Monday Salad

Have you ever sat down to relax on Sunday evening and had the realization that the only vegetable you’d consumed in the entire day was an onion ring?  Weekends in our home are notorious for eating food that has more taste value than nutritional value.  We get out of our normal schedule and sometimes end up drinking coffee for a few hours in the morning and then going out for a few thousand calories worth of Tex Mex and calling it a day.  Often weekends are when I have time to get serious baking done.  Sometimes we spend an afternoon at the food truck park.  Regardless of how our weekend goes, by Monday I’m yearning for healthy food.  During the colder months I make soup and during the warmer months we have salad.  While we don’t specifically focus on “Meatless Monday”, we only eat meat a few times a week and usually not on Mondays unless I happen to have a few extra grilled chicken breasts in the fridge.

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I also grocery shop and meal plan on Mondays and a big salad or soup is a great chance to clear out the previous week’s uneaten produce.  This particular salad evolves every single week in our house based on grocery sales and the contents of my fridge.  I’ve included a few variations, but unlike baking a cake, a salad is very imprecise.  Use what you have and what you like.  This version of the salad feeds conservatively 8 people.  It’s huge.  We have a big family and I like leftovers, but consider halving if you don’t want salad for days.  Grab your cutting board and your best knife – let’s go!

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Monday Salad

1 head lettuce (I prefer romaine, but iceberg or spinach will work, too)

1/2 head of purple cabbage

1 head broccoli

3-6 carrots or a large handful of baby carrots

1/2 pint of cherry tomatoes

3 green onions

1 package ramen noodles

1/2 cup sunflower seeds

1/2 Tbsp butter

1 can chickpeas OR 2 grilled chicken breasts

 

Dressing:

1/2 cup oil (coconut, canola, vegetable, whatever.  I use Mediterranean blend, which is a grapeseed/olive mix).

1/3 cup rice wine vinegar

1/2 tsp salt

1 Tbsp brown sugar

1/2 tsp sriracha or tabasco

1. Finely chop the lettuce and cabbage to make the base of the salad, arrange in a large, shallow bowl or platter.  Dice the broccoli, discarding the stems, and green onions and arrange on top.  Peel and dice the carrots, scatter on top.  Half the cherry tomatoes and finely chop any other vegetables you have (radishes, celery, cucumber).

2. In a small frying pan, melt the butter and with the ramen noodle package still sealed, use a mallet or meat tenderizer (or your hand, whatever) to crush the noodles up.  You CAN open the bag and chop it up, but it creates a mega mess.  Discard the “flavor” pouch.  Pour the crushed, uncooked noodles and the sunflower seeds into the pan and toast for a few minutes until golden brown and fragrant.

3.  Either drain and rinse your chickpeas or finely dice or shred your chicken breasts and add to your salad.

4. In a small jar, combine all salad dressing ingredients and shake until combined.  Drizzle the dressing over the salad and serve.  I layer my salad on a platter so I don’t need to toss it – we just scoop straight down to get everything.  If you’re using a bowl, definitely toss your salad.  If you’d like to add any sliced avocado or cheese, I recommend adding it to bowls individually – the dressed salad will save just fine for about 48 hours without those ingredients.

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Late Summer Gazpacho

If you’re lucky enough to live in a place where it isn’t summer anymore, feel free to file this away for use 7-8 months.  But if, like me, you’re still seeing 90 degree temperatures and you’re looking for a fresh tasting meal, then join me for some gazpacho.  If you haven’t made gazpacho before, you definitely should.  It’s quite possibly the easiest dinner ever, it will sufficiently increase your fruit and vegetable consumption for the day, and if you’ve ever thought it would be wise to eat salsa straight out of the bowl, but spice is a concern – you’ll be in heaven.

It’s great for a light lunch, but if you’re serving it for dinner you probably need to consider it as an appetizer or serve some heavy side dishes.

Gazpacho

adapted from Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman

3 garlic cloves

1/2 red onion

1 cucumber

1 zucchini

2 stalks of celery

1 pint cherry tomatoes

1/4 cup olive oil

2T red wine vinegar

1 tsp tabasco or cholula

4 cups V8

salt and pepper

3 hardboiled eggs

1 avocado

1. Peel and roughly chop the garlic and onion and pulse in a food processor until liquefied.  Cut off the ends of the zucchini and cucumber and process until smooth.  Roughly chop the celery and tomatoes and add until the soup is about the consistency of salsa.

