Tender local lettuce, sweet fruit, and cheese combine to make an elegant, early fall salad.
About two weeks ago I told Michael Berberian, owner and operator of his family’s Berberian Farms in Northborough, MA that I’d noticed he’d planted new rows of lettuce just recently. He smiled and said something like, “Oh yah. With global warming, we’ve been getting longer growing seasons.”
Sure, no doubt, it’s getting warmer. But then there’s also the enthusiastic way he’s been innovating for years to make his 40 acres yield so much more than expected that farmers from across the state recognize him for his incredible efficiency. You can tell just by talking with him that Michael has a no-kidding feel for the conditions the plants need to do what they do best. And, wow, it shows!
Here’s a sweet and savory salad made with Michael’s freshly picked leafy lettuce bowl variety lettuce. You’ll see in the pictures below that I’m using fresh figs, Italian prune plums and dried cranberries for the sweet flavors, though any fresh fruit and dried fruit will work just as well. All together, a sweet and savory salad brings out the best in complimentary flavors about the same way a well-balanced orchestra—or rock or jazz band—can explode with a rich symphony of sound.
Preparation Time: 5-7 minutes depending on number and type of ingredients
1 Handful of Lettuce Per Person
Favorite Fresh Fruit (I’m using a combination of fresh figs and Italian prune plums, but any fresh fruit will work)
1/4 Red (or any) Onion
Favorite Dried Fruit
Favorite Salad Dressing (or make your own with my easy recipe)
Feta (or any) Cheese
Ground Black Pepper
2. Tear the lettuce into bite sized pieces.
3. Prepare the fresh fruit by removing the stems and seeds as necessary and cutting the fruit into bite sized pieces. If you’re using fresh figs and/or Italian prune plums, the picture directions below will show you exactly what to do. If you’re using another fruit, use the picture directions below as a guide.
Fresh Figs: Remove the stem, cut the figs in half lengthwise, then cut them in cross section into bite sized pieces.
Italian Prune Plums: Cut the plums in half lengthwise around the seed, twist the two plum halves apart, remove the seed,…
…cut each plum half in half again lengthwise, and finish by cutting in cross section into bite sized pieces.
4. Cut a red (or any) onion in half, and cut one of the onion halves in half again.
Cut off the tough onion stem and root ends and peel the onion skin.
Cut slices about 1/4 – 1/2 inch (6-12 mm) wide, making sure not to cut through the back of the onion to keep the slices bound together, and chop those slices into pieces also 1/4 – 1/2 inch (6-12 mm) wide.
5. Put all the chopped ingredients into a bowl, top with a shot of salad dressing, and either have the salad as is or…
…add your choice or a combination of a crunch of ground black pepper, feta cheese,…
… nuts and/or dried fruit and …
All images courtesy of Bruce Tretter