Pako (young fern tendrils) with freshly made boquerones, quail eggs, tomatoes and a vinaigrette dressing. They seemed like a natural and interesting combination of ingredients and the salad worked like a charm. Definitely something I would do again. The crispness of the pako (blanch ferns for a few seconds in boiling water then immediately plunge them into an ice bath and drain) together with the salty/vinegary fish, the texture and taste of the eggs and the dressing made for a truly enjoyable salad.
I miss this type of free association, pairing and experimentation (I have been so busy lately) and really like having different ingredients on hand to “play” with. Sometimes the results are inedible, but many times I find surprising combinations that work well together. Inspiration comes from having wonderful produce or food items on hand, the time to leaf through cookbooks and magazines and the extreme hunger that comes with being on a low carbohydrate diet. :)
I was so happy with the pako salad, I reached into the fridge drawers for some romaine lettuce and made a sort of “deconstructed” caesar salad with romaine, fresh anchovies, prosciutto, fried quail eggs, a lemony vinaigrette and a generous sprinkling of grated parmesan cheese. Delicious! I love a traditional caesar salad, but this one had bursts of intense flavor combined with the super crisp romaine. Another keeper of a recipe!
I could also have fried the prosciutto to provide some crunch — a replacement for chopped bacon. What really made both of these salads memorable were their components — freshly made cured anchovies, the quail eggs, the fresh greens and a simple vinaigrette. Sometimes, basic simple ingredients come together into memorable concoctions.