The best salad I’ve ever had was at the River Cottage Canteen in Axminster in southern England. It was so ridiculously simple, but gorgeous and well composed at the same time. It was a green salad with a variety of different leaves and petals with very thin slices of lamb on the plate around the edge of the salad. If I remember correctly (this was several years ago now!) it had homemade croutons, sunflower seeds, and a creamy mustardy vinaigrette.
What made this salad so incredible and memorable?
1 – it had leaves, flowers, and greens that I had never eaten before in a salad: pea shoots, nasturtium flowers, pansies, baby beet leaves, and a variety of other greens and lettuces; they were all picked from the garden that morning probably so they were incredibly fresh
2 – the homemade croutons were unbelievably good; they added awesome savory flavor, wonderfully crunchy texture, and totally elevated the salad to another level
3 – the vinaigrette was simple yet delicious, and it didn’t upstage any of the delicate flavors of the greens, flowers, or sunflower seeds
4 – the lamb was probably leftover from dinner the night before where I’m sure they served roast lamb… and yet it was perfectly suited for the salad, sliced so thin almost like a leaf itself
The final thing that made this salad outlandishly good was that it was so stinkin’ simple! No chef skills are required to compose such a salad at home. I sat there thinking to myself while eating the salad that if all salads were that delicious I would have no problem eating them for a meal multiple times a week.
I haven’t stopped thinking about that salad. So now, years later, I am setting out to make that salad this spring. I’m going to grow the things that I want to go in the salad, make the dressing and croutons, cook lamb one night and use the leftovers the next day. I think I will call it the Great Salad Project. I invite you to join me in planting, picking, plucking, and dressing this elusive salad.
Has anyone else ever eaten a salad that you will never forget?