Find yourself in a salad rut this holiday season, where you’re noshing the same ol’ citrus-, persimmon- or apple-topped one over and over again?
Ecopia Farms wants to help break that ho-hum cycle.
The innovative Campbell organic farm, founded by a former CEO of Solectron and a former president of Lockheed Martin Missiles & Space, grows gourmet micro-lettuces indoors under LED lights that now grace the plates of some of the Bay Area’s best restaurants. Now, it’s just introduced two salad kits for consumers.
Each kit comes complete with the farm’s artisan lettuce mix and micro-herbs. The “Holiday Salad” includes Point Reyes blue cheese, candied walnuts, brandied pears, a spiced apple cider vinaigrette, and Maldon salt. The “Winter Salad” includes pickled butternut squash, quinoa with currants, candied pumpkin seeds, Maldon salt and a tangy lemon vinaigrette.
The components come in recyclable/re-usable little canvas, drawstring bags, heavy-duty paper boxes, and glass cruets and mason jars.
It’s everything you need to make a gourmet salad in a flash. It’s almost like a curated salad because the components have been chosen with care to work together harmoniously. But then again, the salads were designed by Chef Stephen Beaumier, former chef de cuisine at Quince restaurant in San Francisco, who is now the in-house chef for Ecopia.
The “Holiday Salad” tastes beautifully of fall, with its snuggly apple, pear and walnut flavors. The only minor quibble I had was that the cruet of vinaigrette still contained some bits of sharp cinnamon stick, whole allspice and whole cloves. Although they’re easy enough to pick out, they might pose an issue if you’re serving the salad to children.
The “Winter Salad” is a little more unusual with its crunchy, perky, pickled squash planks, and garnish of quinoa and currants. The candied pumpkin seeds were so addicting, you might find yourself sneaking a few straight out of the bag.
The real star of the salads is the lettuce and herbs, themselves. Just on their own, they have such pronounced flavor that you’ll probably find yourself needing to use far less dressing than you normally would. Each bite is a little different because of the mix of greens. My taste buds really came alive when I bit into an itty-bitty leaf of mint that was like an explosion of tingly freshness.
Of course, these salads are not inexpensive, relatively speaking. Each kit is $34.99 and comes complete with enough ingredients to serve 6 to 8. Or you can get a small kit that serves 4 and comes in a pretty hand-made basket for $39.99. When you factor it out, though, the salad kit comes out to be less than $6 per serving, which is less than what you’d pay for a first-course salad at a nice restaurant. And the salad kit is equal in quality to what you’d find at such a restaurant.
The delivery/shipping fee is waived when you order your first salad kit. Or arrange to pick one up by going to Ecopia Farms in Campbell, Bluxome Street Winery in San Francisco or Olive This Olive That in San Francisco, and receive 20 percent off your first order. All salad kits must be ordered in advance by calling (408) 680-2505 or emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Winners of Last Week’s Contest
In last week’s Food Gal contest, I asked you to tell me about a food or ingredient that you swore you hated, but then changed your mind about. Two winners will each receive four “free entree” coupons for Veggie Grill.
1) Janette, who wrote, “Ginseng is the quintessential ‘grown up’ taste for Chinese-Americans. My parents would tell me I would understand its expensive, delicious, and sweet taste when I was older. I hated it in soup and thought it was bitter. Now, I can taste the golden sweetness at the end when I sip ginseng soup.”
2) Judith, who wrote, “I’d have to say oysters. I was fearful for so long of those gooey orbs. Then I got bold and tried soup with one perfectly poached oyster and it was the best thing ever. The texture was so interesting! I approached raw – granted, they were at Bouchon so super top quality – and that chestnut is true “they taste of the sea”. Then of course a N’awlin’s po’ boy….bring them on!”