So absolutely everything was decided and prepared at the very last second and when my friends started to arrive at ten o'clock on Saturday, the floor wasn't swept (oh well), the Christmas carols weren't programmed (oh dear) ... and the planned salad wasn't done.
I recruited my friend Ann to pour the champagne while I improvised a quick salad, skipping the greens and spending just a few minutes chop-chopping. Voila, there it was, a great winter salad that I will definitely make again.
The salad's vinaigrette was a great way to showcase the fancy new bottles of 'artisnal extra virgin olive oil' that arrived in simply gorgeous packaging from Alejandro & Martin. (Although the photo doesn't really do justice to the spectacular packaging. The bottles are tall and slender, like the graceful fingers of a pianist. The wood box's top slides into place through grooves on the side; my packrat nephew's going to love finding it in his Christmas stocking. And the bottles are protected by piles of zig zags of thin-cut brown paper, like crinkly fries for shipping.) I was recently lucky to share a promotional offer from the company with a handful of friends and we were ALL impressed, truly. At the cookie swap, we poured small pools of the 2006 'fragrant and fruity' vintage from Greece onto our plates and dipped our fingers. Oh my ... olive oil like I've never before experienced.
KITCHEN NOTES ... For a brunch, consider erring toward fruit, for a supper, toward celery and cauliflower. I added toasted/salted walnuts and dried tart cherries (from Trader Joe's and are just gorgeous, I like them better than dried cranberries these days). You could easily slip in some feta cheese.
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LAST-MINUTE FESTIVE CELERY, CAULIFLOWER & APPLE SALAD
Hands-on time: 10 minutes
Time to table: 10 minutes
Serves as many as needed
Celery, chopped small
Granny Smith apple, chopped small
Few pieces raw cauliflower, chopped small
Dried tart cherries
VINAIGRETTE (this is the right amount for about 6 servings, I judge)
Juice of a lemon
1 tablespoon good mustard
1 teaspoon honey
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste
Chop the salad ingredients. Whisk together the vinaigrette ingredients. Toss together no more than 30 minutes before serving.