2. Transfer to a large bowl and stir in the oil, vinegar, hot sauce, and V8.  Taste and season with salt and pepper.

3. Chop the avocado and eggs and serve the gazpacho cold with the eggs and avocado on top.

Italian Chopped Salad

I attended a local university for my second two years of college and lived at home.  While a lot of college students would hate living with their parents and teenage brothers, I tend to look back on those days very fondly.  During that time my youngest brother (who was 10-11) had a music lesson every Thursday night across town and my parents, my other brother, and I would ride along (in a minivan, natch), go shopping during his lesson, and then eat at a local Italian place, Joe’s.  The food there was a no-nonsense baked pastas and pizza, but the real standout was their signature salad – The Joe’s Salad.  It was one of those salads so rich in cheese and meat that it could hardly be classified as actual salad, but so delicious that you couldn’t stop eating it.

So, when I found this recipe it went on my menu immediately – and will be repeated often in the coming months.  A dinner salad is one of my favorites in the summer because it requires no cooking – you don’t get a hot kitchen from oven/stove use, and since the meal itself isn’t warm it has a cool, refreshing taste.  I feel like I’ve run about 10 degrees too hot since 2011 since I became pregnant for the first time so anything to avoid heat in the summer is excellent.  Give this salad a try – like all salads, customize it to fit your needs and preferences.  As always, I prefer to serve the dressing on the side so the leftovers don’t become soggy.  Also, I bought a half pound of both the salami and provolone, expecting to use it all, but it was too much.  You could get by with 1/4lb, but I thought 1/3 pound was about perfect.

Italian Chopped Salad

serves 4 to 6 as a complete meal

for the salad:

1 large head of crunchy lettuce (I used romaine, but iceberg, radicchio, or some combination would work)

1/2 of a red onion

1/3 to 1/2 pound of salami

1/3 to 1/2 pound of provolone cheese

1 pint cherry tomatoes

a handful of pepperoncini (or banana pepper) rings

1 can chickpeas

for the dressing:

3 cloves of garlic (or 2tsp garlic powder)

1T dried oregano

2tsp salt

pepper

juice of 1 lemon

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1. Chop the lettuce, finely slice the onion, and dice the provolone and salami into bite-sized pieces (I had them sliced thick in the deli, then cut them into small ribbons.  Cut the tomatoes in half and arrange all of the chopped salad ingredients into a large bowl.  Top with the drained and rinsed chickpeas and pepperoncinis.

2. To make the dressing, smash the garlic cloves, oregano, and salt together with either a knife or a mortar and pestle.  Combine with the other dressing ingredients and serve.  I typically put my dressing in a jam jar so I can shake it to combine, but whisking works fine, too.

 

Salmon Chopped Salad

Our family has recently rediscovered cabbage, so we’ve been eating cabbage salads every week.  I’m not sure how we ever forgot about cabbage, but the crunch, the color, the healthiness – it’s really a great base for a summery salad.  Last week I shared my chopped chicken salad, this is sort of a variation on that, but it has a little more ginger and a little less peanut.  I made it for my mother-in-law and sister-in-law for a light, summery dinner, but it’d also be a great lunch.

It’s also a good time to point out that I’ve started measuring lime juice in tablespoon and teaspoons recently and not in actual limes.  I much prefer fresh limes, but in the recent lime crisis, I just can’t afford $1.79 per lime, so I bought a big jug of lime juice and I’ve been using that for everything except gin & tonics, which call for true lime wedges.  I typically think a lime yields 2T of juice, but I also don’t really measure things like lime juice with any accuracy anyway.

Salmon Chopped Salad

for the salmon:

1lb. salmon filets (for me, this usually means 2 filets, and I cut each in half to make 4 equal pieces)

1T lime juice (half a lime)

2T soy sauce

2 cloves of garlic

small cube of fresh ginger

1/2 tsp sriracha

salt and pepper

for the salad:

half a head of purple cabbage

6ish cups of spinach (I like there to be about the same amount of cabbage and spinach)

4 green onions

3 carrots

1 mango

handful of cilantro

3T toasted sesame seeds

for the dressing:

2T lime

1/3 cup olive oil

2 tsp sesame oil

1/3 cup soy sauce

2T honey

1T garlic powder

1T ginger (I use granulated)

1 tsp (or more) sriracha

1. Preheat the oven to 400.  Mince the garlic and ginger.  Stir the lime juice, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, and sriracha together to create a glaze.  Brush the salmon on both sides with the glaze and create a packet of foil to bake the fish in.  Bake the fish for 8-10 minutes, until the fish flakes easily with a fork.

2. Chop the cabbage, carrots, green onions, and spinach.  Peel and dice the mango.  Toss together in a large serving bowl.  Chop the cilantro and sprinkle on top.

3. Combine the dressing ingredients together and whisk until well combined.  Serve the salad with the warm fish on top, drizzled with dressing, topped with sesame seeds.

Nutrition: 539 calories for 1/4 of the salmon, salad, and dressing.  25g fat, 18g sugar, 33g protein.

 

Edited to add:

The lime crisis is over!  Use real limes – they’re cheap again!