They should put a warning on some of the Food Network programs: "Do not attempt this at home." My favorite chef du jour - Anne Burrell - is good at encouraging folks who aim big and sometimes arrive low, like myself. But other chefs, other programs...not so much.
One day a couple of years ago I saw Giada on her show making a really great looking salad: I could almost taste it from my own kitchen. It was a chopped salad, but what really got me inspired - so inspired that I actually attempted it a couple of days later - was her grilling taut, crispy hearts of romaine (my favorite lettuce these days for salad, when shredded, unless in France, where frisee and butter lettuces are the winners). And after the romaine hearts had nice grill marks on them, smoking hot on the grill, she took them off and drizzled them with balsamic vinegar and shredded them, by slicing thinly. Mmmm. That sounded, and looked, really good. (But, then, everything photographs just obscenely well in that pristine kitchen of hers.)
I tried it at home.
It was disgusting. The lettuce just sat there all limp and floppy on the plate.
Recently, I made another really awful meal. This one also involved a green vegetable: zucchini. I was trying to use up the huge amount of zucchini that my mom had purchased for me at Central Market, at my request, for my genuine intent to make my all-time favorite holiday baked gift: Martha Stewart's recipe for zucchini walnut bread (I make mini ones), for which I had even already bought the walnut oil to go with the pounds and pounds of walnuts I had all ready for this event as well. The walnut oil is key to that recipe. No way to skip it.
Never made them. It was not to be, not this crazy work-stress-filled pre-Noel holiday season. And then my usual go-to dish for using up zucchini -- sauteed onions, garlic, and zucchini, topped with some (reduced fat) feta cheese - was, for some reason the other night, very disgusting.
Just hours after the bad zucchini meal, I catch Giada making a salad with grilled zucchini. Huh, I say to myself: Now that's what I should do with the rest of that zucchini. I keep watching and then it happened. Giada grilled some romaine. It was that same recipe from a couple of years ago that inspired me to make the worst thing I ever made.
Here's the recipe, which is, in fact, quite lovely: California-style Chopped Salad with Shrimp. I propose re-naming it "Chopped Grilled Vegetable Salad with Lemon Pepper Marinated Shrimp" - a tad less generic. Give it a try, but don't say I didn't warn you...