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Now, back to the food. I went to a pot luck supper the other night. Because my last name begins with an “M”, I was slotted to bring dessert. Boxed brownies be damned, I traded with my friend whose name begins with a “G” and opted for the salad instead. Rather than toss a bunch of veggies into a bowl with a container of dressing on the side, I decided to create an arranged salad.
A long time favorite that often anchors my luncheon buffet table, a platter full of stacked veggies centered around a protein like fish or chicken is an ideal dish. Guests can pick and choose exactly what the want. Arranging the food on the platter brings out your inner artist. The colors and textures of the food mix and match to create an appetizing main course meal. The adage is true; we eat with our eyes first.
One of my favorite arranged salads is Salad Nicoise, named for its ingredients used by the chefs of the City of Nice, France, which includes garlic, tomatoes, anchovies, black olive, capers and lemon juice. Another all time fave is the Cobb Salad. As the story goes, the dish was the invention of Bob Cobb, at The Brown Derby restaurant in Los Angeles. As do all practical chefs, he was trying to find a way to use up leftovers. His first salad was created at the end of a long day, when Cobb realized he’d been to busy to eat. Wandering over to one of the restaurant iceboxes, a weary Cobb scrounged around to see what he could fix and an American main-stay was born.
We home cooks can take a lesson from sensible chefs. Creating a dish worthy of sharing with friends and family is about using what we have in the fridge, not letting anything go to waste, and having the confidence to take a flight of spicing fancy. Check out my recipe for Arranged Salmon Salad with Chinese Five Spice Vinaigrette to see what I mean.
The next time you’re asked to bring a dish to a pot luck supper, or to take your turn dropping off a meal for a friend in need, think outside the casserole and prepare an arranged salad instead. Your pals will say, “thank you” with their mouths full.
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Thanks a bountiful bunch!!!!