My mother-in-law, Laura prepared special dishes for the holidays. We treasured and looked forward to them each year as thanksgiving and Christmas drew close. My favorite was a composed salad that was served in old fashion champagne goblets. Festive, colorful and delicious it always drew gasps when it was served.
And I’ve been carrying on the tradition, sort of. Champagne goblets? Who has them lying around? I improvised. I served the salad in a large glass platter and people served themselves. Ooo and ahs all around every time. But this year, the siblings and their children are coming to our house. How are they going to react to the improper presentation? Laura, being an artist, insisted on the perfect display as well as the specific ingredients and taste.
This will be the first time the family was getting together for a holiday after Laura’s passing. Nerves and expectations were dialed on high. Multiple emails, texts, and calls crisscrossed the country; small details were debated, agreed upon and reconfigured repeatedly. It made managing a corporation seem easy in comparison.
Will there be enough food? For the vegans, vegetarians as well as the meat eaters? Meat in the house? Oh my. Who’s bringing the drinks? Desert? What about so and so who doesn’t want to commit until the last moment? Bring a date, yes or no? Finally, the big day came.
Welcome everyone. Drinks. People liked the appetizers. Then the moment of truth. I set up the dinner buffet and right in the center of the table was the special salad. In a big round glass platter. We held hands around the buffet as we gave thanks for the gathering, for the food, for the year and for life. I eyed each person around the room surreptitiously to check for reactions to the presentation. No telling looks. Then – wow, this is beautiful! It must have taken you all day to make this! Our traditional favorite. Laura would have loved it…….
All my anticipation and concern melted away. I gently touched the zit by my temple that erupted yesterday – yes, I know. Stress. Funny that I can run far flung global businesses calmly and I’m breaking out over a salad.
Lesson learned. Again. Do the best you can. Trust that your best is good enough. If it’s not, you’ll know better for next time. Meanwhile enjoy the moment. Don’t worry about the future. You can deal with that when it arrives. Happy eating.
Here’s the recipe for Laura’s Salad. Use whatever serving piece(s) you like, it’s your own creativity that will make it special. Ad lib. Enjoy.
Serving for 6 (I tripled the recipe in my presentation)
1 ½ cups curly endive}
2 cups butter lettuce} use any three kinds of lettuce or even one kind if they are not available
1 ½ cups red lettuce}
1 large pomegranate
1 -2 large pink grapefruits
1 large avocado
1 -2 large fuju persimmons (the crunchy kind)
1 Meyer lemon, grate rind and juice
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
Seasoned Rice vinegar
Coconut aminos – optional
- Wash, cut and spin dry the lettuces.
- Seed pomegranate – pay attention because the juice can stain fabric; it’s come out in the wash for me though.
- Segment grapefruit(s). Cut away the skin and separate the segments by placing a knife between the segment and the white membrane between the segments. Do this over a bowl so that you can save the grapefruit juice. Place grapefruit sections on a plate or separate bowl. Squeeze the pulp when done so that all the juice is extracted and saved.
- Cube avocado into ½ inch or smaller chunks and toss gently in the grapefruit juice.
- Peel and slice persimmon(s) into small wedges.
- Spread all lettuces in a flat layer on a serving platter or individual dishes.
- Place grapefruit sections in a circular pattern around platter in concentrate circles.
- Place a persimmon slice next to each grapefruit segment alternating them.
- Spoon avocado chunks in circles in between the grapefruit/persimmon circles.
- Spoon pomegranate seeds over the avocado chunks.
- Add the grated lemon rind to the saved grapefruit juice bowl.
- Add the lemon juice.
- Add the olive oil.
- Taste and add seasoned rice vinegar if needed for desired acid/oil balance.
- Add fresh ground salt and pepper to taste.
- Add a few shakes of coconut aminos if available.
- Taste again and add more olive oil if needed.
- Stir and spoon over the salad just before serving