By Spencer Ackerman
Super Bowl food is uncomplicated. Fat. Salt. Protein. Carbohydrate. Fry, broil, grill, untwist-cap, straight-from-bag. Alcohol. But — a vegetable? Unslathered in cream or cheese? What the fuck is the matter with you?
As it turns out, not necessarily a whole lot. Ahead of a sedate, limited-edition Flophouse Super Bowl party, I figured I’d make some individual-sized meatloafs and handcut fries. There was the promise of Velveety queso and emblanketed pigs. But none of us, except for Ficke, are that young anymore, and our stomachs need some assistance. It occurred to me I should make a salad to lighten up an extremely heavy meal. What ensued was an accidentally awesome, flavorful creation. My mind was on other things when I walked into the market on 15th & U, and I found myself staring somewhat blankly at the produce section. Then I said to myself, fuck it — just throw together something simple and flavorful, with a big textural contrast to the meatloaf. Now, my meatloaf is less a loaf than a giant meatball, filled with bursts of blue cheese and sweet white onion. What could better lighten that up than an herb salad? Into the basket went a prewashed box of herb greens — laziness, you know? — and some flat-leaf parsley. I had some nice red onions at home for my sweetness and extra crunch. And I’ve been on a kick against tomatoes in salad lately. I saw some deep-black plums — out of season, sure, but intriguing — and before I second-guessed myself, I had my simple salad.
But before I left I picked up one more ingredient, along the same let’s-buy-plums-fuck-it principle: some minced ginger. This turned out to be an oddly wise decision.
Basically, you’ve got a muted sweetness in the plums. You’ve got a sharper sweetness in the onion. Mixed with a nice acid, the ginger can tie them together and really pop the herbs in the salad. I sliced my onion into long thin strips — its weird shape undermined my attempt at crescents — ran my knife through the parsley a bit, and diced four plums. Threw the whole thing into a big bowl with the herb mix.
The dressing: I took about a soup-spoonful of the ginger and dumped it in a Pyrex measuring cup. Doused the ginger in two parts’ apple cider vinegar to one part hazelnut oil until I reached 1/3 of a cup — more than that would seem to me to risk overdressing the salad, but do whatever you like — using some nice rock salt to season as you go. Give maybe a turn or two of your pepper mill into the cup, but be spare here. You should be going for the sourness to hit your mouth first, followed by the ginger. Whisk together and toss. Garnish with some sesame seeds.
You’ve now made a bright, intensely flavorful salad. And you’re about to wash it down with cheap beer and smear your plate with grease and fat. Lucky.