Easy as S-a-l-a-d

springdemoWhen I do "Tasty Tuesday" demos in the Ferry Building shop and make a big salad full of seasonal ranch produce, customers often request the recipe. I'm not tooting my own horn when I say that they're good, but if I season it well, liberally douse it with our extra virgin olive oil and put the slightest bit of thought into the colors and textures in my salads, things generally work out. Rather than having a special recipe that I follow to a tee, however, the only constant is our oil. In my mind, the beauty of salads lies in their versatility. There seem to be a zillion variables from obvious ones like freshness, quality and availability of ingredients to the more personal considerations that always factor into my salad bowls such as moods, cravings, the likes/dislikes and diets of the people I'm feeding and the weather. (I am in San Francisco, after all, where summer doesn't always call for cucumbers.) Salad recipes (especially mine) should never be taken too literally, which is why I think everyone of you should take a peak at Mark Bittman's ideas below. Completely void of tedious lists, exact quantities and specific instruction, his recipes are more like simple ingredient combinations that could make a salad eater (and tosser) out of just about anyone. Here are a few quick ideas from Bittman's "Recipes for 101 Summer Salads" in the New York Times , all begging for your own interpretation (and a drizzle of McEvoy oil):
8. Chop or slice radishes (or jicama, or the ever-surprising kohlrabi) and combine with chopped or sliced unripe (i.e., still crunchy) mango, lime juice and mint or cilantro. 29. Pit and halve cherries (or halve and pit cherries), then cook gently with olive oil and a little balsamic vinegar until they break down. Toss with chopped radicchio, endive, escarole or a combination, some toasted hazelnuts and more oil and vinegar, if necessary. 40. Slice cucumber and top with capers, olive oil, lots of pepper and little dollops of fresh ricotta. Note: cucumbers, ricotta and oil must all be really good. 49. Toss greens with walnuts, blue cheese and raspberries; drizzle with a simple vinaigrette. Sell for $14 a serving. 94. Cook and cool quinoa. Toss with olive oil, loads of lemon juice, tons of parsley, some chopped tomatoes and, if you like, toasted pine nuts. Call it quinoa tabbouleh