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Salad Days

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In the midst of The Great Twin Cities Burger Blitz, hat tip to MoDub for reminding me that I had been meaning to blog about salads. Now that we're mid-way through the summer, there's no excuse for getting stuck in a salad rut--you can do a lot better than iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, and shredded carrot. The Times and the Strib both ran with salad themes recently, with Mark Bittman offering a whopping 101 simple salad ideas--a totally useful article, with lots of fresh sounding suggestions (Sunday brunch salad; pineapple, guanciale, and chili vinaigrette) divided into categories like "mostly vegan" "seafood" and "noodles." Keep that one in the kitchen for those times when you're standing with the refrigerator door open and seeking inspiration in the chilly void.

I like to think of salads more as ingredient pairings than strict recipes. A few of my faves to make at home include frisee-aux-lardon, pear/candied walnut/blue cheese, blueberry/pecan, orange/beet, cucumber/corn/cilantro, and french lentil/goat cheese/tomato with house-made croutons (fry leftover cubed bread in bacon fat!).

As for restaurant salads, I've had a few good ones recently at Victory 44 (apple/cheddar/candied walnuts) and Northeast Social (arugula/peas/bacon/red onion/mint). The Farmer's Salad at Lucia's is a longtime fave, as are the Nicoise at Barbette, tomato/watermelon at Spoonriver, and the Chinese Chicken Salad at 20.21 (pictured) for starters...