Friday Recipe: Salads Galore

>> Friday, March 20, 2009

A couple days ago I got out my bike, I only had to wear a light jacket, I went for a run in shorts, and I saw a line outside multiple ice cream shops. Alas the cold air reappeared since then, but my calendar tells me that spring has arrived. In light of this change of seasons, today's recipe is less recipe and more salad combos. I eat a lot of salad, and spring promises the return of the farmer's market and more fresh veggies.

Woodbridge Salad
This was the Sunday night regular my senior year of college when I lived in -- wait, very surprising, a house named Woodbridge. The 13 residents plus a couple hangers-on (you know who you are), and our faculty associate gathered for dinner weekly. We cooked in pairs and had a range of meals, but this salad provided one constant.

*baby corn
*peppers (often cut out to spell "Woodbridge" but you can slice, dice, or julienne as you please)
*hearts of palm
*goat cheese
*redwine/balsamic/mustard [choose one or more] vinaigrette

Spinach-Fruit Salad
I like making this salad when I want a sweet-tangy combination. It's also a good winter salad as it can use canned items more easily than many salads.

*pomegranate seeds
*mandarin oranges
*raspberries (frozen can work if defrosted carefully)
*chickpeas or hard-boiled egg whites (for some protein)
*red-wine vinaigrette
[sometimes I add corn and/or hearts of palm as well, for color and saltiness]

Greek Salad
I love olives.

*Romaine lettuce
*green/red peppers
*red onions
*kalamata olives
*feta (crumbled)
[some would add cucumbers; I don't like cucumbers so none for my salad]

High-Protein Salad
Keeps the vegetarians happy. This is basically a greens salad with a heavy dose of beans/tofu/eggs. The veggies you use can easily change to accommodate color/taste/texture preferences. Likewise, you can shift around the proteins as you like; the list simply gives some easy ways to make a salad into something more than a side dish.

*hard-boiled eggs (I only use whites but use what you like)
*kidney beans
*cubed tofu (you can make with a marinade or use plain)
*shredded carrots
*red onions
*snow peas
*cheese to sprinkle on top
*dressing of choice

For me, salads depend on my mood and cravings, and change regularly. Hearts of palm always make me happy and thus appear as often as affordable. Chickpeas are another easy source of salad happiness and get tossed into my salads more often than not. I love tomatoes (as a child I would steal them off other people's plates....somehow my parents managed to be more amused by this pluckiness than horrified at my manners and somehow I stopped this). But I love really good tomatoes and so their presence is somewhat seasonable (or, admittedly, dependent on the quality of the tomatoes that make their way to the grocery store in winter. Yes I buy out-of-season vegetables). Again, know what you like but feel comfortable experimenting.

And I'm sure you have many more salad ideas -- feel free to add them in the comments section.

A Note on Vinaigrettes
I think there's some "rule" that vinaigrettes should be 2/3 oil to 1/3 vinegar. I break this rule all the time, favoring half-and-half or 1/3 oil to 2/3 vinegar. I prefer vinegar's tang, and adjust accoridngly. Depending on the salad and my cupboard, I may use balsamic, red-wine, or apple-cider vinegar. Taste them and figure out what you like. Sometimes I add mustard to either red-wine or balsamic vinegars. Sometimes I add lemon juice. Sometimes I add syrup or olasses (sweet + thickener).

The point is that there is no single way to dress a salad or make a dressing, and you should feel liberated to experiment. Using an old (but clean) glass jar, start adding ingredients, shake, and taste. Continue until you like the taste. Try and remember what you did for future reference.


Cathie March 20, 2009 at 5:08 PM  

Yummy salads, thanks for the great inspiration. You made me hungry.

Anonymous April 20, 2009 at 7:51 PM  

Those salads all look great! I love putting chick peas in salads, too.

A unique salad I enjoy is made up of baby lettuces, sliced pickled eggs and beets, orange segments, and thinly sliced red onions. You can mix together some of the beet pickling liquid with a little oil to make your own vinaigrette, or use a citrus-y vinaigrette.

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