate. A dessert salad, bright with fruit and sweet with honey, signals to the taste buds that the meal is complete. Main course salads can be hearty with chicken or sedate with sashimi. Appetizer salads are like greeting cards, welcoming diners with delicate baby greens or apple slivers, toasted nuts, and shavings of cheese, before the unwrapping of the main course begins.
For cooks preoccupied with the more demanding parts of the meal, a salad prepared wholly or partially in advance is like a sea of calm in an otherwise turbulent kitchen. Plus, fancy salad artistry is by no means the exclusive domain of restaurant chefs. Anyone can turn the salad bowl upside down and spread it out among roasting pans and pasta pots, orchard fruits and barbecue grills, or earthy roots and microgreen shoots.
Break out of boring. Now's the time to revisit the salad bowl and get wildly creative, or explore exotic salads from around the globe. Mache and mesclun are in the bag; fingerlings come from Frieda's; oils are pressed from macadamia nuts, green tea, avocados, and of course olives; and vinegars ferment from rice, berries, varietal grapes, and yuzu—so many options! Here's a few inspiring summer salads, and a Guide to Salad Ingredients, to get you started:
Ricky's Lucky Nuts are one of the best new food products I've found. For busy people, they're a great rescue when skipping meals. And for anyone wanting a super-satisfying tasty snack, these gems pack a powerful punch of flavor and crunch—so good I'm planning on giving them as holiday gifts (shhh!...don't tell anyone).
What makes them so special? Each flavor variety wraps dry-roasted peanuts in the perfect balance of sweetness, saltiness, and enticing spice blends (without preservatives or artificial ingredients). The coatings are like glazes, rather than messy dustings that stick to fingers.
Cocoa and Vanilla Bean is their newest flavor and all I can say is: wow! Texas peanuts are coated with organic Peruvian cocoa and Madagascar vanilla bean, in a salty-sweet base, and the result is unique and outstanding. These peanuts are good anytime, but were inspired to be "breakfast nuts," for morning snackers or nibbled on with coffee.
Ricky's Original Style is where it all began, and hits the sweet-salty-savory note with perfect pitch. Other good flavors: Black Pepper & Salt, Spicy Chile Chipotle, and Bombay Curry Coconut. They're all addictive, and just a few nuts deliver a big flavor profile, so they go a long way. Toss the 2-ounce bags in your purse, car or backpack as I do (typically my lunch on the go), and keep the 6-ounce bags at home for cocktails, snacking or tossing into salads.
Inspired by a recipe from a friend and chef (Ricky), Paul Gelose and Carolyn Lamb founded their company in Durango, Colorado. The company has a give-back policy, sponsoring local and national outdoor events and philanthropic causes, another good reason to enjoy Ricky's Lucky Nuts.
Buy a case of Cocoa & Vanilla Bean Ricky's Lucky Nuts (12 2oz pouches).
Visit Ricky's Lucky Nuts
Copyright © 2010, Kate Heyhoe. All rights reserved.
This page modified June 2010
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