Fig and Herb Salad (and a juice cleanse verdict)
I finished my BluePrint Cleanse juice cleanse last Saturday, and the verdict is: totally worth it. I felt terrific: focused, calm, happy. At no point did I feel hungry, deprived, fatigued, or even cranky. The juice was super tasty, although I have to say, after three days I was ready for some new flavors. I couldn’t wait to get in my kitchen and cook some food again.
The timing of the cleanse was kind of perfect: I finished it up the day after my cast came off, so I was doubly ready to cook, to mess about with all the glorious produce we get from our CSA each week and experiment. It was the best feeling. There are a few things the cleanse experience made me realize: 1) I didn’t really know until after I finished that what it had largely been about for me was self-discipline. I needed something to bring me back into control, after a month of feeling very much that things were out of my control. 2) I love love love food. I think about food and cooking a lot. I read about food and cooking a lot. Food is kind of my life. 3) I eat a lot when I’m bored. Who doesn’t? But it’s not a great habit.
Right now I’m still feeling quite zen, and although I went through the suggested post-cleanse far faster than was recommended, I still feel very good. I came away from the experience with a better sense of what my body’s hungry feelings really are, when my body needs fuel and when it’s just craving something, and knowing that I can feel full without eating starchy, salty things. I’m still in a vegetarian/mostly-vegan eating phase, but we’re going to New York this weekend, so who knows if it’ll last. I have to say, I have a far greater appreciation for taste and texture than I think I did before this cleanse experiment. I am even more in love with food now than I was before, and I mean real food, fresh vegetables and grassy olive oil and sweet berries and peaches, and tangy yogurt. It is all just so happy-making.
So, what was my first meal post-cleanse? Well, it was actually some melon, right when I woke up. But then we went to the farmers’ market in Jack London Square, and when we came home, I made this gorgeous fig and herb salad that I just have to share. It’s nothing too special, but it made me unbelievably happy.
This vinaigrette is one of my favorites, and is very simple. We used half for this salad, then last night I put the other half on some Portobello mushrooms and grilled them up. It’s easy and delicious. The figs were very sweet, so balancing them against the slightly bitter greens and tangy vinaigrette was good. Overall, a winner in the simple salad department.
Fig and Herb Salad
There are no measurements here. Just do what feels right.
- A few big handfuls of mixed greens
- A few figs
- About 5 big mint leaves
- About 5 big basil leaves
- 1 medium lemon cucumber or 1 small green cucumber
- Shallot vinaigrette (see below)
I don’t need to tell you how to make a salad, right? The figs were thinly sliced, and the herbs were minced pretty finely. The cukes were cut into quarters and sliced. Everything mixed together in a bowl and drizzled with dressing. Yum.
This uses some less-common ingredients. By all means, experiment with what you have, but if you can, seek out some verjus and walnut oil. I think it elevates this vinaigrette just enough to make it very special.
- 1 small shallot
- juice from half a lemon
- a splash of verjus (probably about a teaspoon
- a pinch of salt
- about 1 – 1 1/2 tablespoons walnut oil
- about 1 – 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
Mince the shallot into fairly small bits. Add to a small bowl with the lemon juice, verjus, and salt, and let sit for about 10 minutes. This is a great time to prep your salad ingredients.
Slowly whisk in the walnut oil and the olive oil until you’ve got about 1/4 cup of dressing, maybe a bit more. This is probably enough for two salads. If you want, you can also mix the ingredients in a jar with a lid, and shake to emulsify. That’s my usual method, but all of our jars with lids were in use.
I don’t think I’ve ever had a salad that made me so happy.