Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Dean, Edna and a Recipe for Caprese Salad

It's been over twenty five years since I drove out to Middleton Plantation near Charleston, S.C. on a fog drenched, Spanish moss draped narrow highway.  I was on my way to meet the great chef and cookbook author, Edna Lewis.  It was 5 a.m.!  

As we talked about an upcoming photo shoot for Connoisseur Magazine (my one and only stint as a food stylist with no prior experience), we sipped coffee and ate Edna's freshly baked biscuits slathered with butter and strawberry jam.  As the tendrils of fog lifted and swirled toward the rising sun, Edna spoke to me of how food and it's taste had changed with the advent of creating plants for large and "shippable" products.  She lamented the fact that people my age and younger would never experience, among other things, the taste of real tomatoes--heirloom varieties--and tender leafy lettuces in a salad. 

We've now spent many summers enjoying heirloom tomatoes grown on small farms.  This summer, those tomatoes were joined by two new salad mix selections from Fresh Express and their salad artisan, Dean Fahselt.  Dean travels the world to find the perfect seeds.  Then, he and his team seek out the best ways to grow those seeds thus giving us artisanal blends grown from small crops that capture the flavor of the seasons.  

I wish Edna and Dean could have met.

Caprese Salad for Four

1 bag Fresh Express Artisanal Salad Wild Rocket Zest
A mixture of heirloom tomatoes (alas, no mixture here as the season is over)
Fresh mozzarella in 1/2 inch dice


1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp lemon zest
3/4 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 garlic clove, crushed

Whisk all ingredients together before adding the garlic clove.  

Don't forget to check out your favorite grocery stores for Fresh Express Artisanal Salad demonstrations this coming weekend, October 16 and 17.  Bring some home and try your favorite recipe.  I'll be back to explain a recipe contest for you in a few days.


  1. I meant to tell you that we do have a Costco about 45 minutes from here. I am not a member, but it may be worth me checking it out if they have things like fresh mozzerella! Thanks for the tip.

  2. What a beautiful caprese salad-what a lifetime opportunity to sit down with Edna Lewis and eat biscuits slathered in butter with jam. That was priceless.

  3. Bonnie, how fortunate you were to meet Edna Lewis! She would be happy to know that "real" food is making a comeback...somewhat. You've mentioned Fresh Express in a previous post, yes? It's a great product.


  4. I do hope our market stocks these brands -- I would love to buy rocket which is unavailable here.

  5. There is definietly a resurgence back to farm fresh and local produce. We can happily say we really have tasted a garden fresh tomato purchased at our local grocers or farm stands.

  6. Hi Bonnie, Gee---wouldn't it have been fabulous if Dean and Edna had have met????? WOW!!!!!!

    We haven't been to Middleton Plantation --but we went to another plantation near Charleston, named Boone Hall... We went on a stormy day ---but still enjoyed it--and would love to go back!!!!

    Great looking salad...

  7. I am reading more & more about people growing heirloom veggies & roses. Let's hope this trend grows & grows!
    After seeing your pic, I'm thinking salad for breakfast sounds pretty good! :)
    Have a wonderful day, Bonnie!
    ~ Zuzu

  8. This does sound good. I must try it soon!

  9. This looks really good! I like to make my own dressings.

  10. Looks so good. Now I want a salad for lunch. :)

  11. it has been many years since i visited Charleston, just reading your post made me flip back in time and see all those beauiful old homes. this salad and the eggplant would be wonderful served in one of the houses on the battery, maybe on the porch?

  12. What a lovely Caprese salad. How fabulous to have met Miss Edna. What a treat!

  13. Aren't Caprese salads simply the best? I'm so happy that we have more access to such delicious heirloom varieties of tomatoes and greens. And I'm so jealous of your biscuits with Edna moment...how amazing that must have been. Thank you for sharing with us!

  14. Isn't it wonderful that farmers' markets make it possible for us to know how real heirloom vegetables taste? Fresh Express is available in my market and I often buy it.

  15. What a treat to have had a chance to sit down and talk with Edna! I also celebrate the fact that fresh heirloom vegetables are more widely available now. Your salad is beautiful!

  16. Hello -
    I am a filmmaker in Atlanta. I was privileged to spend time with Edna Lewis in her last years after she had moved to Atlanta. During that time, I produced a 21 minute documentary about Miss Lewis. The film is called "Fried Chicken and Sweet Potato Pie".

    It is viewable in its entirety on Internet at a Gourmet Magazine website:


    and at this Library of Virginia website:


    My website, http://bbarash.com/film/chicken_sweetpotato

    has more information about the film and the story of Miss Lewis.

    Bailey Barash

  17. I've been to Middleton Plantation....what a lovely place to meet Edna. I'd have gone at any hour!

    Luckily, heirloom tomatoes are available at most markets, farmers and otherwise. I think the younger generation is going to be much more health and fresh food minded than my generation, so I guess I disagree with Edna on a few points. Still, how wonderful to meet and speak with her!

  18. Yummy!! Thanks again for popping by. I am LOVING having time with Little Man and his Momma. =) I'm ipmressed with the food stylist job!

  19. Capese salad is one of my favourite thngs in the world; a perfect lunch!
    Our tomato season is over and not easy to find nice tomatoes around here.

  20. Looks like the perfect salad to me :)


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