I once read that the hallmark of a good French cook is the ability to improvise, to take random ingredients and toss together a credible meal.
I have always prided myself on this, on not relying solely on recipes but preparing meals by instinct.
Tonight, I found red leaf butter lettuce at the supermarket. Not only is it lovely to look at, with delicate spring green leaves tinged with pink and rose, it has a mild flavor. It is a good source of vitamin K, pro-vitamin A and folic acid.
I thought it would be the perfect foil for green onions, roasted asparagus and goat cheese.
And it was simple to make. I drenched some thin spiky spears of asparagus and a handful of blanched almond slivers in olive oil and roasted them for about five minutes in a 425-degree oven.
Once they cooled, I placed the asparagus atop four leaves of lettuce and sprinkled chopped green onions and the almonds on top of those
For contrast, I sliced three small radishes that were still delicate in flavor.
Finally, some herby goat cheese added a good hint of tartness and earthiness.
I tried a raspberry vinaigrette, but felt it was too strong and too much of a contrast for this subtle salad.
Since I did not eat until 8 p.m., the salad took the edge off my hunger. It was all I needed.
Spring is in the air this week. The sun is higher in the sky and the light is broad. The mourning doves came back to my yard two weeks ago and there was a downy woodpecker in my chestnut tree this morning. A red fox crossed the road in front of my car, perhaps in search of a mate.
Yes, it’s nearly spring.