Jamaican Potato Salad Extraordinaire
Of course any lettuce plant will reach a point where its leaves taste very bitter and by mid August much of the lettuce for his salads comes from the local supermarket - but he still gets dozens of other ingredients from the garden. Here are some of those other greens in Grandpa Green s garden that find their way into his delicious salads. Radicchio provides a nice burgundy red color. Be careful to use sparingly in a salad as radicchio is naturally bitter and remove the thick white stem part of each leaf. Arugula is very easy to grow from seed and you can start by harvesting the extra seedlings for salad while thinning out the seedlings. Pick individual leaves as the plants grow and you can get two or three months worth of arugula flavor from each plant. I find arugula one of the most interesting flavors in a salad.
A delicate seasonal food it was enjoyed in summer only and not available year round until the 20th century when California grew and shipped head lettuce nationwide. No question foodie president Thomas Jefferson experimented with a number of varieties which were served daily to his family and dinner guests with vinaigrette dressing or a sprinkling of herbs and mayonnaise (his chef was French-trained). As Americans developed more sophisticated tastes traditional iceberg lettuce took a backseat to Romaine arugula endive radicchio and field greens. Originally these varieties were considered greens for the elite due to price and perishability. Of late retro salads are showing up with quarters of iceberg lettuce and dressing. For Boomers who grew up on the stuff it harkens back to the 50s along with Spam salad meatloaf canned fruit cocktail and Popsicles.
There s an old half whiskey barrel on the cottage deck that grows pansies and a few of the pansy blossoms sometimes find their way into a salad (they are edible as are violet blossoms if you don t mind picking them out of your lawn). Lemon balm is another interesting perennial with a citrus flavor that makes it easy to identify when playing the salad guessing game. Tarragon is another anise-flavored herb but I m not a big fan - for some reason I find tarragon numbs my mouth. But I ve been overruled on that account and there s always a little tarragon in our cottage salads. Kale grows well in northern gardens and we sometimes harvest mature kale in the dead of winter. When the plants are young in August and September the smaller leaves go well in a salad but because they are rough they do need to be torn into small pieces.