Our new favorite place to stock up on a week’s worth of vegetables is at the “Potager d’Anne” a farm located in Le Val-David. Every Saturday morning, we pick up our “grand panier,” 15 euros-worth of seasonal veggies and fruits. This week, our “panier” was filled with potatoes, carrots, beets, shallots, dried herbs, squash, pumpkin, kale, and a sac of glorious greens, freshly picked that morning.
Let’s pop these guys into the salad spinner and give them a rinse while I explain how Salad is eaten in France.
By the way, if you haven’t invested in a salad spinner, you should. You put in all of the greens, fill it up with cold water, swish them around removing the dirt, then pull up the basket and dump out the remaining water. Repeat until the water is clear. Then spin away for perfectly dried greens. I usually store them in a large tupperware, the looser packed the longer they keep. Lots of French people keep them tied up in a “torchon” (a rag) in the refrigerator, but I seem to have better luck with the tupperware storage method. Once cleaned and dried, the lettuce stays fresh for about 6 days, or 3-4 salads worth.
In France, salad comes after the main course, and is meant to be a “pause,” during the meal. During this break, the refreshing bite of greens perks up your taste buds before cheese and then desert. When you think about it, that makes a lot of sense! Why start with a salad as an appetizer when you’re actually craving something a little more consistent? Some people like to eat salad at the same time as the cheese course.
Now let’s talk about dressing. If you think “French dressing” is common here, I don’t know one French person who has ever used store-bought Kraft dressings. Dressing is your opportunity to use a heart-healthy full-fat option. Dressing is made using 2/3 oil and 1/3 vinegar. We like to use different oils and different vinegars. Olive oil is the obvious choice but you could also add healthy options such as avocado oil. For the vinegars, I like to combine apple cider vinegar, wine vinegar, and balsalmic vinegar. Once all three are in your jar (you can use an empty jam jar) mix them all up. Some people like to add mustard and I’m one of them. A teaspoon will do. Shake in a couple shakes of salt and pepper, mix up, and you’ve got healthy salad dressing to last you a couple weeks.
Practically all French people sauce their salad in a communal bowl before each person takes what they want. I finally agree now, it’s just better this way!
You’ll notice a bottle of wine in this last photo. I don’t know much about wine so I won’t pretend to… but next time we will talk about the next yummy course which I do know a lot about now, cheese!