Goodbye Cheeto, we've elected Salad for president.
It's rare for cookbooks to have a sense of humor, and these days it seems even rarer to find a cookbook that's not either super serious and ~fancy~ or suited entirely for Instagram. Not to mention the gap between food I want to look at vs. food I want to cook. We review a lot of cookbooks on EAF and that means we flip through about 50 times as many to find the ones we want to cook from and write about. And I think we've seen just about everything. Pop culture cookbooks with the smiling face of a celebrity on the cover, square books that hint at the writer's claim to fame, a lot of minimalism, a lot of maximalism, and a lot of very hazy filters which I feel are entirely unsuitable for food photography. Each type is excellent in its own way; some to look at and some to use the shit out of.
Salad for President had us at first glance. Jessey (above) sent me the cover and said hey what about this and I was immediately like YES PLEASE bring it to me like some demanding food diva. That title, that cover, and that theme. Yes. At EAF we love colour and lots of it. The pages of SFP are vibrant, like a bag of Skittles sandwiched between two covers. It also features different artists throughout the book making it a cross between beautiful aspirational coffee table book, recipe collection, and interesting creative content.
We decided to make Heirloom Tomato Salad with Crunchy Cornmeal Croutons, page 152.
Allergies in the kitchen: peanuts, nuts, dairy, legumes (me) and almonds and peaches (Jessey).
The only ingredient we had to eliminate in this recipe was ghee, and we just used olive oil instead. I was drawn to this recipe because I love heirloom tomatoes and cannot get enough of them at any time of year, even when they're on par with the cost of gold in the dead of winter. And crispy polenta? How can you not want to eat that. I generally make soft polenta due to being super impatient and having grown up eating it that way, so it was nice to mix up a classic favorite.
I forgot to buy the vegetable juice that the recipe called for (to add to the soft polenta) but fortunately I had made extra veggie stock the night before, so Jessey was able to use that instead. The juice would have given the polenta bites a richer colour but it still looked and tasted delicious regardless. One thing we would do differently next time would be to fry the polenta in a non-stick pan or drizzle the olive oil on and then roast on high in the oven. The recipe called for heating the oil in the pan until it was hot, then tossing in the polenta chunks and returning to the oven. This resulted in Jessey getting smoked out when she opened the oven and the smell of extremely hot olive oil permeating my kitchen. They were nice and crispy in the end, but we decided we'd use a different means to reach the same end.
Look how beautifully it turned out! The flavor was bigly. You've never had better flavor.
Like all successful recipe tests, we stood around the finished plate and ate it with our hands like animals. The polenta obviously went first.
Salad for President is a fantastic book for those seeking recipe inspiration and excitement pre-grocery shopping. We like that it's not veggie only and does have recipes with meat and fish because we love meat and fish. There are quite a few recipes that contain common allergens however we're all for soaking up ideas and then adjusting based on your dietary restrictions and allergies, as we did. In my house salad is king and no meal is complete without it. This book will live on my shelf for a very very long time.