Lime and Walnut Vinaigrette for Romaine Lettuce, Avocados and Pumpkin Seeds

Two winters ago, I read The Art of Eating, by M.F.K Fisher. M.F.K Fisher was America’s first female food writer and one of the first foodies. Like Julia Child who followed, Fisher grew up in California and lived out her early adult years in Europe in the 40’s and 50’s. Her short stories and essays are fascinating to me because they are so relevant to today, she was discussing seasonal foods and Europe’s superior gastronomy way back then.

Now if this book sounds interesting, let me warn you…The Art of Eating is 744 pages; finishing it was a major feat; it took a lot of early mornings and hot tea. It was well worth it and I recommend getting yourself a copy (there is a new 50th Anniversary Edition out), even if you just chip away at over the years. It is part cookbook, part history lesson, and part literature. I am not sure which shelf to keep it on….with my cookbooks or in the library next to my copies of Bleak House by Charles Dickens and The Brothers Karamazov (two other feats over 700 pages).

This “recipe” came from a flippant comment Fisher made in How to Cook A Wolf, she recommends “a salad of a little romaine hearts tossed lightly in seasoned walnut oil and lime juice”. I have since made it my own. Walnut oil is now a staple in my house and this salad is one of my signatures when I entertain; it is so simple and unexpected.

Do the kids eat this? No way! But, this is another example of how you can compose a “salad” for the kids made out of just the parts they are interested in. So, whenever I make this, I always toast extra pumpkin seeds (however many can fit in my pan), which they devour, and serve up chucks of avocado with a sprinkle of salt and a squeeze of lime for them to scoop up with a chip (guacamole not necessary). Both are super-foods and who cares if they don’t eat exactly what the adults are eating.

Makes: 1/2 cup dressing, dresses about 2 heads of romaine lettuce

Serves: 2 large dinner sized salads or 4 side salads

Lime and Walnut Vinaigrette

juice of  1/2 large lime, about 2T, maybe more, depends on how zingy you like it

2T walnut oil (I use Le Moulin De Marie)-STORE IN THE REFRIGERATOR

2 T high-quality sunflower seed oil (Driftless Organics sells a locally sourced and delicious sunflower oil that I use often, sold at co-ops) or light oil like canola

1/2 teaspoon honey (or agave in a pinch)

pinch of salt and some black pepper

  • Measure out the ingredients for the vinaigrette into an old jam or Dijon mustard jar with a lid, shake before dressing salad. You can make extra and use over the course of a few days.

Romaine Salad

about 2 heads of romaine lettuce (I buy the romaine hearts, sold three to a bag)

1 avocado with the flesh scooped out with a spoon

2-3 handfuls of Pepitos, or green pumpkin seeds, toasted (toast in a dry skillet over low until they start popping, add a tablespoon of olive oil and a pinch of salt. Let cool before eating or placing on the salad)

  • drizzle vinaigrette over the romaine, avocados and pumpkin seeds

Variations:

1. Sometimes I add chopped cilantro or basil to the salad.

2. You could crumble some feta cheese or shredded dry jack cheese.

3. Some toasted cumin seeds would be great with this. As would broken corn chips as “croutons”. Toss in a few handfuls of chickpeas for something more substantial. 

4. Use this dressing to dress a Mexican themed quinoa or pasta salad, like this one with black beans.

5. I have skipped the romaine all together and used only spinach; still delicious but not as refreshing.

6. Toasted Walnuts would be an obvious substitution for the pumpkin seeds.

 

 

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