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.
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!
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
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.