Saturday, March 27, 2010

Vegging Out: The Entree Salad

Since going the way of the veggie-eater, I have given some thought to what makes for a good entree salad. I have always been a fan of eating my greens, but trying to "beef" them up to be the main part of the meal has taken some creativity. But here are some of my new favorite ingredients, and my classic salad secrets. Friends swear by them, and revealed here for the first time- I feel a little strange. I only told my husband the trick a few years back... Well, for you, dear readers, I present the world:

(As you move through each category, the trick is to add less and less of that set- so lots of leaves, a little less veg, a little less fruit, and then a pinch of dairy, protein, and finally light on the dressing makes for the right ratio!!)

1. Begin with...

Rubbing the bowl with a clove of garlic. Reserve to make dressing.

2. Add: Leaves:
-Romaine Hearts
-Boston lettuce
-Red and Green leaf
-Dandelion, frisee, etc
-fresh herbs: basil, parsley, oregano

I like at least 2 kinds of lettuce in my salad. I can't stand iceberg. Not sure why anyone eats it, it's predominantly bland, pretty much like eating water, and it makes me burp like crazy. *Dislike* If I am using a head of lettuce, I do not cut the leaves with a knife but rip them with my hands. I rinse them and pat them dry, but leave a little water on them to mix with the dressing.

3. Add: Veggies

-Roast Red Peppers
-Cherry tomato (Room temperature! No one likes a cold tomato...)
-green or yellow bell pepper
-baby bella mushrooms (I can't stand white button, again NO flavor whatsoever, though at least in this case I get why the texture can be pleasing)
-garbanzo or black beans
-red onion
-shredded carrot
-asparagus, other dark greens

I usually overdue it if I use more than 2-3 veggie mix-ins tops. It's hard to stop myself sometime, but then the veggies just become overwhelming.

4. Add: Fruits, Nuts, Seeds:
-strawberry, apple, pear, orange, grapes
-dried cranberry
-pine nuts

I will put in one of these choices for a sweet compliment to the salad.

5. Add:Protein
-chicken (for my carnivore friends!)
-marinated beef
-portobello mushroom
-bacon or pancetta

I suggest a small serving, just a handful!

6. Add:Dairy
-parmesan/ pecorino
- crumbled goat cheese, feta, or blue

*Just a pinch!

7. Add: Secret Seasonings
-Pinch italian seasoning, pinch salt, fresh ground black pepper

8. Add:Balsamic Dressing:

1 clove garlic, minced very fine
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper
Up to 1 cup olive oil

Mix mustard, vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper. Slowly drizzle in olive oil and whisk. (This is key). Taste to adjust flavors. Pour on slowly, and enough to wet salad, but it should by no means be taking a bath! MY biggest pet peeve is an overdressed salad! If you actually put in great ingredients, you won't need to hide the bland flavor with a ton of dressing. If you like a crouton, or olives, toss just a few on top, and voila!


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