Thursday, July 15, 2010

Red Oak Leaf, Cucumber, Blueberry Salad

July 15
When Craig served this salad, I had not been paying attention to the kitchen at all. I was juggling the girls, feeding them little snacks after a long day of school and play, hanging the laundry out to dry instantly in the summer heat, and sipping at a rose wine with "Jewel" black raspberries, floating like deep purple clouds, in the glass.

The Oak Leaf from Red Tail Farm was heaped in the salad bowl. Craig tossed the salad and served it, filling the plates to their outermost edge. I noticed the cucumber, the first we'd had, bought from a table outside a house along the lake, with an honor box, seventy five cents. And then, tucked into the dark green and red edges of the lettuce, blueberries.

The combination of the texture and flavor: crunchy, slightly bitter lettuce; crisp, watery, mild cucumber; bright, sweet blueberry; balanced oil and vinegar dressing with a not too acidic vinegar. The sizes of things mattered too: the slender, elegant lettuce was not chopped, it was torn in half, or thirds so it filled your mouth, the slices of peeled cucumber gave a broad, fresh splash of water, and the whole blueberries a small, delightful pop of sweet in the bite.

It is very fun to be surprised. It does not take much to bring your senses fully in to the moment. A sweet berry hidden in the folds of crisp earthy lettuce brought such a feeling of fun, of playful levity to the table. This combination is not one of the recipes that was an evolution of another recipe. This was all Craig. That is one of the things that saves us, his ability to be present, to look with an open mind at what is before him, which in this case was a the seasonal excitement of the first beautiful cucumber, a handful of berries, our friends' lettuce.

Part of the fun deliciousness of this salad was the surprise of the blueberry. But then we had it the next night, I knew full well what to expect, and it was just as good as the night before.

Red Oak Leaf, Cucumber, Blueberry Salad

from the freshest available...
Oak Leaf lettuce
some blueberries
2 or 3 slender scallions sliced
Japanese cucumber peeled and sliced
juice of 1/2 meyer lemon
splash of champagne or chardonnay vinegar
fine olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients except lettuce in the bottom of a large salad bowl. After a bit of marinating add the lettuce, but do not mix. Just prior to eating, mix well and serve.

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