One of the great things I’ve learned by eating as an adult is that salad is a vague term, and it can be a great one. Growing up, salad meant one thing: Mixed greens and a bottle of Newman’s Own Caesar Dressing. I know, compared to the evil salads that exist out there, it is not so bad. But for every dinner of my childhood, this sat out on the table and I came to hate it. I went through phases. Sometimes I thought I hated dressing (perhaps I only hated ones that came in bottles). Other times I thought I hated lettuce (though I think it was more the bitter radicchio). It only got worse when the most dreaded answer to “what’s for dinner” came: “A big salad.”
I’d panic: “and then?”
“No and then!” Wait, I seem to have gotten my childhood mixed up with “Dude, Where’s My Car.” But the point is: Adding tomatoes and croutons to the salad did not make it a meal (sorry, Mom), and it just furthered my hatred of salads as I knew them. B’s family has an entire other meaning for the word salad (one that I’m not all that big a fan of either): thick, mayonnaise based dishes, sometimes with jello, canned fruit or pasta. That’s the thing about salad, it’s a flexible term.
Since I’ve had the garden this summer, I’ve learned that making a salad can change things up. We ate our way through literally hundreds of radishes, plain as snacks, or on fresh from the oven baguettes, with sea salt and butter, roasted and served with proscuitto, yet still, radishes were coming. So I broke down and did it. I made them into a salad. That word that I so dreaded.
This salad was nothing like the ones of mine or B’s childhoods, though. I once read somewhere that children liked any vegetable they grew themselves, so you should plant a garden if you can’t get your kid to eat veggies. Maybe that’s why I like my own salad. Or maybe its because I got to put it all together myself and there was no radicchio, no bottled dressing and no mayonnaise. Whatever it was, this salad shined up from its plate, called to me, to let me know how delicious it would be.
Slice a few bunches of radishes on a mandoline, top with any fresh cheese, top with chopped chives and mint. Dress with olive oil, sherry vinegar, salt and pepper.