It’s certain that fine women eat
A crazy salad with their meat.
~ William Butler Yeats “A Prayer for my Daughter”
A crazy salad at my home is a kind of kitchen sink dish, you make it with whatever you have on hand, within reason of course! When I make this salad, I go for color, trying to find something from every band of the rainbow. It’s happy looking, good cheer-up food, much needed right now.
What have you got in the fridge?
It’s a bit of a challenge right now since we are making one commando trek a week to hunter gather what we need or can find. We’re relying a lot on our stash of roots from the winter CSA – carrots, beets, radishes, potatoes, rutabagas, celeriac, turnips, onions, and parsnips. Many of these things are quite colorful, so my crazy salad gets a good start there, with a base of local spinach greens.
Fuss a little, you’ve got time
I have the time right now, so I played around with cutting out funny little flowers and hearts out of my radishes and carrots. It amused me, and made the salad look rather silly, but that was the point.
The crazy salad always has some kind of greens for the base, lots of colorful vegetables, and beans of some sort. This weekend, I used black beans. A bit of fruit such as apples or pears adds a sweet pop. Dried fruit is good here too.
What do you have for leftovers?
I also add any refrigerator ingredients that need to be used up. We’re trying extra hard right now not to waste food. I know we should always be trying really hard not to waste, but sometimes we are guilty of not eating up all those leftovers. For this most recent crazy salad, I added some left-over grilled red peppers and mushrooms, and some lima beans.
The dressing is the star –– coffee
But the star of the salad is the dressing! The coffee vinaigrette does not scream coffee, it just adds a little something extra to the flavor. The capers also add some flavor and texture.
I make this dressing in the food processor, adding all the ingredients except the oil first, blending them really well, then adding the oil through the feed tube with the little liner still inside.
The magic kitchen helper
It took me years to realize there is a little hole in the insert for the food processor feed tube which perfectly allows a liquid to be added while the processor is running so you can emulsify a dressing (or mayonnaise) without having to stand there adding it drop by drop. If you are making mayonnaise, you will still have to add the first of the oil drop by drop, but once it is starting to emulsify, you can use the feed tube.
There are no set measurements for this salad, that’s the fun of it. Use what you have, in whatever proportions you like best. Add or subtract vegetables. Do you love cucumbers? Beets? Do you have leftover pasta? This is simply how I made it one day, a day when I needed color as well as flavor.
Spinach Crazy Salad with Crazy Coffee Vinaigrette
- Baby spinach leaves
- Black beans
- Purple Daikon or pink watermelon radishes, diced
- Broccoli florets
- Yellow corn
- Orange carrots, cut into strips
- Red cherry tomatoes, quartered
- celery, chopped, leaves too
- Scallions, sliced
- Green and wax beans, raw, chopped
- Apple, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, finely minced
- 2 tsp. honey
- 2 tsp. instant espresso
- 1/4 cup. balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tbsp. capers with their brine
- Salt and pepper to taste
Line your salad bowl with greens of choice.
Prep your vegetables. Chop and dice and slice everything and mix them all up. If you have time, make a few fussy cuts to save for garnish.
Throw them all into the bowl.
Double check your refrigerator for anything else that might work in the salad.
Make the vinaigrette: In a food processor fitted with the steel blade, add the garlic, honey, espresso, and vinegar.
Pour the olive oil into the feed tube with the insert still fitted in. Once the oil has emulsified the dressing, pour it into a small bowl. If you do not have a food processor, whisk everything but the oil in a small bowl, then drizzle in the olive oil slowly.
Add the capers and salt and pepper. If you want this a little thinner, add a bit more caper juice.
Drizzle what you like over the salad.
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