For all of my writing and talking about how balanced my eating is, I have a secret. I LIVE for salads. Live for them. Meaning, I could eat a giant salad every single night of the week and think nothing of it. Clearly, this is not very good for stimulating my culinary brain, and yes, it is a little boring. But it's true. Having a husband who is a full-time musician means a lot of meals eaten at home, alone, with my good friend DVR. And often, that means easy, and easy means salad. A big, gigantic, often eaten right out of the big bowl, salad.
But here's the thing. My salads are NEVER boring. Never. Though I use similar ingredients every time, they're never quite the same, and they are actually really healthy. Balanced with protein and fiber and flavor, how could I not love them!
My trick to pass on to you is to add everything in the kitchen into your salad. Seriously. Now, this is not going to be your culinary masterpiece. Any chef or food critic would call what I eat on these nights absolutely insane. But insane can be good--and never boring. I generally start with spinach, and add leafy greens, or romaine, depending on season and what I bought at the store that week. A lot of them. A good 2 cups total of lettuces. Then, I go to town on my produce drawers. Cucumber, tomato, bell pepper, avocado, carrot. Fruit: berries, apple, pomegranate, mango, grapefruit...last night it was blood orange. All chopped.
I then head voraciously toward the pantry. Garbanzo beans (chickpeas) and hearts of palm or artichoke hearts. Protein you say? Ok! I usually either cook up a veggie burger (not my favorite food-wise but easy, cheap, delicious and healthy) or slice up some turkey. If I've made chicken any time soon, I'll try to add that in. Tuna's made it's way out of the can and into that salad bowl, too. (No, I don't add all of these at the same time. Just examples--I would be crazy!)
Then I move onto some "garnishes." Adding in some sliced (by me, of course) almonds or walnuts, and usually a good heaping spoonful of ground flax for some extra goodness. And to top it off, usually some crumbled feta, or sliced parmesan, or a good sharp cheese. Make sure to season your salad with salt and pepper--I love using a good sea salt and lots of fresh cracked pepper.
Now, to dress my beautiful concoction. I never, ever, ever buy salad dressing for myself. I do buy it for J, but I don't ever use what I buy for him. Salad dressings were one of the first things I learned to master a few years ago, and I've never looked back. (Many thanks for this go out to my brother and mother for their addiction to homemade dressings.)
I start with an acid or two...usually the juice of a citrus and a vinegar, half and half. I've been going for blood orange or grapefruit lately, but lemon always works, and I throw in a splash of balsamic or re/white wine vinegar. Just a couple of tablespoons, right on top of your salad. Then, I add a touch of sweet--for me that means Agave, but honey is great here too. About 1 tsp. Then just add on a splash of olive oil--I use less than most people, because I like the tang of an acid, but generally people will go 1 to 2 on olive oil. That's WAY to much for me, so just test your palette.
And then toss the whole mixture together! No extra bowls necessary, though of course feel free to create the dressing separately and then toss it with the salad. Like I said, I've been doing this forever, so I know exactly how I like my salad dressed.
So there. I've told you a huge secret. It's not all gourmet up in my kitchen. Often it's me, on the couch, computer on my lap, tv on, with a salad bowl resting on my napkin'd lap. Why dirty an extra bowl, right?