“Salad days”. The expression intends to evoke early times when we were young, inexperienced, and perhaps just a little bit innocent. We were those things once, right? These days I can’t hear the expression without remembering Mr. Howard, my English Lit professor, waxing poetic for a full 20 minutes on the expression –first coined by Shakespeare’s Cleopatra — in character as Miss Cleo herself. The Queen of the Egyptians refers to her early affair with Caesar as “My salad days, when I was green in judgment, cold in blood…” Green being the The Bard’s operative word here– not to signifying jealousy (as is his usual) but here meaning youth and freshness. That time in our lives when we are un-ripe yet still full of potential!
I first learned this particular salad during those salad days in my own life. Back when I was just starting to pay attention to what my mother was doing in the kitchen. I noticed that my mother never made this salad the same way twice. Perhaps that is why nobody ever got tired of it? I present my most standard recipe here but do make it with whatever you happen to have on hand. You’ll get the idea pretty quick. Mix the sweet and chewy with the salty and crunchy and you will be just fine.
A chopped banana or citrus would not be out of place here. Or, instead of dried fruit and peanuts try using chopped apple and walnuts for a Waldorf Salad effect. Or add a tablespoon of chutney for a surprise kick. You get the idea.
Once summer kicks in my meal planning energy focuses on salads at the expense of the main course. Perhaps you’ve noticed the dearth of salads on this blog as of late? Who has time to get aggressive with the main course when the sun is shining? A good salad you can turn a simple burger or grilled chicken breast into a celebratory feast. Any of the salads on this blog of late will do that but mastering this one will serve you for a lifetime as nobody ever seems to get tired of it as its never made the same way twice.
This is what you will need:
- 1/2 head cabbage
- 1 shallot
- 2 teaspoons curry powder, to taste
- 1/4 cup parsley, chopped
- 1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed
- 1 cup peanuts Spanish peanuts
- 1/4 dried fruit, chopped if not already in small pieces.
This is how you make it:
- Slice the cabbage to your taste and put into a bowl.
- I use a mandolin on a medium slice.
- Too think looks too commercial for my taste.
- Add peas, chopped parsley, and shallot and dried fruit. I used “Zaresh” (a dried Persian fruit) this time around as I was trying to be clever my mixing ethnicities, but usually I will use golden raisins or currants.
- This is also good with chopped apricots or dried cranberries. You get the idea…
- To bind the salad mix the curry powder into 1/3 cup mayo and then toss onto the salad and mix.
- Stir in the peanuts.
- Serve. Reinvent. Repeat.