Post #382 In Praise of Salads!

June 15, 2015 at 12:40 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Post #382 In Praise of Salads!

Recently, I read an article about smoothies.  Smoothies are fun, and can be quite delicious.  But at their core, smoothies are just raw vegetables that have been pureed to a smooth consistency with some ice.  The article was making the point that since smoothies were raw vegetables, eating a salad would give you the same benefit as a smoothie.  It’s just one form (bulk veggies) versus another form (pureed veggies.)  I’m neither here nor there on the subject of smoothies versus salads.  Do what you like if it’s the same benefits.  But it did remind me how much I like salads.


I’ve written before about how my mom was an uninspired cook.  Meat, potatoes, and canned veg every night.  The variety changed, but the equation did not.  The only time it varied was when she cooked international.  Spaghetti didn’t have vegetables; tacos were mostly all vegetables.  I remember once looking at my plate after finishing up my tacos.  Being kids, our plates usually had as much taco fixings as the tacos did.  I asked my dad if all of it could be put together for a salad.  He said he didn’t think it would taste good.  40 years later, I’m thinking taco salads are wonderful.

On weekends, though, we’d have Barbeque Night.  Saturday night was always grilled something, potatoes cooked in the embers, corn cooked on the grill, and salad.  When I first started making the salads, it was always the same thing.  I didn’t know salads could have other ingredients than iceberg lettuce, onion, tomatoes, and cucumbers.  That was how my mom taught me, and that’s what I fixed for years.  Oh!  And always Italian dressing.  Then one weekend, a friend brought his girlfriend and she made the salad.  I bit into it and was amazed.


“What did you do to it?” I asked in wonder.  Salt and pepper.  All she did was sprinkle a little salt and pepper over the veggies when she tossed it.  I had never ever heard of sprinkling salt on lettuce before.  It defied reason!  But it tasted good.  And it opened a whole new train of thought for me about what a salad was.

When I was in college and living with my sister and her husband, my task during the week was to be the cook.  One night, I was well into the menu.  I don’t remember what I was making, but I wanted to have a salad with it.  We didn’t have anything for a salad except some cherry tomatoes from the garden.  I wandered out to the garden looking for inspiration.  Hmmm, there were plenty of greens on the other plants.  I picked a bowlful of leaves and shoots from Brussels sprouts, broccoli, a couple of other “safe” plants, washed them off, cut them in ribbons, added the cherry tomatoes and a handful of chopped onions and tossed it all in a bowl with oil and vinegar.  Then I added a few sesame seeds and parmesan cheese.  On a whim, I added frozen blueberries, just a handful, and let it chill.  While we were eating dinner, my sister she’d been wanting salad and where did we get it from.  Both their jaws dropped when I told them, but it disappeared quickly down our throats.  She still talks about.

Another time, Partner/Spouse and I were taking a week off to lounge in a log cabin on the side of a mountain in the forest of Virginia.  We were both recovering from a long bout of flu and the week of rest was a god-send.  Even the dog enjoyed it.  Our second night there, we wanted to try the grill so we got a couple of steaks, but the store didn’t have anything for salad greens.  On inspiration, I picked up a few items and built a salad once we got back.  I cubed some feta cheese, added some pistachios (shelled by hand), cubed some cucumbers and one tomato.  I tossed it all with some olive oil and pear vinegar.  Then I sprinkled some Italian herb mix lightly over the top and chilled it.  Wonderful stuff, one I still make once in a while.

I was reading a novel many years ago and the main character was making a salad for a dinner party.  She was describing to her niece how to make a salad.  “Every fresh vegetable I can find on a bed of lettuce with hard boiled egg chopped over the top.”  Simple, but effective.  You just have to make sure the vegetables you choose are edible and tasty in their raw form.

When I first moved to the D.C. area, I was sharing an apartment with two guy who were in the Navy.  Because they had particular weight requirements, they asked that I make a salad with dinner as often as possible.  The first night, I made a large bowl of salad that had tons of different veggies in it.  I took a bowlful and ate it with gusto along with the rest of the meal.  They didn’t touch it.  The next night, I put it out again and watched as they ignored it.  The next night, I freshened it up a bit, and I ate nothing but salad, while they chomped down on whatever else was on the table.  By that point, the salad was wilted enough that eating it another night was not wise, so I tossed it.  Since they weren’t salad eaters, I stopped making salads.  Two weeks later, we were discussing menus and they complained there was never any salad on the table.  It turned out that I put things in the salad they didn’t like.  After we eliminated all the components they objected to, we were left with a bowl of shredded lettuce.  So it was on the table as often as I could shred it.

Last week, Partner/Spouse and I were discussing dinner plans.  I was making thick cut pork chops and he suggested making a salad using the broccolini in the fridge.  I can’t leave well enough alone, so what eventually ended up on the table was a bowl with chopped broccolini, thinly sliced onions, pecans, and cilantro dressed with Italian dressing with extra raspberry vinegar.

Salads are good in whatever form you make them and whatever components go into them.  Go crazy.





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