I’m not convinced that this salad and I are on good terms. I’ll take it further: this salad has it out for me.
I’d wanted to have a light eating day today, because of some pizza we had last night that wreaked havoc on my stomach. Unfortunately, because I often make very stupid decisions, I interpreted “light” as “not heavy” and not as “bland and easily digestible,” as I should have. I therefore ended up having a very fiber-filled day, a day for which my stomach is now paying me back with gas pains so bad I’m wondering if I’m actually about to be a candidate for that “I Never Knew I Was Pregnant!” show.*
Some tips so that this doesn’t happen to you: On a morning where you wake up with a roiling post-pizza stomach, do not have large salads for both lunch and dinner. Especially avoid loading up your salad with cruciferous vegetables, even if they do taste really fricking good with that sesame ginger dressing that you know is probably so bad for you that it effectively negates the salad but damn.
Sesame ginger dressing on bell peppers and broccoli, I just can’t quit you.
*Which: really? REALLY? I don’t disbelieve their stories, it’s just so far from the world I inhabit where people realize that the three months of vomiting and nine months of no-period and feeling something KICKING YOU FROM THE INSIDE followed by hours of intense pain means YOU ARE HAVING A DAMN BABY. High school health classes are doing our nation’s girls a real disservice with the whole “understanding pregnancy” thing.
In my defense, the gas pains that are currently distending my innards and pushing my vital organs into corners of my body where they should not go didn’t start until after the SECOND salad, the one where I ate half a large head of romaine lettuce. So in my defense, things seemed fine going into salad #2, giving me no reason to suspect that I’d be going into back labor tonight.
I should have known salad #2 was up to no good when I had such a so-so reaction to it, staring at the lettuce left on my plate while Brian sucked down every nugget of his.
Salad #2 was a caesar-esque affair, a seared head of romaine drizzled with Rick Bayless’s Topolobampo caesar (from this Smackdown), topped with a poached egg and served with some garlicky crostini on the side. There was a poached egg! The poached egg is the archetype of “light, non-threatening meal!” Alas, no slack is being cut me, and the saddest part of all: I didn’t even enjoy the salad that much. Maybe I was having a prescient reaction to it and was rejecting it before it could reject me, but it just didn’t come together on the plate or in my mouth the way it did in my head.
Of course, my head also thought that eating all that cucumber was a good idea, so I think we know how far we can trust my head. That is, NOT AT ALL. BAD HEAD. BAD.
Brian threw the dressing together – you can see it here, about halfway through the post, so I’m not going to rehash it. He did such a good job of it the last time and I so wanted to sit on the couch for an extra ten minutes that I let him take the dressing reins again.
I got off the couch to deal with the other salad components when it became clear that (1) no bon-bons were going to materialize as I lounged and (2) otherwise there would be nothing for dinner but salad dressing and a baguette. I sliced the baguette up, drizzled the slices with olive oil and threw them under the broiler, pulling them out 10 seconds shy of turning them into briquettes. I put a pot of water with a splash of white vinegar on to heat for the eggs, and a cast iron pan for the lettuce.
Look, I know, I’m well off the whole grilled/seared salad greens trend. And me normally being such a trend-setter. I don’t blame you if you never came back here again.
Brian asked why and how I planned to sear the lettuce, and I had no real answer other than, “I will place it cut-side down in a very hot cast iron skillet for a few moments until it colors but does not turn to mush.” Why? I had, and have, no idea. Because It Was There? Because it’s how the cool kids are treating their lettuce? To punish the lettuce? To punish myself? I’m still not sure, other than I thought it might make the salad a little more interesting.
That and the cool kid thing.
Oh, Elliott Smith; your music soothes the ears AND the piercing gas pains. Bless you.
I poached the eggs using a method that is ridiculously simple and has never failed to produce perfectly runny innards; use the freshest eggs you can find for the best results. Each hunk of singed lettuce got a good dose of dressing and an egg.
I remain unsure of my reactions to this salad. Keeping the lettuce whole reminded us both of the whole iceberg-with-blue-cheese thing. The spiciness of the dressing and the egg topper made me think of chilaquiles with lettuce standing in for tortillas, which I’m not sure is a good thing. The flavors were all good together; the sharp dressing was a good foil for the creamy, runny egg, and the charring thing actually did bring out another, smoky dimension to the lettuce, but this feel kinda flat for me.
Not so, as I mentioned for Brian, who took his last two lettuce leaves and remaining bits of egg and made a little lettuce taco, which he used to mop up the excess dressing and yolk coating the plate. He’s cute like that.
I hope I learned some kind of valuable lesson today, but probably not.
NOTE: This is as good a place as any to announce that I’m suspending the Hobo Tuesday event. I’d consider keeping it alive if others wanted to take over hosting every month, but I can barely keep this shit running without an event. And I kind of suck at running events, as anyone whose entry got lost, which is almost everyone, knows. It was fun while it lasted, kids. Thanks for playing along with me!