Kangaroo salad is what results when a cook needs to make something out of nothing or wants to use up what is on hand — either the supper crowd is larger than planned or a key ingredient was left off the grocery list. Therefore, planning the meal includes poking around in the cupboard and peering into the depths of the refrigerator while inventing on the fly… substitute yogurt for sour cream, make breadcrumbs from the breakfast toast bones, mix it up with other ingredients found during the kitchen inventory, and give it a fancy name. Dinner.
Gardeners whose green thumbs favor vegetables regularly produce a kangaroo salad, except that the search for ingredients includes roaming the garden rows filling a bag or basket with what is ripe. If there are tomatoes that need to be used, they are gathered. If the peas won’t hold another day without getting too starchy to be at their best, then the menu includes fresh peas. Thinning a row of carrots fills a bag with tiny sweet carrots to use. If strawberries are ripe, they appear at both breakfast table and in lunch bags; a quart accompanies the commute (spit those crowns right out the window when no one is looking).
Presque Isle Farmers Market at Riverside customers are rarely marsupials, but fill their reusable bags as they hop from vendor to vendor gathering what is available on any given Saturday morning. All produce is locally grown and most was picked that very morning; choice and variety are givens. Can’t-fail kangaroo salads are more imagination than recipe books; cooks know fresh fruits and home-grown vegetables are the basis for awesome.
The recipe below comes from the National Honey Board (honey.com/recipes) and, quite understandably, features honey. But watch what happens to a kangaroo salad once the creative juices start flowing. Both Hidden Meadow and Chops Ahoy produce spinach, as well as mixes of chard, beet greens, kale and different lettuces. Chops Ahoy sells nitrate-free bacon, but both Hidden Meadow and the Doaks have lamb sausage one could substitute. Phil and Jackie offer fruit vinegars and local honey; Delphinium Blue Farm also “herds” honey bees. However, the sweet to balance the vinegar could be maple syrup from Salmon Brook Valley instead. Cherry tomatoes and red onions will be available a little later in the summer, but the Micmac Farm has green onions now, and radishes are ready. What else can you find to load in your pouch and take home to a hungry joey?
Spinach Salad with Honey Bacon Dressing
(Serves 4-6.) Cook 4 oz. of bacon until crisp; place on paper towels. Drain all but 2 tablespoons of bacon fat from the fry pan. Add 1/4 cup red wine vinegar and 3 tablespoons honey. Cook while stirring for 1 minute. Cool 2 minutes.
Pour over 6 oz. of fresh spinach. Toss with salt, pepper and crumbled bacon. Top with cherry tomatoes, red onions and sliced mushrooms. Serve immediately.
The Presque Isle Farmers’ Market president for the 2018 season is Deena Albert-Parks of Chops Ahoy Farm in Woodland. For information about participating or visiting the market, contact her at email@example.com.