Thursday, February 9, 2012

salad: the mystery untangled

Can you tell that I've been watching a lot of Downton Abbey by my post title? To say I love that show would be a HUGE understatement. It's tasteful drama, scandal, gossip, outrage, unrequited love and PBS. My Jane Austen heart literally... pitter patters. It's pretty intense.

Katherine gave me the good idea to write about my favorite salads since I seriously eat them daily and I was ready to have a series about salads but I think it deserves a precursor. Like any good food, salads have a foundation to them. Once you get the foundation down you can put ANYTHING on a salad and have it taste good. The options are so limitless!

We'll start with the salad itself, move onto toppings and end in dressings.

Now if you're an iceberg lettuce kind of person you should be ashamed. It has no nutritional value whatsoever. The fact that I just said that is APPALLING to me because I used to never CARE about nutritional value. But if I'm going to eat a bowlful of vegetables only to have them not count as anything, good nor bad for my body is pretty stupid of me. If I'm gonna eat well, let's do it! If I'm gonna have Harold's fried chicken then I've already resolved to eat like crap. woo!

Lettuce should be romaine, mixed greens, spring greens, fresh spinach and/or something nutritional like... shredded brussels sprouts or cabbage or kale... but you know my feelings about kale. I'm willing to give them a chance in salads. Never fear! Myself, I'm a combo kind of girl. My salad ALWAYS starts with thinly chopped romaine lettuce, fresh spinach and broccoli slaw.

*sigh* Broccoli slaw. How did I survive salad eating without broccoli slaw?! It's literally just shredded broccoli and carrots in a bag, but it adds depth to salads to where I don't feel like I'm a giant... brown... rabbit. I feel like I just ATE something legitimate.

Toppings. Toppings are where you can get creative with your salads because it's a mix of everything you like. In terms of vegetables I usually always put on either cucumbers (pickle cucumbers are the BEEEST - the skin is not too thick and they're super tiny!) and radishes - they're crunchy and bright. Love them. At any given time, in my kitchen, I have the following toppings:
  • Tortilla chips (great for literally any salad)
  • dried cranberries, cherries, blueberries, raisins
  • raw almonds, cashews, sunflower seeds, walnuts, pecans and spanish peanuts
  • chicken (poached, sautéed, fajita...ed.) taco meat, roast beef, steak
  • fresh peas, fresh avocado 
  • black beans
  • mexi-corn (a word I'm pretty sure made up by Aldi... but it's so tasty.)
  • garbanzo beans (chick peas) 
  • sautéed vegetables like peppers or mushrooms
  • Granny Smith apples, mandarin oranges
  • shaved coconut
  • feta, gorgonzola, shredded cheddar cheese
  • bacon (duh.) in bit form or whole and crumbled
see!? the possibilities just keep going! This is just stuff I have in my house, not stuff I bought, but I know for a fact that all of these things can be bought at ALDI or WALMART for super. extra. CRAZY CHEAP. It just turns out that my mother has loads of food because she's amazing. True story. I plan on having her guest post pretty soon for a "How to Grocery Shop" feature story. So many younger people have no knowledge of how to shop. I think once you get the basics down you're totally set. I get to sit at the master's feet daily and she needs to impart some KNOWLEDGE. Nutrition for your EYES. 

You can't have a good salad without the finishing touch. Like earrings on a woman, so is dressing to a salad. It is the perfect finisher. My personal favorite is my mother's vinaigrette (literally. good on EVERYTHING) and Trader Joe's spicy peanut vinaigrette. Ranch? A timeless classic and pretty much a girl's best friend next to diamonds. 

...and there you have it! I make all my salad's heavy on the vegetables and the good nutritional stuff and light on the dressing and fattening stuff and it always turns out to be a great meal. Happy eating!


  1. Cannot wait to get back on the salad train I feel so inspired now!! :-)

    And seriously.

    If there is a Gail post I'm pretty sure I will scream as then die. I like to think of you and your mom as my second family- you know the really cool one that teaches you crazy awesome things and gives great advice? Yep.

  2. yay salads. so much vegetable goodness (and fiber) in one bowl. tee-heee...

  3. Yes and thank you! I have a lot of these things in my house at any given time, too. This could totally work for me.

    Also, yes please to the Gail guest post. I hardly know her, but she makes awesome pancakes with nutmeg (and she created you, of course) so I would soak up any knowledge she'd care to share.




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