Saturday, August 9, 2008

Soggy Salad

Well, despite my big plans yesterday morning, I didn't make Chinese food for dinner last night. I met a friend for lunch and she had a hankering for some lo mien. So, after fried noodles with chicken for lunch, I wasn't in the mood for more of the same flavors for dinner.

Last week on NPR's The Splendid Table, Lynne Rossetto Kasper talked about a salad that she made using stale bread. In it, you soak the bread in water. The idea is that the pre-moistened bread will then sop up your vinaigrette. I had heard about this use of stale bread before, and figure that it was high time I gave it a try for my self.

I didn't use the recipe posted on her Web site. This was probably a mistake. I thought it said that you soak the bread in 4 cups of water for 30 minutes. That seemed like too long to me. Instead I soaked the bread in water for five or so minutes, as suggested in a recipe for a similar salad on Epicurious. As it turns out, in the Ms. Kasper's recipe you actually only soak the bread in 1/2 cup water and some vinegar. In the bright light of morning, that sounds much better to me.

The problem I had was, once I drained the water, squeezed it out, I was still left with a gross-looking mess of wet bread cubes. Fighting the impulse to abandon the mission, and set about to make the rest of the salad.

I made a dressing by smashing two anchovy fillets into a paste. I then added some mustard, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, and olive oil. For the salad I cut up some tomatoes, cucumbers, and celery. So far, so good.

Then I added the soggy bread and that's where the salad lost me. It's true that the wet bread soaked up all of the flavor from the vinaigrette, which by the way was great. But, it still has the texture of, well, soggy bread. Not something that I enjoyed at all. I think I'll have to try this recipe again, but this time with the small amount of water suggested in the original recipe. Sometimes my improve works, but other times I should read carefully and follow instructions.

No comments: