My dream was so strange: I don't know what I was doing making a salad presented three ways for a Top Chef episode. But I remember in my dream I was so fascinated with the colors orange and deep purple that I lost track of the time and didn't finish my dish for the judges.
The first petit salad was made up of a fan of nectarines and black prince tomatoes with a tiny herb salad next to it and a sprinkle of fleur de sel. Then there was the nastursium, blackberry, and arugula salad which I've pictured above. And last... I can't remember... I know I was making three tiny salads all with similar colors and flavor profiles (whatever a 'flavor profile' is?) plated on a long white rectangular dish. It was elegant, fresh tasting, simple and colorful. If only I could remember the third one...
I was first introduced to nasturtiums by my Godmother who grew them in between her other garden vegetables. The forest behind her house was filled with tart juicy sweet wild blackberries and she would often send us kids out to pick berries and flowers until we couldn't carry anymore. Then she put everything into one salad bowl be it sweet, bitter, spicy, or sour. I always thought nasturtiums were just good for gardening – they keep pests away from other vegetables – until I tried one. They are sweet with a little bitterness to them, like blackberries. And they're so beautiful. Add some super spicy arugula and you've got a very interesting refreshing salad.
A nasturtium is a South American trailing plant with round leaves and bright orange, yellow, or red edible flowers. The origin of the name is Old English, from Latin, apparently from naris 'nose' + torquere 'to twist'. They don't last too long when picked, so make sure to put the stems in cold water until ready to use.
The recipe is simple: A bagful of spicy wild arugula, some ripe black prince tomatoes, a handful of freshly picked nasturtiums, 5-6 wild blackberries per person, some chopped fresh herbs (chives, basil, parsley, and even a little tarragon) and a red-wine vinaigrette made from 1 part vinegar and 3 parts olive oil. Sprinkle some fleur de sel over top to finish! I always dress my lettuce separate from delicate fruits and veggies so the colors don't mix up before plating.