This dates from a time when herbs were scarce in the winter; when spring arrived, people would be desperate for any micronutrients they could find, especially in the far north, and they would crave the bitter taste of the year’s newest greens and weeds. If you know what you’re looking for, you can make delicious salads from a huge variety of greens. The traditional seven greens might include some of the following: chives, sorrel, wood sorrel, scorzonera or salsify leaves, mache, parsley, ground elder, samphire, wild arugula, chervil, the last of the kale, overwintered spinach, fava bean greens, or tiny dandelion greens collected while they still have strange violet-purple and red colors and resemble tiny octopus.–Camilla Plum
LC We Confess Note
We left something out of Camilla Plum‘s lovely recipe. Intentionally. Her original called for hard-cooked eggs and a creamy, roux-based, mustard sauce of sorts in addition to the vinaigrette. Forgive us, Camilla, but we found a sparer incarnation of this recipe, one that lets the inspired and eclectic taste of each of its seven greens shout out, to be a little more compelling—not to mention practical. Heck, this time of year, we’ve even dispensed with the vinaigrette, relying instead on the simplest dribble of oil to slick the greens. The salad is delicate enough to go with eggs sunnyside up and sturdy enough to withstand a side of steak. Still, for those who’d rather not forsake Scandinavian tradition, we tucked those extra ingredients aside, beneath the recipe. Far be it from us to dictate how you take your weeds.
Seven Greens Salad
- 4 cups mixed spring greens preferably from the greenmarket
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon honey
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Rinse the greens under cool running water very carefully. Let them dry on a clean dish towel.
- Whisk together the oil, vinegar, honey, salt, and pepper. Place the greens in a colander or a large serving bowl, dribble with the dressing, and gently toss.
The Original Way Variation:For those who can’t fathom a salad greens without a little more sustenance, this approach is for you. Put 4 eggs on to boil. Keep a close eye on them as you want them almost but not completely hard-cooked. Meanwhile, melt 4 tablespoons butter in a saucepan over medium heat, without letting it color. Mix in 2 tablespoons flour, stirring it constantly, and let it bubble for a minute to cook away the floury taste. Add 1 3/4 cups whole milk to the pan, a little at a time, taking care to incorporate it thoroughly before adding any more. Let the sauce simmer, stirring almost constantly, for about 10 minutes. You can add more milk if the sauce is very thick—it must be pourable. Drain the eggs, rinse under cool running water, peel and halve lengthwise. Remove the saucepan from the heat and add 4 tablespoons coarse-grain mustard, 2 tablespoons Dijon-style mustard, salt, and pepper. The sauce must not boil again after the mustards are added, or the taste will disappear. Let cool ever so slightly and then spoon just a little onto the greens. Top each serving with an egg.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
This is a perfect, simple salad with lots of options for the mix of greens. When selecting my greens, I went with a mix called “organic herb.” I selected it because, in addition to many types of greens, it included dill, a quintessentially Swedish herb. Because the recipe comes from a Scandinavian cookbook, this seemed appropriate.
My selected mix also included arugula and parsley from her suggested list. However, I think many mixes of greens would work, from a few — or even one or two — tender buttery lettuces, all the way to a more varied mix or a mix including spicy greens like arugula. Though it is exceedingly simple, it is lovely and an excellent guide for anyone to serve a simple salad alongside more complex foods, or as a part of a multi-salad luncheon or buffet. Because it is so simple, the quality and freshness of the greens are critical, as is the quality of dressing ingredients; this is not the place to try to utilize slightly wilted produce or less than top-notch oil. I tried it both with the simple vinaigrette and also with the suggested slicking of olive oil on the greens, and both worked well. I did not feel the salad required any more sustenance, nor did I feel it was lacking something without the heavier dressing or eggs. Based on this recipe, I would be interested in exploring other recipes from the same cookbook.
This is a very simple salad, showcasing the various greens I am growing in the garden this year (including baby beet and mustard leaves). For me this recipe is just a foundation on which to build other salads as I like to include cheese and toasted nuts for different textures. Next time I will make the more substantial version!
Originally published June 13, 2011