Now that mesclun (for more on this “mix,” see) is everywhere, and often has kale and little cabbage leaves or raw chard in it—I don’t want to stand there for hours in the supermarket picking out the cattle food even if they would let me—I go more for mixed greens that I choose and mix myself.
I have developed many variants of the garden salad over the years. This version is the basic one, using whatever greens, flowers, and herbs you have in your garden or find in a market.
Pick over the greens, removing any stems and blackened leaves. Use only the inside tender leaves of the endive. Wash and spin-dry the leaves. Put in a plastic bag and keep cold in the refrigerator.
Mix the lemon juice with salt and pepper in a bowl large enough to hold all the greens. Whisk in the oils.
Put the greens and herbs in the bowl. Toss together thoroughly but gently, and serve the salad on cold plates, scattering the flower petals over the salads.
Use limestone lettuces whole with a dressing of one part fresh lemon juice to three parts hazelnut oil, with lemon zest sprinkled on top; or cut butter lettuce in quarters (stem removed) and dress gently in a bowl with blue cheese thinned with milk, lots of black pepper, orange zest, and chopped fresh tarragon leaves. Serve with toasts spread with finely chopped toasted walnuts mixed into one-third their volume of butter. Or take leftover cooked vegetables, chop and mix with one-third their volume of butter, and spread the vegetable butter on toasts. Bake, and serve hot with the cold salad.
© 2002 Jeremiah Tower. All rights reserved.