We've had a lot of picnics at the Botanic Gardens this summer partly because it is so close and so fabulous but mainly because our yard is a horrible dirt pit and it has been hot hot hot. I need to either pack our picnic early in the day and assemble it there on a blanket in the grass or pick up a pile of snackables on the way. Wanting to use the lovely chard in our garden (and satiate my seemingly incurable need for pickled things in salads) I decided to layer a big salad in a jar. The dressing and pickled onions would go on the bottom to keep the greens from getting soggy. And either way the chard would hold up longer than some flimsy lettuce. I added in some crumbled blue cheese to play off the tangy vinaigrette and some toasted pecans to help balance the sweet and pungent flavors. Once there, we dumped it into a big bowl, tossed and served and everything was as it should be. We ate it as a side, but it would be a good meal on its own or topped with chicken or steak. —savorthis
4 large or 8 small servings
small red onion, thinly sliced
small jalapeño, thinly sliced (optional)
hearty greens (escarole, chard, kale) and arugula or similar
Simmer vinegar, sugar and salt in a small pot until sugar is dissolved. Add onion and jalapeño (if desired) for several minutes until onions are soft. Let sit a few minutes, then remove onions with a slotted spoon placing into the bottom of two medium containers.
Add dates to vinegar mixture and steep until softened. Pour dates and vinegar into a blender, add lemon and pepper and blend until smooth pouring walnut oil slowly to emulsify. Pour dressing on top of onions.
Pack greens on top of dressing layering in cheese and top off with nuts. Refrigerate until ready to pack.