After Impatient Foodie launched, I got nervous. I am not a chef! Who the hell am I to have a food blog?!?! To assuage my self-doubt, I started attempting fancier, more complicated dishes. While a lot of them were OK, they were just not good enough. It got a pretty dramatic with lots of big sighs, throwing hands in the air, pouting, and crises of confidence. James had to post notes around the kitchen saying things like, “failure is the mother of success” just so I would stay on the rails when things went awry.
One night, after serving James yet another mediocre trial dish, he looked at me and said, “I think you’re over thinking it. Just do what you’re good at. You make some of the best salads I’ve ever had, write about that.” At first, I was like “Oh yeah right, honey, I’ll just post a recipe that says ‘rinse salad and serve.’ Great idea.” But then, as I was making salads for myself, I realized that I do have a “salad formula” that can be applied throughout the seasons and always yields excellent (and filling!) results. Additionally, I looked at some fancy cookbooks and other food blogs and they all have salad recipes, so why the hell can’t I? So, the formula for salads is this:
Good lettuce leaves or raw spinach or arugula or a mix
+ At least 4 seasonal vegetables of different colors/textures (chopped/grated)
+ Small handful of raw nuts (whatever your fave kind are. I love raw cashews!)
+ Some chopped onion or scallions
+ Some kind of fat (like feta cheese or avocado)
+ Optionally, you can add some protein in (grilled chicken, hard boiled eggs, tofu…)
= SUPERB SALAD every time. (Some dressing ideas are below).
Now, I know what some of you might be thinking: Avocados are NOT local for people who live in NYC. I hold my hands up to that. I have addressed my avocado weakness in interviews like this one and while I am trying to shake the habit and decrease my consumption of them, sometimes I simply cannot resist. And some other peeps might be thinking, “Why would I add a fat to my salad?” And a my simple answer to that is because it’s yummy AND nutritionally speaking, the fats will help your to absorb the nutrients in the fresh vegetables. Don’t believe me? Check it out here. Send me pics of your salads on Twitter and Instagram!
Some dressing ideas are below, but if I’m in a rush I usually just throw on some good glugs of olive oil and salt. That’s very yummy too!
A Formula For A Great Salad
LETTUCE – WASHED AND DRIED
AT LEAST 4 DIFFERENT COLORS OF VEGETABLES – CHOPPED, GRATED, OR JULIENNED.
1/8 CUP OF A CHOPPED ONION OR SCALLIONS
WHOLE SLICED AVOCADO OR 2 TABLESPOONS OF CHEESE, LIKE FETA
½ HANDFUL OF RAW NUTS
PROTEIN – LIKE TOFU, CHICKEN, HARD BOILED EGGS (OPTIONAL)
- Lay your washed lettuce as a “base.”
- Layer on your chopped/julienned/grated vegetables
- Scatter the onion
- Add in avocado or cheese
- Scatter raw nuts
- Cut your protein into small pieces and add to the salad
- Put dressing of choice (some ideas at bottom of this post)
- If you are not eating your salad right away, do NOT dress it! Only dress your salad at the very last minute. You can make your dressing ahead of time, but just don’t put it on the salad until you’re ready to chow down.
- Mix very well.
2 TEASPOONS OF VINEGAR OR LEMON JUICE
1 TEASPOON OF DIJON MUSTARD
1-2 TABLESPOONS OF OLIVE OIL
SALT AND PEPPER TO TASTE
Put lemon juice or vinegar in a blender with the mustard and blend. Then, as the blender motor is running, slowly add in the olive oil. When it’s all lovely and emulsified, remove from blender season with salt and pepper and enjoy.
2 CUPS FRESH BASIL LEAVES
2 CLOVES OF GARLIC
2 TABLESPOONS OF WHITE WINE VINEGAR
2 TEASPOONS OF DIJON MUSTARD
½ CUP OF OLIVE OIL
SALT, TO TASTE
PEPPER, TO TASTE
Similar strategy here: Put the garlic, white wine vinegar, and mustard in a blender and blend for about 15 seconds. Then, as the blender motor is running, slowly add in the olive oil. When dressing is emulsified, add in the basil leaves and pulse a few times until they are broken up into small, shredded pieces. Season with salt and pepper and enjoy.