Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Endless Salad (and no breadsticks)

i'm in the middle of working on the flavors of a bunch of different recipes (chile, corn muffins, soda bread, omelettes, black bean salad, shrimp w/ cream sauce) and i don't have one ready to post yet. i normally need to make tweaks to a recipe at least 3 times before i'm happy enough to post it. and if i'm making radical changes, then it takes even longer.

but i make a greens salad just about every day and i've found a few favorite combinations. nobody needs a recipe for making a salad so instead i'm posting suggested ingredients grouped by how i like to assemble salads. i get sick of eating the same salad over and over, so i'm always trying to change something - different veggies, different toppings, different greens, different vinaigrettes.


i also like to pack my salads with lots of raw, nutritious foods - i'm not a rabbit and if i'm going to chow down on a bowl of greens, there better be other "toppings" to keep my palette and eyes interested. i try to include at least two veggies (besides the greens) and something a little with a little fat like cheese, nuts, egg, bacon or avocado. some days the very thought of ingesting a bowl of greens sounds almost nauseating, but the promise of that fat helps satiate my tummy without overwhelming me with the guilt i feel after eating half a bucket of KFC...

for me, a greens salad is never like what you get at olive garden (or most other chain restaurants). forget the bag mix, the bottled salad dressings, and smothering piles of grated parmesan and croutons. a lot of bag mixes are nothing more than iceberg lettuce tossed with a few shavings of carrot and cabbage with the occasional piece of romaine or green leaf lettuce thrown in for color - little flavor, few nutrients, and super boring. bottled salad dressing don't help because even the fat-free ones are packed with preservatives, sugars, and sometimes transfats. and parmesan cheese tastes great but it's loaded with fat and salt; croutons are typically highly processed and loaded with calories and preservatives.

i make salads from scratch: organic dark leafy greens (and always some spinach), fresh veggies, homemade vinaigrettes and homemade croutons (if i include them). i don't precisely measure anything so every salad is unique. typically i use either a mesculun mix or red leaf lettuce for the greens, but stick with any dark colored greens you enjoy.

here are some of my favorite combos that you can easily adjust to suit your taste. there are no measurements included, so use common sense (for example, don't add a whole red onion to a single salad).


Hearty Italian
Red leaf lettuce
Baby spinach
Handful of frisse greens
Carrot, slivered into bite-sized pieces
Black or green olives
Grape tomatoes, halved
Scallions, chopped
Yellow bell pepper, chopped
Broccoli flouerettes
Finely cubed mozzarella
Finely sliced or chopped pepperoni (enough to taste)
Tossed in white wine vinaigrette

Everyday Favorite
Mesculun mix greens
Baby spinach
Carrot, chopped
Radish, chopped
Grape tomatoes, halved
Scallion, chopped
Chopped toasted almonds
Tossed in apple cider vinaigrette

Cool Avocado w/ Bacon
Mesculun mix greens
Baby spinach
Red onion, finely chopped
Grape tomatoes, halved
Carrot, chopped
Hothouse cucumber, diced
Haas avocado, diced small and soaked in fresh lime juice
Crispy bacon, crumbled (enough to taste)
Tossed in lime vinaigrette

Rosemary Chicken
Red leaf lettuce
Baby spinach
Radicchio, sliced
Scallion, chopped
Carrot, chopped
Radish, chopped
Roasted or grilled asparagus, chopped into bite-size pieces
Chopped toasted almonds
Lemon, rosemary and thyme roasted chicken breast, diced into cubes
Tossed in orange zest vinaigrette

Cranberry Apple
Mesculun mix greens
Baby spinach
Honeycrisp, Pink lady or Fuji apple, chopped
Carrot, slivered
Beet, finely diced
Radish, minced
Red onion, minced
Chopped toasted almonds, walnuts, or pecans
Cheddar cheese, finely cubed or crumbled gorgonzola
Dried cranberries
Tossed in apple cider vinaigrette

Bleu Strawberries
Red leaf lettuce
Baby spinach
Carrot, slivered
Red onion, thinly sliced
Chopped toasted pecans
Strawberries, quartered
Crumbled bleu cheese
Tossed in balsamic vinaigrette

i haven't actually made the bleu strawberries salad, but it sounds so good it will be my next one to try.

but i think this is a good sampling of different ways to build a salad. i also like to add shrimp, homemade croutons, butternut squash, black beans, green beans, chick peas, cauliflower... you could turn any one of these salads into a meal - add a little more of the protein and you won't need to make anything else. with so many delicious salad choices, it's hard to understand why anyone would eat endless bagged salad even if it is accompanied by breadsticks...



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