Sometimes all you can hope for at the end of a long day is a little bit of harmony. Whether through yoga, walking your dog, or blasting Bona Drag, you find it and somehow the day washes away. Often I find this harmony by cooking (sometimes with the Morrissey at the same time)--a chance to relax, create, and then have something delicious to show for it. I have a recipe that, while deceptively simple, works so well that it manages to restore faith in the world as a generous place full of undiscovered pleasures. It's a matter of limes, chives, and a protein of your choice.
The first time I had this meal was in Bloomington, Indiana. My girlfriend was about to graduate from college and her family had gathered from near and far to celebrate and, most importantly, to eat. Laid before us were platters full of grilled salmon, spears of blanched asparagus, snap peas, and leafy greens dressed with a lemon Dijon vinaigrette. Everyone took some of each. Some tossed it together into a kind of salad, breaking the salmon into chunks. Alongside was a red potato salad with a creamy consistency held together with a gentle lime acidity.
Herein lies genius. Limes. I know people that buy bowls of them just to have them nearby.
What is it about them? Is it that it reminds so many of us of vacations in Florida or Mexico? Of Coronas served with wedges? It's beyond my understanding and there it likely will remain.
The whole salad came together in a symphony (forgive my effusiveness, but you'll have to trust me on this one). Was it lemon-and-lime citrus camaraderie, one from each dish, that made magic? The chlorophyll-loving greenery every which way? The way a salad is itself a generous and welcoming platform for ingredients to come together, a venue so potentially successful (but prone to overcomplication and failure)? Did it have nothing to do with the food at all, and it was simply the communal serving style, and the fact that we were celebrating an occasion?
All factors numerous and unquantifiable. All meaningless in the light of a wonderful, harmonious dish. I've recommended this to many people and it's always produced enthusiasm. This time around, I replaced the salmon with grilled skirt steak, used only mixed greens, and it was still a light, filling and perfectly balanced meal. I really have no idea what it is about using the red lime potato salad and the lemon vinaigrette with greens. But I hereby ask you to cook it and tell me it's not a revelation.
The Potato Salad
1 1/2 lbs small red potatoes, cut into 1/8 inch slices
1/4 c. mayonnaise
5 T's plain low-fat yogurt
3/4 t grated lime zest
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
3/4 t kosher salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
1 scallion, green part only, thinly sliced
1 t Dijon mustard
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup extra-virgin oilive oil
1/2 t kosher salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
12 cups salad greens
3 T's lemon vinaigrette
Your choice of protein - a couple pounds.
Marinate with a little lemon juice, olive oil, and salt and pepper. Optional: garnish with freshly sliced mint.
Your choice of greens, asparagus, snap peas, shelled peas (tossed with vinaigrette). Perhaps a bundle of asparagus, pound of snap peas.
Place potatoes in a saucepan, cover with cold water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, cover and simmer until just tender, about 5 minutes. Drain
and let cool. Whisk together the mayonnaise, yogurt, lime zest and juice, salt and pepper. Toss the potatoes with the dressing. Place in a bowl and garnish with the scallion.
Make the vinaigrette: Whisk the mustard and lemon juice together. Whisking constantly, slowly
drizzle in the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
Next, cook your meat. In the original recipe, you'd use 1 1/2 pound salmon. Rinse, pat dry and season with S&P. Bake until just cooked through, about 20 minutes. Let cool, pull off the skin and flake with a fork into large chunks. Place in a bowl and gently toss with 2 teaspoons lemon juice, salt
and pepper to taste. Garnish with 1 tablespoon sliced fresh mint. I simply grilled the skirt steak, which had marinated briefly with salt, pepper, olive oil, and lemon juice.
Toss your greens and green vegetables with the vinaigrette. Serve the elements separately and allow people to build their own salads.