Salad for dinner? You bet, we discuss how salad can be the main course.
May 29, 2012 1:13 p.m.
Jeanne Kelly, author, Salad for Dinner.
Related Story: 'Salad For Dinner' Author Serves Up A Main Course
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: This is KPBS Midday Edition. I'm Maureen Cavanaugh. We've done several shows focused on the urban farming movement. More people are growing their own produce or subscribing to CSA programs where they get monthly boxes of freshly grown fruits or vegetables or they are just talking about their local farmers market. But what exactly can you do with all that produce? A new book offers one answer to that question. It is a cookbook called salad for dinner. It is written by my guest, Jeanne Kelly. She will be in San Diego this Sunday at Chino farm for a book signing and a little salad tasting. Jeanne, welcome to the show.
JEANNE KELLY: Hi, Maureen.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: you must have people asking you all the time about how to use all the produce that they are getting these days is that how the idea for salads for dinner came about.
JEANNE KELLY: You know, it did not only people want to use those ingredients that come in their CSA boxes or what they might buy at Chino Farms, but they want to put more vegetables in your diet. I feel like that's a very important thing to do and so this book addresses that as well.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Now, are there essential combinations of ingredients to produce a really good salad?
JEANNE KELLY: I think you know you need a little bit of crunch and the crunch can be provided with a crouton and a vegetable or a not. It is great to have that little hint of salt from either some cheese or bacon, there's just so many great ways you can combine ingredients for a really great Sally.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I've read there are seven essential items that usually like to see combined in some way in a salad.
JEANNE KELLY: No because as you'll see in a cookbook there are lots of recipes that have nowhere near seven. But I do have a friend and that was her kind of rule of thumb that every salad needs seven ingredients and what would that be? Lettuce and cheese and the fruit and a nut, and I mean you could go on, but no, I try to avoid hard fast rules when it comes to things especially when it comes to making a great salad.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I think you do have one rule though, and that is the importance of fresh ingredients.
JEANNE KELLY: Yes that is I mean it would be sort of set to get a bunch of sad limp lettuce and put it together and try to make that a beautiful salad and maybe that's why people don't like selling. If there are people who don't like salad out there because they are not using the best ingredients that they can get and I feel like if you go to a farm stand like the Chino Farm stand, if you grow it yourself, if you shop at your local farmers market, if you get a CSA you'll be getting the best ingredients available and then it will be much easier for you to make a beautiful salad and a great dinner.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I bet there are still some people who think that solids are probably just too lightweight to make a main dish. The recipes in this book do you think would change their minds?
JEANNE KELLY: You know it's funny I do hear that like oh, they think salads are for ladies and meat and potato dishes are for men. But it's very surprising after having published and written this book to have all these men come up and tell me how much they love salad and so I think when I started doing all the recipes for this book I wanted my husband to know that we weren't going to be eating nothing but rabbit food while I was developing the recipes for the book. So there are some salads that feature meat and potatoes prominently. There's a salad that I call my steakhouse salad. And it has grilled steak, it has skillet roasted fingerling potatoes, beautiful greens, tomatoes and then it gets snapped with a blue cheese dressing. So that one, that woman make a salad lover out of any medium potatoes man.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: The picture he just looks fantastic. Now you have salads as this one does that mix texture and hot and cold. Is that a good way to introduce people to eating salad for dinner, that mix of hot and cold in just one plate so to speak?
JEANNE KELLY: I think so. I, when I've entertained in the summertime I've done things where I will serve like a big salad of vegetables, big salad of arugula, and then I will grill something like a pork tenderloin and I will serve that. And I notice that everybody sort of puts it on the same plate and eats it together and the hot pork tenderloin sort of wilts the arugula little bit and maybe I will pair it with a rumesco sauce and that kind of ends up on everything. And that to me is the salad so maybe don't put it on all those separate platters, serve it on one plate and utilities wonderful contracts contrast of flavor texture temperature there really create a lovely meal.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: need I think a lot of people may think about adding a meat to their salads will probably first think of bacon and then probably think of some sort of leftover chicken. How do you use chicken and some of your salad recipes?
JEANNE KELLY: Well I do have recipes that will use leftover you now, Sunday's roast, but also I love chicken thighs. I think chicken thighs have such a great flavor and texture, so I have one recipe that would be great for fall. That has roasted chicken thighs that get served with red mustard and red mustard is this wonderful soft peppery green, and you toss it with these hot chicken thighs that will to the red mustard and this bonds (inaudible). And that is just, that's a really lovely dish and I also have something, I have a recipe where I use Siracha, which is that wonderful hot sauce that is very garlicky and I marinate chicken thighs in that and I cut them up and I served them with greens and and blue cheese dressing. So it is kind of a take on Buffalo wings
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Talk about upscale, you have a salad paired with smoked duck in this.
