Saturday, February 26, 2011
A Toast to Bridge and Arugula
What’s cooking? Honey-Lemon Salad Dressing
Tournament bridge has been a passion of mine for a very long time – in college, I was one of those people in the dorm who would ambush anyone walking down the hall to be a fourth in some marathon game. But to everything there is a purpose, and a decade later, tournament bridge introduced me to my husband. (Not many people get their marriage announced in The New York Times’ bridge column!)
We put that passion on hold for many years while we raised our sons – the time and mental commitment was more than we felt we could give. And now that we’re retired, we are back on the tournament scene. But even at a bridge tournament, I can’t seem to get away from food and other foodies.
A couple of weeks ago, we were about halfway through an open pairs session, and as we sat down to face a couple of women, one of them said something about lemongrass.
“Lemongrass?” I said. “What do you know about lemongrass? I’ve been looking at some recipes that call for it, and didn’t know what sort of taste to expect.”
“It’s a citrusy taste,” she said. “So, if you like food,... do you like arugula?”
I pronounced myself an avid fan of arugula, whereupon she pulled out a giant bag of the stuff from behind her chair, and gave me a big bunch!
I love arugula almost as much as I love tournament bridge. In fact, I grew some in my garden last spring, and ate off it for ages. I took this photo after I decided to let some of the plants flower.
It’s a great time of year for arugula salads – the greens are a lot like spinach only more peppery, so your salad can have many of the same ingredients. (In the summertime, I go a completely different direction and toss it with tomatoes, shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and a simple vinaigrette. But I think I’ve said enough about my feelings in regard to winter tomatoes. )
For a winter salad, I remove the toughest stems, tear it into large-bite pieces, add fresh orange or grapefruit segments or diced pears, toss in sliced almonds for some extra crunch, and drizzle on a honey-lemon salad dressing I discovered years ago. If I’ve got goat cheese or feta, I’ll crumble some of that on, too. It’s easy to experiment with salads, and arugula is a great start.
Here’s the dressing.
Honey-Lemon Salad Dressing
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons honey [Kitchen Goddess note: I prefer acacia honey, but it’s not always easy to find, so just look for the lightest color honey on the shelf. They’ll be the ones with the mildest flavor.]
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup olive oil
fresh ground pepper
Whisk together the honey, lemon juice, and salt. Add the olive oil in a stream, whisking constantly as you pour. Add the pepper and adjust the seasoning to taste.