Nice Day, Scary Weather

It’s beautiful today in Oakland. It’s February and it’s blue-sky, t-shirt weather; things are blooming and buzzing and singing and there’s not a cloud in the sky. And frankly, I find it kind of terrifying.

We got tomatoes in our veggie box this week. Tomatoes! In February! Granted, they were “hoop house” (greenhouse) tomatoes, but still. This is supposed to be chilly, wet weather, the height of our rainy season. Instead we’ve had very little precipitation this winter, and it’s looking more and more certain that we’re headed into a drought. It’s nice now, but we’re going to pay later for all this sunshine.

Still, we did enjoy the tomatoes. I put them in a simple green salad that I learned to make from Sam’s mom: it’s like California summer in a bowl. Or, increasingly, like California February.

Nonna’s Fresh Salad

Take one head of green lettuce, washed and torn into bite-sized pieces. (I used romaine because we got some in our box, but the salad is even better with a more tender kind of lettuce, like curly red-leaf or butter lettuce.) Toss with one or two diced tomatoes, a diced avocado, and a generous handful of crumbled goat cheese.

For the dressing, use one part white balsamic vinegar and two parts good quality olive oil, whisked into a vinaigrette with a pinch of salt and some freshly ground pepper. I know this next sentence is going to make me sound like an unbearable hipster, but I’ve started using sea salt in my vinaigrettes and it really does make a difference—not the coarse-ground, chunky sea salt, but the kind that has a texture close to cornmeal. Or even fleur de sel if you like: this is the kind of simple, fresh dish where fancy salts have a chance to shine.

8 Responses to “Nice Day, Scary Weather”

  • ...iph... Says:

    Tomatoes! Wow! That’s amazing. Here, it’s like we’ve decided to skip February entirely and go straight into early April. I hate the fact that I can’t just relax and enjoy the wonderful mild winter (coming as it does on the heels of several absolutely devastating ones). As you said, there’s that little voice in the back of my head ruining all the fun, whispering, sure, this is soooo nice–but we’ll pay for it later. May blizzard? Summer of tornadoes? Rain of blood and toads? Who knows. But one way or another, we’ll pay.

  • ...iph... Says:

    …Hee hee hee. Can’t resist telling this one. We were vacationing with M. and family a while ago, and M. prepared an absolutely gorgeous caprese salad with their heirloom tomatoes and fancy salts. Divine.

    My husband, whose areas of expertise do not include the culinary arts, took a bite. His eyes went round. “I don’t want to alarm anyone,” he said, “but there appears to be a piece of broken glass in my salad.” 😀 I can never think of fancy salts now without picturing that look of barely contained horror in his eyes.

  • Todd Says:

    That’s only hipstery if you’re sporting an ironic 1970s porn-stache and wearing not ironically skinny jeans while talking about using sea salt with non-committal disdain. Otherwise, it’s just unapologetic foodyism.

    • shannon Says:

      Well, foodies and hipsters overlap a lot.

      Sea salt has had a big impact on my cooking. In fact, learning to use sea salt has probably been responsible for the second largest discrete jump forward in the overall quality of my food. (The biggest jump forward was when I started making my own chicken stock instead of buying the stuff in boxes. It’s really hard to overstate what a difference home-made stock makes. It’s immense.)

    • shannon Says:

      And it’s not like I was going to sea salt from Morton’s, either. I used a kosher brand of salt before, not bad salt at all — but the sea salt is really much better.

  • Aunt Eileen Says:

    Dear Shannon,

    I can’t find your email, but wanted to say I got the fruitcake and thank you for sending it. Enjoyed catching up on some of the entries, and the pics of the boys. Keep up the good work.

    Love, Aunt Eileen

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