I eat a lot of salad. If you’d said that to me three years ago, I would have envisioned “a lot” being a reasonable amount of salad, maybe a side salad with dinner most nights, with a couple of meal salads for lunches. But no, I mean A LOT of salad. On average, two of my meals every day are probably salads. I have an entire theory of salad creation that I developed a while back and my salads are full meals. Also complex, interesting, and often weird. And surprisingly enough, I’ve started to get bored with them.
I’m not even sure how it’s possible to get bored when we’re talking about so many different kinds of food. For examples, here are some of the salads I’ve eaten in the last week:
1) Mixed greens, honey smoked salmon, radishes, cucumbers, black olives, avocado, balsamic vinegar.
2) Mixed greens, roast beef sliced thin and rolled, carrot rounds, cucumbers, avocado, balsamic vinegar.
3) Mixed greens, turkey chunks, fresh mango, dried apricots, avocado, dressing made of balsamic vinegar mixed with peach honey mustard.
4) Mixed greens, topped with chicken mixed with capers, avocado, a little olive oil, and avocado chunks.
5) Shredded cabbage, shrimp sautéed in garlic, nectarine, red onion, avocado, cilantro, dressing of lime juice, white wine vinegar, olive oil and a little salt.
See the impossibility of being bored? And yet… there starts to be a sameness. I’m sure I had #1 at least three times, I know I’ve had #3 twice (and it’s new to my rotation), and I didn’t include the “mixed greens, hamburger, avocado” that I ate at least three times.
Thus, I am now discovering the virtues of salad dressing. For a long time, the majority of my salads have simply been topped with plain balsamic vinegar. But when I was fretting over my sense of salad boredom, I realized that the best salads, my favorites, are the ones with more interesting dressings. And the great thing is that an interesting salad dressing is ridiculously easy to make. Most of mine are just a form of vinegar (often balsamic, but sometimes red wine or white wine) and potentially a little olive oil mixed with a flavoring: i.e., jam, jelly, mustard, chopped herbs, garlic, sometimes a little salt or pepper.
But the internet is providing me with lots of interesting potential new options. So, collected here for my future reference:
1) shallots or green onion
2) lime zest or lemon zest
3) parmesan cheese
4) feta cheese
5) minced jalapeno pepper (hot sauce might be tasty, too?)
6) minced red onion
7) mayo! or greek yogurt — creamy dressings sound quite easy, actually
8) nuts — but most of those recipes require a blender, maybe I could mash the nuts with a hammer, instead?
9) olives — also the blender problem, but maybe I could mince the olives? on the other hands, lots of my salads have olives, not sure I need them in the dressing
10) truffle oil or flavored oils? — a great idea, but probably not going to work well in my future minimalist life
11) sweeteners — honey, maple syrup
12) cumin? maybe for a salad with roasted vegetables?
13) orange juice or other juice
15) any pureed fruit
17) soy sauce
18) fish sauce
Most of the time, I don’t actually follow recipes because most recipes make enough that I’d have to throw out a lot or eat the same salad many times in a row. I just mix up a teaspoon of something with a tablespoon or so of vinegar and add oil only if it looks like it needs the oil. But I suspect with some of these (cumin, fish sauce, anything with mayo), I’d be a lot better off if I got the proportions right. Still, I’ve gotten so many interesting new ideas that I’m quite looking forward to my next few meals. I wonder if a cumin cranberry dressing for a salad with turkey chunks would taste good? I bought a big piece of turkey at CostCo the other day and I’m going to be eating it for many more meals this week. I’ll have to give it a try.
In other news… Orlando is a weird place to live this week. It’s a big city, but a small world and it feels like everyone knows someone affected by the tragedy. I’m trying to stay off social media, having unfriended a couple people for the first time ever, and trying to avoid the news, too, after Sunday’s binge, but it’s impossible not to be aware of the emotion in the atmosphere. But the sun is shining and the weather is lovely and Tuesday we had a huge rainbow of which this is not a very good picture…
… and on we go.