taste An Early Summer Salad
salads provide a chance to forage through farmers’ markets, your garden, the pots of flowers and herbs on your window sill, the grassy banks of a creek during your Sunday stroll, and to fill your basket and your plate—what grows together in the field will go together in a salad. We’ve served many a composed salad at our farm dinners; they are a fresh, crisp and colorful way to begin a dinner. From the farm, we might get baby carrots, which we peel and keep whole if very little, or slice lengthwise, almost translucently thin, using a mandolin. Carrot thinnings from the garden can end up in this salad, complete with frilly greens still attached. Radishes, cut into thin rounds, add crescents of color and a nice bite. Bright white baby turnips are wonderful here—to mix it up, we might cut these into thicker slices, and then into matchsticks. The tips of pea shoots with their curling vines add whimsy, and if you can spare a few pea flowers, you’ll have yourself a very beautiful first course. This salad should be dressed very lightly, with a mild olive oil, a squeeze of lemon, and only a tiny bit of salt. For creaminess, you can add a few morsels of the most delicate chèvre you can find, or a swipe of creamy mustard vinaigrette. Once the salad is arranged on individual plates or a large serving platter,
Meadow Lark works with a small number of carefully chosen Boulder-area farms, developing close relationships with local producers. Menus are based on what’s available on the particular farm that day, and they can change up until the last minute. Meals are several courses, yet they are simple, and recipes are uncomplicated. “Our goal is to honor the ingredients and reveal what they have to offer,” Veronica says. “We’re constantly playing with the menu.” Any meat, cheese, fruit or vegetable not produced by that evening’s farmstead is sourced from trusted local food artisans. All of the advance work is done on the bus, which is equipped with a refrigerator, stainless steel work tables, sinks, a water hook-up and custom-built storage racks to safely transport the team’s old-fashioned china and stemware. “I scoured every antique shop from Denver to Fort Collins,” Veronica recalls. Once the bus is parked in the field, the cooks and crew (who come from all over the country for the experience of working with Meadow Lark) set up a wood-burning grill and get started. White tents are set up and one long table is assembled to seat 42 for dinner. When guests arrive, they are welcomed by their farmer-hosts and offered a local craft brew and a tour of the farm before sitting down to enjoy the meal. “It’s an extremely rewarding way to go about eating,” Veronica observes. “We get to know the people who are behind the food that we put on our plates. There’s more exchange, more dialogue, more deliciousness.” Here, Veronica shares some Meadow Lark recipes: 154
Crostini with Egg Salad
Egg salad can be fresh, light and savory—and a vibrant marigold-yellow—but more often than not, it gets suffocated in too much mayonnaise. The key is to use excellent eggs and to boil them till the yolks just set—somewhere between seven and eight minutes. This way, the yolks will remain creamy. Coarsely chopped, the eggs need nothing more than a dollop of Dijon mustard and a sprinkle of flaky sea salt to come together. This is the departure point for any number of culinary directions: the addition of fresh herbs, young shallots or ground spices will make this egg salad fit right into the day’s menu. Fines herbes are very much at home here: parsley, chives, tarragon, chervil and even leaves of sorrel or celery, or frilly dill. These herbs can be added in combination, or one at a time. Give them a rough chop and mix them in among the eggs, saving a fistful to scatter on top before serving. Minced shallots that have marinated in some nice vinegar will give up their edge; drained and used in measured quantities, they will provide some welcome lift. Minced capers will do the same. Cumin or coriander seeds that have been barely toasted, and ground in a mortar, can be sprinkled over these egg salad crostini, giving them an altogether new identity. A red streak of smoky paprika takes us toward Spain; purplish sumac reminds us of Morocco. At Meadow Lark, we make our crostini—thin, toasted slices of bread—by cutting a baguette on a bias; we arrange the slices on a sheet tray, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, and toast them over our wood fire. A hot oven, or even a toaster oven, works just as well.
tuck the pea flowers or other flowers—borage blossoms, violets, tufts of baby-breath-like flowers of chervil—here and there, or shower chive blossoms— not the entire pom-poms but the individual, little flowers the balls are composed of—over the entire plate.
Grilled Flank Steak
At Meadow Lark, we get our flank steaks from Frank Silva, who raises Scottish Highland cattle. Instead of adding salt to the marinade, we salt the meat directly to ensure it gets just the right amount: an even shower on both sides.
Living with Art & Antiques