How do the perpetually anxious keep focused on slow days? This particular specimen likes to fantasize about food prep, the blissful combination of mindfulness and mindlessness involved with slicing and dicing up that evening’s meal. These daydreams work like a pendulum, the back and forth motion of my knife sends me into a state of hypnotic happiness. My fantasies don’t always come into fruition, it depends on how I feel about shopping for food in a crowded store after talking to people at work all day. This salad happened organically if not obsessively, I couldn’t stop thinking about the big bowl of local Okanagan peaches I had sitting in a bowl on my kitchen counter. I also couldn’t stop thinking about the smoked duck breast from Hills Foods I had in my freezer, ready to be quickly defrosted and seared until crispy perfection. When the time came to finally turn on some music, put on my “house slippers” (AKA house flip flops), and make a rye and ginger before settling down for a good prep session I was in a state of serenity unknown throughout the rest of my day. I made this for my mom and sister while Ian was visiting family in Seattle, it feeds 3 people generously. You could easily grill the peaches or use nectarines to punch up the sweetness, I dressed the salad with a rich homemade fig dressing so I felt the ripe uncooked peaches could stand on their own. Butter lettuce is best for this salad, it softens the whole feel of the meal and provides a gentle backdrop for the assertiveness of the duck.
smoked duck breast salad with peaches and butter lettuce:
1 head of butter lettuce, gently torn into small pieces
2 shallots, sliced thinly soaked in red wine vinegar or lemon juice for at least 15 minutes
2 ripes peaches, thinly sliced (poach briefly in water to peel them easily, or leave the skin on)
1 smoked duck breast, thinly sliced (or if we’re being realistic about ingredients you could just use prosciutto or Serrano ham torn into loose ribbons)
Grana Padano or Reggiano, shaved into big pieces
Creamy dressing of your choice, I used a fig and red wine vinegar dressing
On a large serving platter arrange (in order) the butter lettuce, pickled shallots, peach slices, avocado, and duck breast. Drizzle with creamy dressing and top with a generous amount of shaved cheese. Allow guests to marvel and then help themselves.
Leave it me to like the depressing songs by The Cars. Sure, Just What I Needed is great! But this song is just so over the top sad, a perfect soundtrack addition to any sad part of any sad movie ever. Maybe it’s because I heard it most aptly used in The Squid and the Whale, providing the literal sense of sadness so needed in a movie about divorce. Or maybe, most importantly, it’s the best song to listen to while performing a little zen vegetable chopping.
The Cars – Drive