Southern Summer Nights: Salad Course

There’s a super fun foodie giveaway at the end of this post. It was sponsored by some of our good local foodie friends, the folks at Microplane in Russellville and at Argenta Market in North Little Rock. I was not compensated and all opinions are always my own.

Welcome, y’all!

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Are you here for the party? You know, the #VirtualDinnerParty? Hopefully, you received your invitation and have already admired the lovely table settings prepared by Gina while nibbling on the black-eyed pea salad on endive from Debbie, who plans to stuff your belly full with additional appetizer options. And as for those Melon Mint Mojitos from Lyndi – well, that girl pours like I pour, and I saw her topping off your glass. So if you enjoyed the adult variety, you may be feeling a little giddy as you pull up a chair at my place!

In the tradition of any good “Southern Summer Nights” gathering, here I am running around my house {blog} tidying things up at the last minute. The old Food Adventuress is like a man sentenced to solitary confinement with nothing but the thoughts in his head to entertain him – she’s full of ideas but a bit bound by her surroundings. All that to say: the old girl has an appointment for a face lift, but I’ve never been one to put off a party because my house isn’t perfect. So, cue the obligatory Southern playwright:

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Now, come on in and stay a while! Oh, and cue the twangy but comforting sound of Willie singing in the background, too – it’s our music pairing for the evening:

Willie Nelson - Stay All Night ( a Little Longer)

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Can’t go home if you’re going by the mill
Cause the bridge’ washed out at the bottom of the hill
Big Creek’s up, Little Creek’s level,
Plow my corn with a double shovel

Stay all night, stay a little longer
Dance all night, dance a little longer
Pull off your coat, throw it in the corner
Don’t see why you can’t stay a little longer.

Ok, ok: I’ll get to the point. I know that appetizer has your tummy rumbling and you’re ready for more food. Stick with me for just a minute, though. Here’s what I think is incredibly nifty in the world of food right now: chefs, foodies and home cooks alike are elevating the mundane and showcasing the simple. I love that.

The places serving elegantly flambéed strawberries with Bavarian cream and essence of lavender and truffle oil are few and far between. Instead, what’s being served up in restaurants and kitchens all over the world is the local specialty, the backyard produce, the farm stand produce. And we are all clamoring for more. Isn’t that cool? I’ll take that trend any day – and we’re going to run with it for the next course.

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Our Simple Southern Salad has three ingredients, and the homemade vinaigrette has four. We’re going to highlight seasonal goodness and simplicity. It’s so tempting to drown a salad in all sorts of goodies and accoutrements, but we are going to resist the temptation by focusing on the delight and elevating the mundane to world-class with each ingredient. You should be able to find just about everything you need between your pantry and any tiny local farmers’ market or farm stand – or even at the grocery store.

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Simple Southern Salad
One bunch of fresh red leaf lettuce (or your preferred local greens)
Local peaches (mine were grown by Vanzant Fruit Farms in Lowell and are also carried at the store)
Pecan halves (if you’re lucky, from your neighbor’s tree via your grandmother’s freezer!)

This is tough, so try to stick with me on the convoluted steps: Wash the lettuce. Place it in a bowl. Slice the peaches and enjoy the juicy goodness running down your fingers and making the knife hard to handle. Sing along with Willie. Steal a few bites. Oh, you should have been lightly roasting the pecans in the oven (maybe five minutes – until aromatic) during all this fanfare. Your salad is ready.

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Homemade Mason Jar Vinaigrette
Olive oil
Red wine vinaigrette (mine is from Mount Bethel Winery in Altus)
Garden herbs: I used oregano, chives and green onions – all going strong from torrential August rain!
Freshly ground black pepper and sea salt

Again, pay close attention: place ingredients in jar (about 2/3 oil to 1/3 vinegar, but whatever you prefer). Shake well. {This is where my Dad would add the joke about his father reading “shake well” labels and commencing a mad personal shaking. You’ll want inside family jokes for your dinner party.}

If this seems overly simple, try bringing this salad to your next gathering or serving it at your own Southern Summer Nights dinner party. It is truly amazing how impressed people are with homemade vinaigrette in a mason jar. It says that you took the time to prepare something special. It says “Welcome to my home. I do things a little differently – a little slower and more intentionally – here. Please stay a while!”

And for future reference, please shake it up a little yourself: the contents of your pantry have unlimited potential for homemade dressings. I sometimes add some Dijon mustard, a little chili oil for kick, sesame oil for a nice nuttiness… the possibilities are endless. Here are a few options (and no, they aren’t pretty – they’re from my pantry and I use them!)

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Now, finish your vegetables so you can head over to Christie’s place tomorrow for a decadent interpretation of the cheese course. And, don’t forget to visit the other gals’ posts above: they’ve done a fantastic job of setting the scene for this shindig, which was a lovely idea from the adorable Julie at Eggs and Herbs.

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Oh, wait! Don’t leave yet! There’s a giveaway! You could win a fantastic package from Microplane in Russellville and at Argenta Market in North Little Rock – local foodie goodness at its finest. The prize is worth $160, and you can enter until August 25. Good luck!

Enter here!

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5 comments

  1. You know, of course, that I love, love this! You can shake it up at my house any time!

  2. I’ll have some, please.

    Miss you.

  3. […] sure to stop by The Food Adventuress to get the recipe for her Simple Southern Salad and to enter to win the $160 prize pack from Microplane and Argenta […]

  4. […] with some appetizers while you prepare to feast on this amazing main course served with a fresh summer salad and a tasty cheese souflee. Find your place at our table and relax. I don’t want you to miss […]

  5. […] Seeking Gina – Décor Dining With Debbie – Appetizers nwaFoodie – Refreshments The Food Adventuress – Salad Course Fancy Pants Foodie – Cheese […]

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