I’m not much of a TV watcher (except “So You Think You Can Dance”) and a while back, I was passing by the den one visit to my Mom’s when the “Gilmore Girls” was on. The scene was a woman in a dimly lit kitchen. She was standing by the sink, tore open a bag of salad mix, dumped some bottled dressing in it and forked up an unenthusiastic mouthful. Sad.
Nourishing yourself should include feeding your soul. This menu (thanks to the recipe plugin I use) can be an elegant meal for one or the basis for a mid-week party without any fuss. All the components can be made ahead and assembled while your guests are arriving. And as for bagged salad at the sink? No way! You need a wonderful meal to look forward to after a long, busy day.
Skip the drive through window. Set out some pretty dishes. Fire up the Spotify playlist and enjoy! I’ve chosen tunes for summer lushness – a little humid with the occasional light breeze.
The salad recipe is based on one from Cooks Illustrated. The original featured chicken breast and an orange-marmalade dressing. When I saw fresh organic cherries at the market, I remembered the recipe, but chicken didn’t seem to do the cherries justice. At the time, I was the personal chef for several clients, and I had to cook all the dishes in advance. I loved steak right off the grill and served with crisp salad vegetables, but this wouldn’t be possible with a pre-prepared dish. And rib eyes or sirloin served another day are just leftovers. I thought about filet mignon, and when I tried it out, it was perfect. Why? Because the lack of marbling means that you won’t run into streaks of cold, hard fat. The tender texture of cooked tenderloin doesn’t suffer as much from refrigeration. A little of the luxurious meat goes a long way, plus filet mignon demands bold flavors to offset its inherent blandness, which is why Béarnaise or another assertive sauce almost always accompanies this cut of beef.
Harris isn’t a main-course salad kind of guy generally. But he loves this meal. There are so many interesting textures and tastes, and the dressing is perfection. For a paleo version, you can omit the goat cheese, but do try to use Sherry vinegar and orange peel and juice in the dressing. They pull the dish together the way that the perfect shoes and jewelry make an outfit. I opted to use a fresh orange instead of commercial marmalade to keep the dressing real.
I love dishes like this for entertaining because guests can easily bypass ingredients they don’t appreciate. And dressing a salad is a matter of personal taste. Some like a little, others like a lot.
The sweet potato soup is a great way to open the menu. People love soup, but we don’t often think to serve it as an appetizer. It’s fresh and light and delicious. A novel way to present the dish is in a mug with or without a spoon. I like the clear taste of the sweet potatoes with its water base, but feel free to use homemade bone broth instead if you like. The squeeze of lemon in the end adds zing and perks up a flagging mid-summer appetite.