WritersButt Wednesday: Suffering Salads Batman!
Are your salads suffering unnecessarily at your hands? Are you condemning them to a life of humdrum mediocrity?
Just stop. Put your hands up. And back away from the iceberg.
Now listen to me. Salads do not have to be a boring torturous part of whatever ‘diet’ to which you are currently subjecting yourself. In fact salads are a fabulous opportunity to get creative and add in so many components of healthy eating on one plate.
I eat salads all the time. I’m a bit of an expert at this point and it’s the single most often requested thing I’m asked to bring to potluck parties. And I can tell you my salads aren’t made with iceberg lettuce, cherry tomatoes and a waxy cucumber, smothered in some crap dressing from a jar.
Do me a favor. If you are using dressing from a jar and it’s non-fat or low-fat, DO NOT TELL ME. You will kill a part of my soul.
As I was saying, creating a healthy, fresh salad is like staring at a blank canvas with a rainbow of paints to play with – and you don’t even have to be an artist! Last week, I posted a picture of my dinner salad on Facebook and was inundated with requests for the recipe. I’m a little embarrassed because it’s not really a recipe. Because I promised, I’m going to tell you what this particular salad consisted of, but then I’m going to give you all the ingredients, like those rainbow paints, and you can mix and match to make your own masterpiece.
Fresh Romaine lettuce – Fresh Figs – Honeycrisp Apple – toasted walnuts (toasted them myself) – small sprinkling of blue cheese crumbles. Dressing: Olive Oil, white wine vinegar, cracked fresh pepper. That truly is all it was. It tasted DIVINE!
Lettuce tips: I always have some form of fresh greens on hand. I will buy romaine hearts in 3 or 6 packs. TIP: When you go to make your first salad with your romaine, wash ALL the lettuce. Use what you want that night and then roll the remaining lettuce in a clean kitchen towel (or in paper towels), spreading out the leaves so excess moisture will seep into the towel. Store in a plastic bag in your fridge. It will stay fresh all week, at least! I will also use those pre-washed containers of greens like spring mix, field greens, spinach, etc. I do find I have to use them faster before they start to spoil. TIP: If you use those and they are particularly wet inside the container, roll a few paper towels around the greens to soak up extra moisture.
The Fixin’s: This is where you really get to have some fun and please don’t limit yourself to tomatoes and cucumbers. Not that there is anything wrong with them but there is so much more out there. Mix it up – Pun Alert! Remember, not all of the ingredients have to be cold and raw. I often add in sautéed or grilled asparagus or thin green beans, or even roasted beets! They add a warm layer of something awesome, trust me.
Savory Stuff: If you’re making more of a savory salad, you can add in your tomatoes and cucumbers, but also peppers – yellow, red and orange are fab for the color, snap peas, jicama, broccoli, cauliflower … anything!
Sweet Stuff: Very often I make salads that have a sweeter side which comes from adding fruit, like berries (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries), mango, pineapple, or apples. In the salad I showed up above, I used fresh black mission figs.
The fruit itself is beautiful in addition to tasting delicious.
Yummy FATS: Y’all know how important it is to incorporate healthy fats into your diet. Don’t deprive yourself of them. I always dress my salads in olive oil. I love the flavor. I add in fresh avocadoes most of the time too as well as nuts. While I don’t eat cheese very often, sometimes I will indulge and when I do, it’s usually in the form of goat, feta, blue or Gorgonzola and it’s very, very little. Just enough crumbles to add that little zing!
Protein: Usually a salad is eaten as a side with some sort of protein, like a steak or grilled chicken. I’m known for making a one-bowl-meal, especially if I’m pulling together a quick lunch for myself, so I incorporate the protein into my salad. I’ve used deli meats, eggs – hard boiled, scrambled or fried, dinner leftovers like chicken, sausage, steak, turkey. This way I’m getting my protein, fats and all those fabulous carbs in the form of greens, veggies and fruits. Complete meal!
Now it’s up to you. Mix and Match, experiment, taste, toss and ENJOY!!
Tell me what’s the most unique ingredient you can think of to have in a salad. If I haven’t used it before, and I can get my hands on it, I’ll make a salad with your ingredient and post the finished result and recipe here on my blog.