Intriguing salad items

Back in the “olden days”, the freshest fruits, meats and vegetables were restricted so that only royalty and the upper class could eat them. Because of this, the lower class and peasants had to make do with what was left.  This forced diet of barely edible dregs resulted in some of the finest and most creative dishes available in the world. Who would have thought pig’s cheeks could ever be tasty or collard greens so flavorful if someone hadn’t been forced to mess with them, plying their flavors out with all of the culinary skills in their armory.

Garden pea shoots - those twisty little do-dads at the top. Pinch them off just below a couple of the youngest leaves.

Garden pea shoots - those twisty little do-dads at the top. Pinch them off just below a couple of the youngest leaves.

It wasn’t until we were strolling past the Charleston Grill downtown and dropped in for a bite that we learned how many things are growing in our garden right now that we can eat. It started with the English garden pea shoots, an idea we had heard about from the Glass Onion, but hadn’t tried until it showed up, springing happily from our shrimp and scallop entree. They are deliciously flavorful and slightly sweet; and snapping the shoots off the top actually help the pea plants by encouraging more growth.

Arugula blossoms in the salad box.

Arugula blossoms were another new salad item. They were featured in one of the Grill’s locally grown salads and neither of us had ever thought to throw the weed-like blooms into our mixed greens. Kevin had just picked a bunch of them out of the salad bed the day before because he assumed you do the same with them as you do with basil – snap off the flowers so the leaves don’t become too tough. With the arugula, the leaves do

become tough and extra spicy, but allowing the blossoms to grow is worth it.  Kevin never had to worry about the blossoms; the next day, twenty more shoots were unfolding their small white flowers and we quickly snapped off a handful and tossed them in our dinner salad.

What a taste! The arugula blossoms were surprisingly citrus-y and spicy at the same time; adding a bright, zesty quality to the dark leafed melange.


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