On a morning jog though Monterey, I worked not to slip on the wet cobble path beneath my feet. It had just rained, and was likely to start raining again soon, but for a moment the air hung still, albeit heavy with humidity. I was barely going fast enough to raise my respiratory rate (plus, at sea level the air is thick), but humidity made me sweat anyways. The sunrise was a blend of oranges and pinks and even purples, and I stopped to take pictures almost as much as I ran.
The humidity held down any usual street smells, and instead what I smelled was the California coast at it's purest. Eucalyptus, as I ducked through a grove of trees; Rosemary, as I jogged by California's first theater (it is hedged with rosemary bushes, each over two feet tall); Lavender, as I passed through the English garden alongside the boat house. And over it all, the unmistakable smell and sound of the ocean: salty and constant.
In my head, I am calling this salad the "California Salad," because when all of the ingredients come together they paint a mirage of the west coast.
As I drove down highway 1, I saw field after field of crops. It's hard to name them all: butterhead lettuce, artichokes, strawberries, and them I'm lost. These fields are a color of green that just isn't possible in the plains of Colorado, and that makes them almost hypnotizing. It's the color of fresh.
A walk under a citrus tree this time of year is a rewarding experience, as the branches are heavy with fruit. Grapefruit, oranges, lemon. Across the street, I noticed an avocado tree boasting a absurd number of fruits. They were small still, and I couldn't tell if that was just a characteristic of the variety or if they still had room to grow.
And there, near Cannery Row, was a storefront for an almond grower. They were stocked with piles of oils and butters and nuts. The smell of toasted nuts wafted from it's door, enough to override that salty ocean smell for a minute.
This salad is only a few of the scents and flavors you find on the west coast, but as I put it together I couldn't help but remember the ocean breeze, the rolling hills, and warm evenings.
Funnily enough, one of my last trips to the west coast also inspired a salad, which is completely different: Seared Wasabi Crusted Tuna Salad with Ginger & Almonds.
Serves: 4 | Total Time: 10 minutes
- 1 5-ounce package of baby arugula
- 1 grapefruit (large)
- 1 avocado
- 1/2 cup toasted slivered almond
- 1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Place arugula in a salad bowl.
- Cut the peel from the grapefruit, and then use a pairing knife to cut out each wedge of fruit, leaving the pith behind. Arrange fruit pieces over arugula.
- Slice avocado, and arrange over arugula. Sprinkle with almonds and sesame seeds.
- Make vinaigrette: place olive oil, rice vinegar, honey, and salt in a jar. Seal jar with a lid, and shake to combine ingreidents. Drizzle dressing over salad and toss!