When I created this salad last night I knew it was a good idea as soon as I put it all together in the bowl. But it was so very simple, but simplicity seems to be the rule of the recipes around here. Approachable, simple, and fresh. Maybe that’s what I make most often, and I’m guessing most of you do too. Even with that said, I feel like I’m not offering anything impressive. There are no fancy techniques or hardly any time involved in this preparing this recipe. So I didn’t photograph or jot it down for you when I made it. Then I pulled out the leftovers today. It was still singing with flavor. The peppy licorice pop of the fresh tarragon sparkles against the sweet apple and bright clementine slivers. The thin slices of fruit helps the fruit not sink to the bottom of the bowl when you toss it, and it gives you more pieces in the salad, and a better chance to pick an assortment of each component in every forkful. It’s that composition that makes the salad so interesting, and even compelling. Can a salad be compelling? Like a good book that you are eager to rush back to, to find out what comes next, and taste the exquisite mingled mix in the next bite? I believe the best ones are. Salad gets a bad rap, but good salads are food for the senses: bright to the eyes, crisp to the ear, fresh by the scent and lively on the tongue. Great salad is refreshing when you need a good pick-me-up on a dismal day.
While many greens could work here, the spinach is simple and delicious paired with the fruit and herb, with a bare and basic dressing of white balsamic vinegar, good organic olive oil, sea salt and fresh-milled pepper. I like the clean taste of just those few ingredients together that really lets the tarragon come through without a competition. But I keep the quantity in check so it can’t overpower the dish. The flavors are so bright and happy together I felt like I was eating out of season since the skies outside today are as murky and muddled as canned gravy. Totally the kind of weather that calls for creamy comfort food, but I need some balance too. Yes, the salad was just the right antidote, and I will be making it again, and soon.
Salad with Tarragon, Apple and Clementine
Four large handfuls of baby spinach or mache
1 crisp apple (pinata is nice here), quartered, cored, and thinly sliced
1 clementine orange, peeled and thinly sliced
about 1-2 T. tarragon, roughly chopped
3 T. best-quality olive oil (honestly, though I think the organic costco brand is great everyday stuff and the price is right)
1 T. white balsamic (you can use the dark lovely stuff, the white was just prettier here)
Sea salt + fresh ground pepper
Whisk dressing together in the bottom of the serving bowl. Add the fruit and tarragon and toss. Add the spinach and toss again. Serve. Bonus: if you use a sturdy lettuce like baby kale or spinach this salad will keep nicely for a day in the fridge.