Post #683 Top Five Favorite Salads

December 15, 2019 at 1:02 PM | Posted in Basics, Main, Vegetable | 6 Comments

It’s been a long time since I’ve written anything about a salad.  It’s one of my favorite things to eat and I’ll get into that in a minute, but I thought I’d let you know how I’m feeling after the operation.  In a word, weird.  I’ve got four “hole” in my abdomen that are healing up.  These holes are where the instruments went in and the diseased gall bladder came out.  Should have only been three but years ago I had an umbilical hernia repaired so the fourth hole was to make sure that nothing happened to that.  Since the gall bladder is gone, I’m having to rediscover the things I can eat and tolerate versus those I should avoid.  So far, it’s all been good, no real troubles.  I haven’t had any cheese yet.  I’ve had real butter once and did okay.  I had some pre-processed foods and didn’t act up, but I was still pretty doped up too.  I’ve also had a glass of wine that was so much fun!  But it’s time to get serious about this and figure it out.  Partner/Spouse has been Tony the Tiger Grrreat! throughout all this.  So, once the full recuperation is completed we’ll both be paying close attention to what goes in and what goes out.

Luckily, salads can be as no-fats as you need the to be.

Whenever I say “salad” there are a few memories that come rushing to the front of my brain.  As a kid, salad was always eaten with anything that was cooked on the outdoor grill.  Didn’t matter if it was burgers, hotdogs, steak, chicken, or anything else.  If it was cooked outdoors, there was a salad.  And it was always the same salad.  Iceberg lettuce torn to shreds, chopped tomatoes, sliced cucumbers, and onion of some kind.  There might be other things in there, but those four were the basic.  If they weren’t there, it wasn’t salad and wasn’t put on the table.  The dressing was typically Italian, French, and/or Thousand Island.  We weren’t too adventurous or inquisitive in those days.  In my teen years, we branched out more.

When I moved to go to college, I was living with my sister and her husband and one of the weekend go-to dinners was what she called The Big Salad.  They’ve always eaten fairly healthy, but in those days it was a religion for them.  I dubbed it the Garbage Salad because they put things in it that I would have tossed, but I quickly grew to enjoy the salad.  The base was a whole red cabbage sliced thinly.  They did that so it would last a couple of days without wilting.  They also put grated cheese in it, something I’d never done before but made absolute sense when I thought about it.  They put in every fresh vegetable they could find in their garden and from the produce section of the store.  Tomatoes were always in there, the fresher the better.  And they put bacon-flavored soy bits in it.  I hated those things.  And they put firm tofu chunks in it.  And something called vegetable protein bits.  And if we’d planned it right, seed sprouts, which were actually kind of good.  The only dressing was lemon juice from fresh squeezed lemons.  I became addicted to these salads.  For years, the only dressing I’d have on salad was fresh lemon or lime.  I’d never had a salad as a meal before this and it’s still a staple for me now.

When I moved to DC, the two guys I shared the apartment with nominated me to be the cook, which was fine.  They said they liked salad with their meals, so I kept putting salad on the table, which they ignored.  After a couple of weeks, I stopped.  There was no comments made either way, until after several months they started complaining about the meals.  I asked them again what they’d like, and they again asked for salads.  I explained they hadn’t eaten a single mouthful of salad I’d made and they said, “You put stuff in it I don’t like.”  When we finally pared it down to the what would be eaten, it was shredded lettuce.  When I put out a bowl of shredded lettuce, it disappeared.  Go figure.  But that’s what they’d eat, so it made an appearance a couple of times a week.

When I was traveling for the State Dept, I was in Northern Ireland for a couple of weeks by myself.  When I was with a team, we usually would find a restaurant for meals, but when I was alone, I’d find something cheap, easy, and cheerful.  There was a convenience store on the walk back to the hotel that had a nice sandwich counter at the back.  I ordered a sandwich and they asked if I wanted salad?  I said, yes, absolutely, whereupon they put a pile of veggies on top of my sandwich.  I mentally shrugged and accepted it, went back to the hotel, scraped my salad into a bowl and ate it separately alongside my sandwich, which had just enough veggies on it to be interesting.  I did that every night I was there, partly because the shop owner kept me a copy of the USA Today paper every day.  She was sweet.

So, now, when I eat salad, it’s either as a side, or as a meal.  We usually have it with the grilled flesh of some animal on top of it.  We’ve become quite attached to the salad kits because they’re the perfect size for the two of us with no leftovers.  They’re also pretty versatile.  In recent years, we’ve steered clear of any kit that has Romaine lettuce, indeed, Romaine lettuce of any kind, but that’s only re-opened our eyes to all the other fun salad greens out there.

If you like a nice wilted spinach salad, instead of making a hot bacon vinaigrette, try heating a half cup of your favorite dressing, whatever it is.  Use that to wilt the spinach, then top with whatever will complement the dressing.  We’ve used Catalina, blueberries, walnuts, and gouda to create a different salad with spinach that tasted great.

We’ve also started making our own croutons.  My younger brother, when we were in our early twenties, went with his welding crew to our state capitol to work on a job.  He was gone a week and was telling us about his adventure.  They ate at McDs for the most part to save money, but on their last night decided to treat themselves to a nice dinner at Denny’s.  Yeah, I know.  He said, “They put dried up stale bread crumbs all over my salad.”  I laughed and explained what they were, and that they were supposed to be there.  “I don’t care what you call ’em,” he said. “I made them take it back and take them off.”  He eats croutons these days because I showed him how to make them properly.  So easy.  Heat a couple of crushed cloves of garlic in oil until they start to sizzle and remove them.  Cut some bread into half inch squares.  When the oil is shimmering and just starting to smoke, add the bread and stir them around till they brown.  Take them out of the oil and drain them, then add to the salad.  He eats them now like popcorn.

We also make taco salad with the leftovers when we make tacos for dinner.  When you look at it, tacos are designed for leftover taco salad.  I used to think that when I was a kid, but wasn’t allowed to try it out.

So, what are your favorite salads?  Do you prefer fruit salads or vegetable?  Combination?  Let us all know.

as always,

 

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