The Greenest Salad Recipe
A shredded green salad bulked out with blanched broccoli, avocado, pistachios, a bit of feta, and tossed with a tarragon balsamic vinaigrette & pics from a special visit to Anokhi cafe and HQ in Jaipur.
Anytime I travel for an extended period of time, let's say longer than a couple of weeks, I end up craving certain foods from home. The craving creeps up on me like a fungus - not bad at first, but in the end, formidable. This trip it was avocado, then leafy salads, eventually dovetailing into broccoli. The greenest of the green stuff. I stocked up on the lot when I arrived home, and the salad parade started shortly thereafter (hence today's recipe). But let me back up a bit. If you want to avoid the host of digestive pitfalls India serves up, you're told to religiously avoid raw vegetables and greens. And for the most part I did, except for once. I ate one salad in the weeks I was in India. It was arugula, it was grown in Jaipur, and there is a story behind it.
Those of you who have been readers for some time know there are few things I love (or assign more importance to) than serendipity. It is the root of many good experiences and relationships that have intersected my life. And this is one of those examples. Wayne and I walked into the Anokhi Cafe, in Jaipur, to grab a bite to eat, and as we sat down Melissa Millward came over to our table to introduce herself. Anokhi is a much-loved textile company, with shops throughout India, doing all sorts of good work related to traditional textile printing, communities, and craftspeople. And Melissa, she's the lovely ex-pat who heads up all things related to the cafe. Most days she is gone by the time we arrived, but we lucked out. She recognized me from the site(!), and it was our good fortune that we got to chatting, because she was kind enough to invite us out to the Anokhi Farm the following day - an experience that turned out to be one of the highlights of our trip.
The property includes the company headquarters, an organic farm, a commercial kitchen (where much of the food is prepped for the cafe), and residences. This is a glimpse of an area set-up to test out new patterns and ideas - long tables lined with cotton, where fabric is hand-stamped. Each color gets its own pass (above / below). It's incredible. And as a side note, if you're interested in textiles and traditional printing techniques you can't miss the Anokhi Museum of Hand Printing.
I suspect Anokhi Cafe is the only restaurant in Jaipur (all of Rajasthan?) using ingredients that are both organic & in-season. They have multiple greenhouses to protect certain crops from the intense elements, and this is where they grow a range of beautiful lettuces, tomatoes, and basil for the cafe. The nets you see are embedded deep into each bed to protect the crop from insects, and the height of the beds is for ergonomics - also, to optimize the number of beds you can arrange in the space (you need less space if farmers are standing straight up rather than bending forward).
The greens are gently harvested, washed in purified water, and served at the cafe in a range of beautiful salads. If you're in Jaipur needing a salad fix - Anokhi is the place, Melissa is your girl.
This is Babulal. He's one of the cooks who helps Melissa each day. He babies the lettuce which makes him her go-to salad guy.
Thank you Melissa, Pritham, and Rachel, for the wonderful impromptu lunch and visit. I hope to return the favor if you find yourself in San Francisco.
Today's recipe? This was the first salad I threw together upon arriving home - with good lettuce, avocado, AND broccoli. I shredded some baby romaine, blanched the broccoli, added some pistachios for crunch and tossed it all with a tarragon-balsamic vinaigrette, avocado, and some feta.
The Greenest Salad
1 medium head / 6 oz romaine or baby romaine lettuce
1 medium head of broccoli / 8 oz / TK g or equivalent broccolini, florets and stalks cut into small bite-sized pieces
1 small avocado, sliced
1/3 cup toasted pistachios
a bit of crumbled feta
big splash of balsamic tarragon vinaigrette*
Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil, salt as you would pasta water, add the broccoli and simmer for just a minute or so until the broccoli is bright and just tender. Drain, run under cold water to stop cooking, pat dry with a clean cloth, and set aside.
Trim the base off the head of romaine, then slice it crosswise into 1/2-inch strips of lettuce. Wash well and dry gently but completely. Set aside someplace cold until ready to use.
Just before serving, in a large bowl, combine the broccoli, lettuce, and pistachios with a generous slug of vinaigrette. Toss well, add the avocado, and gently toss once or twice more, Serve topped with the feta, and a pinch of salt if needed. You can use any remaining vinaigrette drizzle over all sorts of vegetables, frittatas, bread, savory tarts, and the like.
*Balsamic tarragon vinaigrette: In a blender or food processor, combine 1 small peeled shallot, 1/4 cup tarragon, 1/3 cup flat-leaf parsley, 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard, scant 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt, and 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Pulse until smooth, taste, and adjust with more lemon juice, salt, (or a kiss of something sweet), if needed. Makes about one cup of dressing.
