The Summer of Lettuce

Mussel Toast with Arugula Sauce, and hey look, salad.
As I look out onto my back yard this summer I'm filled with great joy but also, great disappointment. My garden, (raised beds) that I spent time, effort, and money (dirt is expensive ya'll) into making a glorious space for things to grow, is sad looking. Carrots are meandering along looking unimpressive. I've harvested just a few radishes and Japanese turnips. My Tuscan kale was promptly munched away by a very rude bunny rabbit. I did notice some melon plants, that I thought had been terminated, making a comeback but I'm not so optimistic that this summer will help them along enough to see something actually melon-sized. Boo, hiss. My garden bums me out whenever I look at it.

My potted plants however, are doing all they can to cheer me up. Tomatoes and snap peas in pots are full of promise. Herbs are bountiful in their containers. And my wooden wine crate turned lettuce planter is surging along. So needless to say, I've been enjoying my share of salad greens this summer, and I plan to keep it up, finding new ways (and old favorites) to enjoy the assortment of lettuces in my care. Because when life give you lettuce (and not much else) you must find a way to make it interesting.
Fixin's for Mussel Toast, just add arugula

Mussel Toast with Arugula Sauce and Garlic Mayo
Serves 2-4
*Extra Arugula sauce is amazing on pretty much everything from fish to chicken, even steak and potatoes!

Arugula Sauce:
2 garlic cloves
1 large bunch arugula, washed and dried well (about 3 cups)
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, more as needed

Quick Garlic Mayo:
6 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 large garlic cloves, grated on a microplane
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 tin (app 4 oz) mussels in oil (like Matiz)
Crusty bread (baguette, italian loaf etc), sliced about 1” thick and toasted
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

To make Arugula Sauce: In a food processor, combine the arugula, two garlic cloves, ½ teaspoon salt, and lemon juice. With the machine running, drizzle in the ½ cup olive oil to make a smooth, thick sauce.

To make Garlic Mayo: Whisk mayonnaise, garlic, lemon juice and oil in small bowl to blend. Season with salt and pepper.

To arrange toasts: Place toasts on plate, spread desired amount of garlic mayo on each slice, place mussels on top (2-3 mussels per slice), drizzle with arugula sauce and finish with a sprinkling of sea salt and fresh cracked pepper.

Calabrian Chile Caesar Salad with Steak

Serves 4

3 oil-packed anchovy fillets
1 large garlic clove
2 oil-packed Calabrian chiles, drained
1 large egg yolk
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
¾ teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 tablespoons Parmesan, finely grate

Steak and Romaine:
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for oiling the grill grates
Two 1-inch-thick strip steaks (about 1 1/2 pounds total), trimmed of excess fat
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 romaine hearts, split lengthwise and core trimmed

For dressing: Pulse anchovy, garlic, and chiles in food processor until chopped finely. Add egg yolk, lemon, mustard, Worcestershire and salt and pepper, pulse until incorporated. While food processor is running, slowly drizzle in oil until a smooth, thick dressing forms. Add the Parmesan, pulse until incorporated.

For the steak and romaine: Prepare a grill for medium heat. Lightly oil the grill grates.

Sprinkle the steaks with salt and pepper and grill about 5 minutes per side for medium rare. Remove to a cutting board to rest for 8 minutes.

Brush the cut sides of the romaine with the olive oil and season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Grill, without turning, until lightly charred and wilted, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a serving platter. Slice the steaks and place on top of the romaine. Drizzle the dressing over top and serve.

Summer Salad with Strawberries and Chevre

Serves 4
*Try one of the amazing goat cheeses from Sage Farm Goat Dairy, my newest cheese obsession.

1 cup slivered almonds
12 ounces mixed spring greens
16 ounces strawberries, washed, hulled, & sliced
4 ounces fresh goat cheese, crumbled

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
5 tablespoons freshly-squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 teaspoon sea salt, plus additional to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon poppy seeds (optional)

Adjust the rack to the center position and preheat the oven to 350°. Spread the slivered almonds on a sheet pan and bake for 5 to 7 minutes, or until fragrant and light brown, watching carefully to prevent burning. Set aside and allow to cool.

To prepare the vinaigrette, measure all of the ingredients into a Mason jar. Tightly screw on the lid and shake vigorously until everything is thoroughly combined. Alternatively, you may whisk the ingredients together in a medium bowl or blend them in a mini food processor or blender.

To assemble the salad, layer the mixed greens, sliced strawberries, toasted slivered almonds, and crumbled goat cheese in a large bowl. Just before serving, dress with your desired amount of vinaigrette and toss until the salad ingredients are evenly coated.


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