I was 17 when I received knowledge of bottled salad dressings courtesy of my college cafeteria. I am and remain a late bloomer. I was amazed that there were other dressings called "Russian," "French," Ranch," and Blue cheese." To this day, my blue cheese dressing consists of pieces of blue cheese pieces in salad and then mixed with - oil and vinegar!
She didn't whisk the oil and vinegar together - she dressed it directly on to the salad, tossing until it pleased her. It always pleased me. I still think only Italians can properly dress salads although I will give a nod to the French who have whisked some mighty fine vinaigrettes in their time.
This salad adapted from Tastes of Italia, contains no vinegar much to my early chagrin. The acid is orange juice and it brightens and elevates the spring leaves. Which shakes me out of my certainty about the world. The world's salads seem to work best with vinegar. But here it is all sunshine and light with orange juice. I am evolving. Spring wafted from the salad bowl and calmed winter nerves. We were inebriated with the taste of spring.
Spring Salad with Peas and Pancetta
1/2 cup pancetta, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil (can use less)
3 tablespoons of fresh orange juice (I used twice that amount)
1 garlic clove, minced (or I think - a shallot would be good here)
1/3 cup chopped pecans (I used chopped hazelnuts and I used a lot more)
8 cups spring baby greens (I added arugula and spinach)
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 cup frozen peas, thawed (or fresh peas if you can find it - lightly cooked)
1/2 cup Grana Padano, chopped or cumbled (I used freshly-shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano)
Kosher salt and pepper to taste
- In a small-medium skillet combine olive oil and chopped pancetta - cook for about five minutes (until pancetta is crisp).
- Add orange juice, garlic and nuts.
- Cook for two minutes (I cooked for 30 seconds).
- Remove from heat to cool.
- When dressing is cool, combine salad ingredients and toss with the dressing. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve.
I am considering ending the play with my cynical teens chiming in slowly and quietly with:
"I see the moon and the moon sees me.
God Bless the moon and God bless me."
It's a slightly wicked thing to do to my teen actors. But it would be highly effective. And unexpected. Like orange juice for vinegar.