JEANNE KELLY: Yes, smoked duck is a lovely in ingredient in for some people there are people don't like to eat red meat, it is similar to the idea of having if it is one of the like duck breasts it is similar to like eating prosciutto and that just pairs really nicely with screens.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Now if you don't want to add mest at all what are different ways to get that protein into a salad?
JEANNE KELLY: Well, there are so many wonderful greens that you can add to your salads these days there are we grains which are often called (ferro), there's barley, there is frequent, which is this great Middle Eastern bring that is green, and they burn it while it's still on my shaft and it gets a smoky flavor. Quinoa is a grain that is very high and protein and it's great in a vegetarian salad. And then there is cheese, you know if you have a low-fat cheese like a fresh mozzarella. If you pair that with tomatoes, beautiful tomatoes from Chino Farms and eggplant and a pesto vinaigrette, you know that's a good amount of protein, not a lot of fat and it's a wonderful late summer meal.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: what are some of the usual because you are like those selling master now what are the unusual ingredients that you've added to some of these salads and perhaps wouldn't occur to the rest of us.
JEANNE KELLY: I would say that I had anything too terribly unusually except maybe like a kohlrabi, maybe there are certain vegetables people haven't heard of before. I do like to use greens that may be most people aren't familiar with. There is this lovely green that some people think of as a was called purslane, that has a nice succulent leaf to it, and that I will lead to a (inaudible) salas, which is a take on a classic Middle Eastern salad. I will use a lot of herbs in my salads, too, because I think they had great flavor and if you are using herbs like parsley and tarragon and deal, you can use those almost like you would a salad green.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Exactly and when you talk about hot and cold in your salads you are not just talking about adding the hot meat dish. I mean, you grill a lot of vegetables in your salads.
JEANNE KELLY: I do, I think grilling vegetables just makes for such a great flavor. I have one salad where I have grilled asparagus and grilled artichokes and grilled shrimp. And then, that is served on a lovely bed of greens with a great saffron (eyeled), and that is just a delicious salad and it picks up all that great grilled flavor.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Is it easier to get people interested in making salads over other types of recipes? I mean doesn't seem as if salads maybe aren't as intimidating as I don't know, making a roast?
JEANNE KELLY: I do think so because there's something very inviting about a salad and you don't have to be exact. This is not baking a cake.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Right, right.
JEANNE KELLY: If you err a quarter and a cup here and there you are really not going to change the outcome of the salad too much. Unless maybe you overdressed it.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I was going to say is there a way that you can sort of ruin a salad?
JEANNE KELLY: Yeah, over dressing to me is the key. I think that that is the way you can take just a lot of beautiful ingredients and if you drown them in a heavy dressing, you've sort of wasted your efforts. So I'm a proponent of a very very lightly dressed salad. I think if you're using the best quality ingredients you don't need a heavy salad dressing. Just, you know a light good olive oil like the 36° olive oil that I'm going to give away samples of at the event. Lemon, like vinegar or good-quality vinegars really have a way of enhancing the flavor of a solid rather and of the fresh produce rather than contracting.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Chino, Chino, Jeanne, tell us about this event at Chino Farms on Sunday what are you going to be doing there.
JEANNE KELLY: This event, I am so honored and thrilled to be part of this. This is part of the Good Earth great chefs series. And it was started by (Mullane Christiansen) and Nina McConnell and they have this wonderful event and I am the third in a series and it is an ongoing series. There's Lamar but I'm the third cookbook author to come and get to present my book and my wares, so to speak. And appearing with this beautiful produce. And the first author to come was none other than Nancy Silverton and the other one was Alice Waters. So I'm in very very good company. Also coming to the event with me on Sunday will be Steve Wagner of Stone brewing Company and I have this thing, I am a beer geek and I do love San Diego County beers. Stone brewing Company beers in particular. And sometimes people feel that you know, salad is a light meal. So I feel it pairs beautifully with beer.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Let me tell everyone, Jeanne Kelly will be talking about her book, Salad for Dinner. It's this Sunday, June 3 from 11 to 1 at Chino Farm in Rancho Santa Fe. You can find out more information in the events section of our website@KPBS.org and thank you, thank you for telling us about this, Jeannie.
JEANNE KELLY: Maureen, thank you so much for letting me. I'm so excited to talk about it.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Be sure to watch KPBS evening edition that's tonight at 6:30 on KPBS television and join us tomorrow for discussions of San Diego's top stories right here on Midday Edition on KPBS FM. I'm Maureen Cavanaugh and thank you for listening.