IT’S ALL ABOUT SALADS AS THE SEASON BLOOMS
BY GINA Z. TERLINDEN
PHOTOGRAPHS BY NANCY NEIL
FARM FRESH, local, and organic is the only way Om Sweet Mama catering chef Ayda Robana rolls when she’s conceptualizing the menus of her lively dinner parties, pop-up restaurants, and other private events she’s known for. “This is important because of the bounty of produce that grows in the area. I love knowing where my food comes from and having a relationship with the farmers who grow it. I often bring my 3-year-old daughter, Lulu, with me to the farmers market so she, too, can have the same knowledge and appreciation of food,” says Robana, who, with sous-chef Melissa Bishop, envisioned celebrating the season when planning this private dinner at a Santa Barbara ranch house.
“I try to usher in the spring by cleansing; that is, I try to eat really clean foods—little meat and loads of raw fruits and vegetables,” Robana says about the cheerful, out-of-the-ordinary salads she prepared for the feast.A colorful cornucopia of veggies were put together in her mixed kale salad (purple and dino varieties were used) with watermelon radishes; orange, white, and purple heirloom carrots; and a tangy-sweet vinaigrette dressing. “When I think of composing a salad, I often think of color as well as texture. I truly feel that we eat with our eyes first, so I try to incorporate as much color as possible,” says the chef. “I also often include nuts and some kind of fruit and cheese.” A green palette prevailed in Robana’s farm salad with farro, fava beans, peas, wild arugula, parsley, chervil, and lemon vinaigrette. “I love cooked-grain salads made with leftover quinoa, farro, orzo, or brown rice from dinner the previous night,” she says. “I can incorporate them into a salad by adding fresh parsley or any other herbs I have on hand, kale, or Swiss chard, for a healthy and delicious lunch the following day.”
WHERE TO BUY
• Botanik 805-565-3831, botanikinc.com.
• Cambria Estate Winery 805-937-8091, cambriawine.com.
• FINERY finery.squarespace.com.
• Florabundance 800-201-3597, florabundance.com.
• Heather Taylor Home heathertaylorhome.com.
• Kelly Oshiro Floral Design sbchic.com.
• The Lower Lodge thelowerlodge.com.
• Make Smith 805-699-6296, makesmith.com.
• Santa Barbara Certified Farmers Market 805-962-5354, sbfarmersmarket.org.
[Spring 2013, Food + Wine]