Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Super Salads

I just had a wonderful tasty salad for lunch. I love, love, love a huge entree salad-but usually only at home! It is one of the few things that I feel like I can make better than a restaurant. My love affair started when I realized how tasty lettuce is when it isn't iceberg! I only use iceberg for tacos (and that on rare occasion because I rarely have it in the house). We usually either buy what we jokingly refer to as "the box of weeds" (mixed spring greens) or the artisan lettuces that they sell at Costco. I don't usually eat Romaine, either, I find it too hard and there is a lot of waste because the core pieces are bitter. I have found that I love:

-oak leaf
-curly endive (those are the ones that look like seaweed)
-red leaf
-red tip (this is not the same as red leaf)
-spinach (this is considered to be a type of lettuce)
-any type of leaf lettuce
-mesclun (sometimes also called "spring greens" or "baby greens", has dandelion greens, etc.)

I do not like:
-arugula (they say this is "peppery" but I think it is just yuck!)
-radicchio (this is the "red cabbage" that is so bitter)
-Romaine (it is okay in Caesar salads, but we don't have it often at home)
-iceberg (I never use this in a salad at home)

Two good sources for discussing types of lettuce are here and here. The lettuce is definitely the most important part of any good salad. I used to buy the bagged mixes but those are ridiculously expensive. And does anyone else still feel the need to wash the pre-washed lettuce? So they didn't save time, either! Now I only buy those when I want Caesar salad because I don't keep Caesar dressing on hand. My favorite tip for preparing lettuce for salads is to use my kitchen shears to chop it. It is so much quicker and cleaner than using a knife and cutting board. I just snip it right into the bowl. Speaking of bowls I strongly recommend you buy the shallow wide bowl/plates for your salads. It gives you better distribution of ingredients than a narrow, deep bowl and helps to mix the dressing better than a plate. The one in the photo above is perfect!

So now you have your lettuce in your bowl, what next? Then you get to add all the fun stuff!
For veggies I add:
-cucumbers (it is all in how you chop them. Trying slicing them in quarters, cutting out the seeds and chopping into small pieces. Removing the seeds makes them less soggy and bitter)
-tomatoes (I remove the seeds and "gunk" in these, too and Romas are my favorite)
-carrots (I prefer to remove the skin and then peel them into my bowl, rather than chop or grate)
-onions (I like thin half slices, Joel prefers chopped)
- baby yellow, red and orange bell peppers
-celery (that is one of my favorites!)
-olives (prefer them sliced)
-pepperochinis (especially in the salad at Olive Garden!)
Recently I have gotten more adventurous. I don't usually prefer fruit in my salad but I do like:
-apples (these are especially good with bacon and ranch dressing)
-dried blueberries (these are AMAZING with a fruity vinaigrette)
-strawberries (in small quantities)
-craisins (also in small quantities)
For protein:
-pepperoni (I quarter a stack of these with my kitchen shears and that makes them bite-sized)
-deli ham (I just snip it with again, my beloved shears)
-roasted chicken
-chicken fries or nuggets (if you haven't tried these, they are really good! Just chop them up.)
-boiled eggs
-bacon (I like to cook it myself and put it on warm, rather than using bacon bits)
- certain nuts (walnuts, pecans not almonds or peanuts)
For cheese:
-sharp cheddar (my current favorite)
-colby jack
-feta (I have to buy some of this soon!)
For dressing I like:
-ranch (I am such a traditionalist at heart!)
-Vidalia onion
-Sundried Tomato
-Balsamic Vinaigrette
-Honey Dijon (especially Kraft's light version)
-oil and vinegar
-Zesty Italian
-Strawberry Vinaigrette
I am not a fan of tomato based dressings like Catalina or French. I will try pretty much any type of vinegar/oil based dressing. My mom and my sister like to heat their dressing sometimes and it kind of "wilts" their salads. I do love a good wilted spinach salad with a sweet dressing. I am not that adventurous when it comes to dressings because I don't want a whole bottle of something I might not like sitting around my house. Anyway, if you are wondering what salad prompted this it was pretty simple:
-Butter, red leaf and curly endive lettuces
-grated sharp cheddar
-chicken fries
-ranch dressing
Yum! I also enjoyed spring greens, roasted chicken, apples, onions,bacon and ranch over the summer. I like to have ham, bell pepper, onions, spinach and honey dijon, too. I just usually grab what is in the fridge and throw it in. I know, not really that exciting but I was thinking about it so I thought I would share. What are your favorite salad ingredients?


  1. I became addicted to Sundried Tomato vinaigrette - usually by Kraft :)

  2. I too love a salad, even iceberg, although the nutritious salads are the dark, leafy ones. My husband hates iceberg by the way!

    Baby butter is the best lettuce, and I agree, radichio and arugula make me gag!

    Great, now I'm hungry and want salad, even if it is 1:30 am :)

  3. I really like sun-dried tomatoes too. I disagree with celery & onions (HATE them both). Also try using English cucumbers, they don't have you some prep time!!

    All sounds pretty tasty! Plus now they have cheese bits in 100 calorie packs...perfect for a salad...just sayin' :0)



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