In addition to much squirrel watching and rock painting, fence climbing and flower picking, springtime brings the equinox (and Gabe’s world famous chimichurri sauce), Passover (matzo fresca, chocolate-hazelnut-flourless-wow! delights from Jess), and Easter (egg dyeing, carrot cake).
Springtime brunch with friends brought a creamy, delicate fritatta (packed with veg!) and a custardy baked french toast (with a crispy top!). (Us, the lazy hosts? All we did was rinse berries and pour mimosas.) There was the planting of the backyard vegetable garden, and the gleeful rumpus when our front yard burst – overnight! – into magnificent bloom. Sandals and shorts arrived, while comforters have been folded into closets.
Jacob keeps saying “I think the colors of spring are pink and orange and purple.” The tulips and jasmine and rhododendrons are on his side, and every time he says it – “pupple” – my heart melts a little. But when I look around, what I see is green.
Maybe that greenness is why I’ve been obsessed with Sam Sifton’s Canlis salad recipe from The New York Times Magazine: he called the column “Smells Like Green Spirit.” (The salad hails from a restaurant in Seattle … ) On first read, I wasn’t totally sure that I wanted any part of putting a runny coddled egg in my salad dressing. But Sifton is convincing, or maybe I mean conniving. His words have a way of staying in my head: a night or a week or a month later Jacob is spinning lettuce and I am looking at a lemon and suddenly, out of nowhere, Sifton is talking about crisp romaine “all cloaked in a thick, lemony dressing that recalls Caesar … a strong scent of the Middle East … heaps of chopped mint and oregano mixed in with the greens …” Ah. Hm. Yes.
I should probably mention that I have been eating the heck out of eggs lately – they’re in season*, adorning Easter baskets and seder plates and Nowruz celebrations. Hens (hens that aren’t forced by artificial light to lay year round anyway) are coming into their own in spring, ramping up or starting off on their laying. Fifth Crow sells pullet eggs this time of year: eggs from pullets (young chickens) are slightly smaller, $1 less per dozen, and the perfect size to make having two on a salad (or coddled in a jar) seem like a really good idea.
Sifton’s salad is actually pretty easy to make as it appears in the magazine, but if you are looking for a five minute version (well, five minutes plus the time to boil your water) look no further. Instead of coddling an egg, I very softly boil two.
Breaking them open on top of the salad (kind of like Deb does on this toast) means you can toss the rich yolky yellowness with the greens and herbs and lemon juice right on your plate – no need to worry about whisking, emulsifying, or even making extra dishes. This treatment makes a joyful, easy celebration out of all that market bounty of new baby lettuces. It is my lunch of the moment, and a most delicious indulgence when all the world is green. Or pink, or orange. Or even pupple.
* Happy egg season! Yes, we have more springtime to celebrate! Try Kimberley’s salad of miner’s lettuce and asparagus (because, talk about green! And I grew up munching miner’s lettuce in my backyard!) or Emily’s Egg Rabbit (because “Cheesy beer-covered breakfast for dinner will make everything better” for some people, like the one I’m married to) or Molly’s Spinach and Cheese Strata (because if you are going brunching, it is perfect, and if you are not, there will be more deliciousness for you!).
Five Minute Canlis-ish Salad with Soft Eggs
(or Smells Like Green Spirit, or Canlis Salad Lite)
Adapted from Sam Sifton’s recipe for Canlis Salad in The New York Times Magazine
The Canlis Salad is a pretty true Steakhouse salad, and Sifton’s recipe calls for bacon, fresh homemade croutons fried in the bacon fat, thin sliced scallions, tomatoes, and freshly grated Romano cheese. If you have any bacon handy, if tomatoes are in season where you are, if you happened to just make some croutons … by all means, add them. But if you have barely five minutes to make yourself lunch, and you do it just as I have been (without all those parts) – you will still be glad. Very glad.
(Though that grate of Romano is really pretty easy, if you have say 5 1/2 minutes to get your lunch plated. A little bit of salty crumbled feta also makes a nice addition, if your microplane isn’t handy for grating.)
(Update: a little tiny drizzle of Heidi’s buttermilk-garlic sauce, if you have some in the fridge, is also … okay, it’s amazing with the greens and eggs. Make it.)
1 large lemon
Several large handfuls of chopped crisp romaine, baby arugula, or little gem (or …)
Large handful of mint leaves
Large handful of oregano leaves
Salt and pepper
Boil a small pan of water. Once the water is boiling, add the eggs and set a timer for five minutes. (If your eggs are very large, you might need 5 1/2 minutes.)
(If you don’t have homemade croutons sitting around, you might want to now put some bread in the toaster or under the broiler.)
While the eggs boil: roughly chop the mint (to “discipline it” per Sifton) and the oregano. Toss the herbs with your lettuce or other greens, plus all the juice from the lemon and a good glug of olive oil. (Remember that the eggs will be adding richness, so you don’t need as much oil as you would for a regular dressing.)
When five minutes is up, carefully remove the eggs from the pan with a spoon. Rinse them under cold water until the shells cool enough to touch. Peel them carefully, and set on top of your plated greens. Salt and pepper them – be generous but not ridiculous.
Grab your toast if you made it and add it to your plate. Then, with your fork, pop open the eggs. Mix the yolks around, not aggressively, but enough to spread them a little over the nearest greens. They will continue to mix in as you eat, and you should find that each bite is relatively “cloaked in a thick, lemony dressing …” and so on.
Sifton also promises that this salad, done right (don’t skimp on the mint or on the lemon, even in this cheater’s version) should be a revelation. And really – isn’t that the point of spring? Rebirth, renewal, rejoicing and revealing – salad as revelation is springtime in a nutshell.
(Or an eggshell. Yep, I said it.)