Prep time: 10 minutes
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I love broccoli as much as my Anokhi caftans! Needless to say I loved your story and wonderful photos. I was unaware of the cafe, now it is on my list! Thank you!
all of my favorites in one salad - yum! sounds like the perfect welcome home meal. beautiful photos!
the infinite range of salad possibilities never ceases to amaze me -- and this is no exception. i must make 100 different salads each year, every year, but the excellent, interesting combinations just keep coming. broccoli, avocado, pistachio, feta: yes. i can taste it already. and soon shall. separately, thanks so much for sharing this story, heidi, and most especially, the photos. i inherited a gorgeous set of textile wood blocks from my mom, and have always wondered exactly how they were used. to see the precision and concentration with which the man in the photos is lining up those stripes--stripes! by hand! imagine!!--is remarkable, and gives me a whole new appreciation for the craft. best, molly
This is why I love green salad. Yes, I really do love green salads! They're perfectly versatile - you start with the nearest, freshest greens and add anything you have and like on top.
Anytime I travel, I am divided between the will to experience and taste the local fare, the special dishes, anything that would make me learn more about that culture; and my craving for big salads and freshness. As the local dishes, the very traditional ones, are rarely light. Perhaps healthy, but in a heavily nourishing way --not sure it that's true everywhere, but this is been my experience so far. So well, I tell myself that I have to try as much as I can, except that I come home bloated and craving leafy greens, juices and raw food for weeks. This salad is extremely close to one I made just back from Salone del Gusto in Italy, where I ate so much cheese and bread with oil and cannoli and and and...It was made with rocket, avocado, sprouted mung beans, pepitas, cilantro, and something else that I don't remember as it was green in a sea of green stuff. Hit the spot.
So much green, so much goodness. What a great find the cafe and the farm is - so nice to be able to feel like you can safely eat a salad!
It also happens to me when I travel abroad. I would die for a salad and this look beautiful. very good post! Marta
Exactly what I have been craving after the last few weeks on the road. Hubbie came home from our garden in Umbria with about 8 pounds of lettuce, so I'm all set.
Hi Heidi, your trip sounds incredible - I loved the story about the street photographer last week and this week I am fascinated by the people printing the fabric by hand.........such precision with the lines - absolutely beautiful.
Looks good I will try this for sure, but we do not get avacado in northern part off Inda. What can use in place of avacado ?
Oh yes, green salad is all I ever craved when travelling through Asia and India. I held out for months in India only to cave once we got to Thailand... and oh boy did I pay the price for the weeks following! Anokhi cafe sounds amazing and if I ever make it back to India will be on my list of must-do's for sure xx
amazing textile making :)
You have me craving green. Tomorrow, for sure.
If your salad craving hits in Jaipur--you MUST try Anoki. Organic baby greens in India! Will be there in a few days. You guys have amazing stamina, hunting down that photographer. I go to Jaipur every year, but I find the traffic so daunting, I usually only go to the old city on Sunday.
I recently spent a month in India on a work trip (11? cities--I can no longer count them all). Fruit and a sprouts bar were always available in the morning at the hotel but all lunches and many dinners were spent on the road. By day ten, my vegetable cravings were severe; by the time we neared the end of our travels, our tour managers were regularly talking me off the vegetable ledge. "You don't understand," I'd say. "I'm from California!" I managed one serving of cucumbers at a boarding school with its own organic garden and a spinach salad at a hotel that was serving it with the Sunday brunch offerings. Sadly, I missed the Anokhu in Jaipur and we only stopped for the briefest moments at the one in Bangalore--the cafe certainly looked good. Next time I shall slip past my sentries and track this salad down. At least I got some great pajamas. :)
I know that craving well! My love of travel outweighs my love of salads in the end, I guess, but it sure must have been nice to find a salad you felt good eating on your trip. And this one looks like it was a perfect welcome home.
Really gorgeous photos, and so interesting to hear about that greenhouse operation! Now you've got me craving a green salad at 8:30 on a Saturday night. Yours looks delicious.
Beautiful photos! I know the feeling of home food cravings. I get that for homemade smoothies and breakfasts.
Traveling, and the lack of familiar foods, and on top of that, many times having to avoid raw produce, always leaves me with the biggest cravings for things like kale and broccoli and Brussels's sprouts when I get home! Glad you got your greens going again!
Fascinating! And the green salad sounds perfect, I just made one myself (with green beans and spinach)!
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