My salad days

photo-179In my quest to eat better — including more veggies — I’ve been trying to incorporate lunch salads into the mix. I like the southwestern steak salad I occasionally throw together (with leftover steak, peppers, corn, and chipotle ranch dressing). Other ideas seem more boring. But then during my week alone I started visiting a salad shop that made some interesting concoctions. In theory, I could keep driving over there and buying stuff. The problem is that doing so takes time. I’d be thrilled to pay for lunch daily, but when you work from home, from a sheer efficiency perspective, it’s better to attempt to re-create these recipes.

Experiment number one was this kale “Caesar”-ish salad. I chopped up the kale finely, then added lemon juice to soften it up a bit. I added chopped cherry tomatoes, cukes, feta cheese, parmesan cheese (if I’m eating salad, I should get 2 cheeses, right?), some almonds, and leftover chicken. I topped it with Caesar dressing.

All in all, it was pretty tasty and filling and got about 2 cups of kale into me too. I’m now out of leftover chicken, though, so I welcome ideas on other proteins and concoctions to add to kale.

My afternoon snack will be another sort of salad: a sliced garden tomato, red onion, and bleu cheese dressing. If I wind up at my favorite sushi spot tonight, I’ll probably have an avocado and lettuce salad with ginger dressing (yum!) It’s a lot of food, but if it’s all salad, it’s good, right? What’s your favorite way to eat greens?

Bonus question: What does the phrase “salad days” actually mean?

20 thoughts on “My salad days

  1. I love to add beans to a salad (cannellini or garbanzos are my favorite). They add protein and fiber as well as deliciousness. An Asian style salad with chicken and peanuts is fabulous, as well.

    1. Garbanzos + pecans + dried cranberries + sunflower seeds are a great option for days when you don’t have any leftovers or other veggies, just greens.

  2. That’s one of my favorite quotes (and plays).

    “My salad days,
    When I was green in judgment, cold in blood,
    To say as I said then!” (Said Cleopatra in Antony and Cleopatra, in response to her attendant who notes that Cleopatra once lavishly praised Caeser)

    I assume it refers to a time when one was inexperienced and “green.”

    1. @June – yep! I knew it was about being green and young, but I thought (for a long time) that the reference was that you were young, and hence poor, and had to order salads, rather than entrees, in restaurants…

  3. I wonder if it might also refer to the way that salad is an early summer thing– once the weather gets hot, the lettuce bolts and turns bitter. Summer (or life) marches on; salad fades away. But the weather is so much cooler in England that a person could probably grow salad all summer long if she were so inclined, so perhaps that’s not how it was meant originally.

    1. @Christine – I love Trader Joe’s, so I’ll have to check these out! Especially since Trader Joe’s is right next to the salad spot that I’ve deemed too far to drive to on a daily basis…

  4. I’ve been eating this salad for years and have yet to tire of it. It’s a big bowl of spinach to which I add a chunked green apple or pear, finely-chopped walnuts, five pitted dates or so (cut up), with some olive oil and fresh lemon juice. Yum.

  5. It’s hard to mess up a salad. I love edamame salad with corn, finely chopped red onion, maybe cucumbers, and finely chopped red peppers, with a very light oil and vinegar dressing — you get protein from the edamame and a burst of freshness from the corn.

  6. We have been eating a lot of Greek salads since I discovered the Greek seasonings mix at Penzey’s Spices. Nicoise olives, good feta and cukes (especially good when they are from the garden), tossed with dressing made from the spice mix (instructions on the jar).

    In the summer, with garden tomatoes, we simply chunk those on any type of sturdy greens, add good balsamic and good olive oil, fresh basil, shredded parm or chunk mozzarella and add any other veggies we might have around. I have found that I eat more salads when I use higher quality, fresher (tasty!) ingredients.

  7. I would encourage you to try putting even more types of leftovers on salad. warmed rice or quinoa, and even atypical salad veggies/legumes (cauliflower, refried beans, lentils, anything really). I have a leftover slice of multi-meat-meatloaf that I might very well eat over spinach.

    if you like the leftovers, it’s very difficult to go wrong by putting them over extra greens. even leftover soup or stew can be ladled into a big bowl over greens. enjoy!

  8. My vegan roommate made delicious kale salads with mushrooms, avocado, tomatoes, cucumbers, walnuts, and nutritional yeast, dressed with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, salt and pepper.

    As Jamie mentioned above, the best time to eat salad is the beginning of summer when the lettuce at farm stands and farmers’ markets is so abundant and delicious I don’t even want to eat anything else.

    Boston (aka butter) lettuce is best eaten on its own with mustard vinaigrette (dijon mustard plus olive oil; you need to add the olive oil very slowly as you whisk them together so the mustard doesn’t separate).

    My favorite fancy salad I invented is arugula with pine nuts and crumbled blue cheese, dressed with blood-orange olive oil and either lemon juice or red wine vinegar and black pepper.

    My favorite full-meal salad is salade nicoise. It takes a fair amount of initial prep time to assemble all the components, but once you do, you’ll have enough to eat all week. What you need: tuna packed in olive oil, imported Greek anchovies (I used to hate anchovies until I had good ones), hard-boiled eggs (sliced or quartered), potatoes, scallions, string beans, tomato wedges (or cherry tomatoes), cucumber slices, green (or other colors) pepper rings, red or green leaf lettuce, good Greek olives, capers. To make French-style potato salad, boil some eastern potatoes (NOT baking potatoes), then dress them while still warm with olive oil, red wine vinegar, chopped scallions, and salt and pepper (then chill before serving). Use some of the tuna oil and/or anchovy oil and a little red wine vinegar to dress the string beans once you’ve cooked them. This is a salade composee, so once you’ve prepared the potato salad and string beans, all that’s left to do is arrange all the above ingredients attractively on a bed of lettuce. Depending on your taste, you may or may not want to drizzle it with olive oil and red wine vinegar, and/or add salt and pepper, as there’s already vinaigrette on the potato salad and string beans and oil in the tuna and anchovies, which are both quite salty, as are the olives and capers.

  9. Cooked vegetables are nutritious too – in fact, tomatoes have greater health benefits when cooked! (I was surprised too when I heard this)
    Also, I sent you an email, and was wondering if you reply to those advice-asking emails.

  10. I’ve started chucking milled linseed mix onto my salads – gives it some interesting texture and it’s a good way to get some extra protein in there too.

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