Monday, June 8, 2009

Meatless Monday - Giant Dinner Salad

One of my favorite summer meals is a big summer salad, made from fresh local produce. If I'm really lucky this summer, my later ones will include tomatoes from my own backyard garden.

Start with your favorite lettuce blend. I'm partial to a combo of iceberg & romaine, but you can add mesclun, dandelion, or whatever your local market and budget allow.

The fresh produce:

Whatever is in season that you like; tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, squash, carrots, thin-sliced red onion or scallion, celery, sliced fennel bulb, jicama, radishes, mushrooms.

The canned:

Chickpeas! Sliced black olives! Miniature corn! Water chestnuts!


I don't personally care for boiled eggs, but if you like them in salad, go for it! Shredded cheese can be good, too, croutons if you like 'em. Fresh herbs: basil, mint, parsley, cilantro - all are great flavor-boosters.

Delicious with garlic toast.

I prefer my dressings to be simple, and I often make them myself. For this salad, I think I'm going to try out this recipe. I'm also partial to a simple lemon juice/olive oil dressing, with a little salt & freshly ground pepper.

Enjoy, and please feel free to report back with any suggestions or improvements!


GregorTroll said...

Great idea! I think fearlessness and creativity is the key to good salad! Here's some salad concepts I have used to keep things interesting and break away from the standard "Lettuce, tomato, etc." salad:

* Minimalist: Use only 4 ingredients. Challenge: no lettuce OR tomato.

* Smorgasbord Salad: Use any 10 ingredients!

*Beans. Just beans. Maybe some red onion.

* Rhymes with Orange: use only orange-colored ingredients, plus a lettuce. yellow-orange is OK, too. (Orange bell peppers, canned mandarin orange (or fresh orange) wedges, carrots, those orange-colored cherry tomatoes, tangerine, nectarine...

* Lettuce bowl: no lettuce in the salad, whatever kind of salad you want, serve in a half-head of ice-berg, hollowed out (use the inner-lettuce as taco-toppings tomorrow)

GregorTroll said...

I spent a few months, years ago, where I was making a lot of salad. I had to get creative or go crazy.

Here's some more salad ingredients / flavorings. Some are only cheap if you already have them...

* pine nuts [1]
* poppy seed
* mandarin orange (from a can)
* orange wedges
* crisp apple chunks
* every kind and shape and preparation of nut: walnuts, peanuts, cashews, almonds, pecans; whole, sliced, pieced; roasted, salted, candied (do it yourself, it's easy)
* cooked whole-grain rice
* fake-bacon bits
* capers (I hate them, but you might like them)

[1] Pine nuts: Like many things, can be very pricey, if you buy the first bag/bottle you see in the store. Compare prices! In my store, pine nuts appear in 4 places in the store, in 4 different quantities, for 4 different prices. The price varies from 2 dollars an ounce, to 60 cents an ounce!

R. O'Quinn said...

Excellent tips, GregorTroll! Thanks for those terrific contributions!