I normally don't write about salads. I don't know why not because when I first began cooking I was hired as garde manger at a lovely Italian restaurant in SF (Ristorante Ecco now closed).
Although Guy Savoy has influenced my cooking today and deepened my love and appreciation of French Cuisine, I always seem to fall back on memories of my first cooking job. Perhaps it is the muscle memory of making salads & starters ingrained forever in my hands that triggers some part of my brain when it craves ruffage. The salads we used to make – so beautiful – piled high with seasonal greens and vegetables. Then lightly dressed with the perfect vinaigrette and accompanied with some sort of cracker, cheese crisp or smoked fish.
Ten years ago in San Francisco special lettuces like baby arugula (rocket) and lolla rosa were not common. Now we don't even think twice when we see either of them on the menu or in the super market. But there was a time when the only options were: romaine, red lettuce, boston lettuce, and iceberg. Funny how the pendulum has swung the opposite way, I haven't seen an iceberg salad in years, and I don't think I'd want to unless it was smothered in Maytag blue with a thick slice of tomato!
This recipe is light and refreshing. Radishes and cucumbers are taking over all the markets in Paris right now and they are delicious on hot days. I love the cooling effect of sweet cucumbers and the kick that the radishes add. Pair them with a little mixed lettuce (frisée, mâche, rocket, radiccio, etc.) and some crumbs of blue cheese for a beautiful first course. The little radish slices always remind me of confetti which just makes the salad a little more festive in my mind.
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Salade de Concombre et Radis
1 bunch french radishes (the long skinny red ones)
4 big handfuls of mixed lettuce (frisée, mache, rocket, radiccio, etc)
5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons tarragon vinaigrette
Crumbs of blue cheese
Big pinch of fleur de sel
Freshly ground pepper
1. Slice half the bunch of radishes into thin rounds to sprinkle around plate like confetti. Chop the rest of the radish to add to salad mix
2. Slice 2/3rds of the cucumber into thin rounds and plate overlapping in a circle on salad plates. Chop the remaining cucumber to add to lettuce mix.
3. Whisk the olive oil in a slow drizzle into the vinegar and add salt and pepper to taste.
4. Toss lettuce and chopped veggies with salad dressing.
5. Place in the center of cucumber circle and add crumbs of blue cheese.
6. Sprinkle fleur de sel around salad and radish confetti