Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Ubuntu’s Leaves and Things Salad

There were many things that inspired me during my recent lunch at Ubuntu, the vegetables-only restaurant in Napa. One of them was its simple Today's Leaves and Things green salad that came out looking so beautiful and tasted so refreshing with its light dressing and little bits of locally grown greens.

So I decided to replicate this at home. I started with a trip to the Sunday Temescal Farmers Market near my home in Oakland, and picked up a bag of mixed greens with edible flowers. That took care of the “Today's Leaves” part.

Then I hunted for baby carrots and figs, the seasonal ingredients Ubuntu added to its salad. None of the farmers had baby carrots, especially not the baby heirloom carrots that Ubuntu probably grows in its own garden. So I went to my nearby Piedmont Grocery and picked up a bunch of orange baby carrots and black mission figs. These were my “Things.”

I made sure that the figs I bought were also small because proportion seemed to play a role in the presentation. (BTW, you can always eat your leftover figs by cutting them in half, sprinkling sugar on the sides, and grilling them. Then serve warm with vanilla ice cream. Yum.)

For the dressing, I kept it really simple like Ubuntu. So I just mixed the juice from one lemon with high-quality extra virgin olive oil. (You know I only use the best from here.) I did add a bit of sugar because I always feel lemon is really tart on its own. So really, it was only just lemon juice, olive oil and a pinch of sugar. And be restrained when mixing in the dressing with your salad.

The real trick I learned from Ubuntu was the crackling of sea salt to finish off the salad. Not a whole lot, but just enough to complement the lemon juice dressing and bring out even more the natural flavorings of the carrots, figs and vegetables. Use coarse sea salt in a grinder or sprinkle a pinch of fleur de sel.

And there you have your very own seasonal green salad that can be as pretty as any restaurant. (OK, not to be against the whole vegetable movement and mission of Ubuntu, but I was soooo tempted to drizzle a few slices of prosciutto at the end. Don’t you think that would have been yummy?)

6 comments:

Chubbypanda said...

The wife loves edible flowers. I think I'll try making this salad for her.

Passionate Eater said...

OMG, your pix are gorgeous! I think you kicked Ubuntu in the butt in terms of excellent salad making!

Carolyn Jung said...

No doubt that Chef Jeremy at Ubuntu would be delighted at your results. There's no better compliment to a chef than to have a diner still thinking wistfully about a dish days or weeks or years later. Bravo on the beautiful rendition of the salad.

foodhoe said...

ooh yeah Chef Ben, your pictures are quite beautiful! Ahhh, this reminds me of that delicious meal we enjoyed in the almost forgotten summmer heat just two weeks ago! Looks great, I think Mr. K will love it too...

agent713 said...

LOL I love the idea of the addition of prosciutto. That would be yummy!

taste memory said...

that looks awesome + I love flowers in my salad ;-)