this is the story of a simple salad.

No endless chopping of vegetables.  No dressing.  Hell, you don't even need to bust out the whisk!  Because salad is awesome, and anybody who tells you different is a dirty liar who doesn't have a great simple salad recipe in their repertoire (promptly point them toward this one, please).

 now that's a sexy salad.

now that's a sexy salad.

Truth is, all you really need is a few great ingredients. In this case, I used some absolutely gorgeous, peppery mizuna from Oxford Gardens, a nearby farm run by geeky soil scientists who grow some of the most delicious vegetables I've ever put in my face. I also used my favorite local chèvre, made by my favorite local goat farmer slash cheese maker, Andrea, of Broken Shovels Farm. The other key ingredient is preserved lemons. These are not always easy to find (although if you happen to live in Denver you can get them at Marczyk Fine Foods) but they are, in fact, incredibly easy to make.  And boy, are they worth it with their bright, salty, lemony, almost otherworldly flavor that adds unbelievable depth to tons of different dishes. Lastly, some really good olive oil.  I always have the cheap stuff on the counter by the stove, to use for just about a million different things, but I keep the good stuff in the pantry and reserve it for pouring on a plate and dipping with bread, finishing soups and such, or for drizzling over sexy salads like this one.

These are all ingredients that are readily available to me, but you can use this recipe as inspiration to create something great that's easy for you, too. Another delicious combination would be arugula, roquefort, and salt-cured olives. Or maybe spinach, pecans and dried cherries.  Can you see the formula?  Greens + fat + concentrated flavor. All you need are three delicious things, a drizzle of good oil, salt and pepper if you like (although with this recipe, the preserved lemons already add the salt for you.  Score!) and you're riding the salad train all the way to Pleasuretown. Top it with a fried egg and you're officially my new best friend.

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The best thing about a simple salad is that when you keep the right assortment of fresh vegetables, good quality fats, and flavorful pantry staples on hand, then you'll have the ability to throw one together in under five.  For reals. You can save the fancy crispy-fried shallots and julienned peppers and carrots for another day.  All of those things are delicious but they take time and effort that we cooks just don't always have.  And what's the really great news?  If you find some simple combinations that you really love, you can throw a salad together so fast you might just be tempted to... wait for it... eat more salad! So grab a big bowl and let's get started...

mizuna, chèvre and preserved lemon salad. 

4 oz mizuna, washed well and dried
2 T preserved lemon (about 1/4 lemon), finely chopped
2-3 T chèvre, kept cold until ready to use
Drizzle of olive oil (about 2 teaspoons)

In a large salad bowl, toss mizuna and preserved lemon together until combined, and the greens get a nice coating of salty, lemony goodness.  Crumble all but a couple of teaspoons of the chèvre over the salad and drizzle with a little olive oil.  Lightly toss and garnish with remaining chèvre.  Serve immediately.

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