Louisville Magazine

AUG 2019

Louisville Magazine is Louisville's city magazine, covering Louisville people, lifestyles, politics, sports, restaurants, entertainment and homes. Includes a monthly calendar of events.

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LOUISVILLE MAGAZINE 8.19 79 Ten years ago, I went on a Salad Quest. I like quests, though I'm not fastidious about completion. Mostly, I like the idea, and I like to launch them with great fanfare. My inspiration was the article "101 Simple Salads" in the New York Times, by food writer Mark Bittman. These weren't the usual toss of lettuce in its many variations. These read like health candy: tomatoes with peaches, carrots with blueberries, mango and jicama dusted with cilantro, mint, coconut milk, curry and — that life- changing ingredient — cumin. I was in. Before the day was over, I declared: I will make them all! (Declarations are Step 1 of any quest.) To date, this was my best quest ever, better than the time I tested chocolate chip cookie recipes for about a month. Better even than my waffle quest. Here's what I learned: When you post recipes with photos on social media, which I started doing a week or two into the quest, people rush to tell you which ingredients they don't like, because individual dislikes provoke a fascinating exchange of ideas, right? The legions who don't like cilantro couldn't wait to say so, as proud as kindergarteners bringing home their first gold stars. Cilantro dislike, I'm certain, is caused by an unfortunate genetic mutation. It's not something to brag about. Wait, I'm way off topic. Let's try again. Here are a few of my favorite Salad Quest recipes, starting with one that took me a few tries to get right: Lightly brown grape tomatoes in oil. Sprinkle them with curry and let them cool. Toss with arugula, chopped mint and lime juice. My first effort was a tad too curry-ful. I also switched to baby arugula. The result: a wonderful, complex salad. Great textures with lots of flavor. How about a chickpea salad with toasted coconut? (Yes, please find me on Facebook and tell me you don't like coconut, because that's so interesting!) Spread the coconut on a cookie sheet and put it in a preheated 325-degree oven. Keep an eye on it. Before Vatican II, people went to hell for burning good coconut. Combine the lightly browned coconut with chickpeas, shredded carrots, chopped celery, olive oil, lime juice, curry powder and cilantro. If you use canned chickpeas — and I always Quest for the Best do — try Goya brand. They're not the hard, flavorless pebbles you'll find under several other labels. You can leave off the cilantro. No need to tell me it tastes like soap to you, bless your heart. I thought a mixture of chopped bitter endive, radicchio and escarole would be forbidding. But when you mix those with halved fresh cherries, lightly sautéed in a little balsamic vinegar, divine taste symmetry is inevitable. Sauté the cherries until they just begin to break down. The recipe calls for toasted hazelnuts, but I prefer toasted pine nuts. Add a bit of oil and vinegar. Did I finish all 101? No. I keep going back to repeat my successes. But I still might. You can't set deadlines on a worthy quest. — JL

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