|Fancy chop-chop salad, Wasabi style - Photo by Wasabi Prime|
One of my favorite salads to order is a chopped salad. I know it seems like a weird thing to call "a favorite." It's literally random bits of cold cuts, veggies, maybe some garbanzo beans, and romaine lettuce, Slap-Chopped into oblivion and served up at the price of an entree. I'm fairly sure restaurants would just call that "leftovers," but hey, it's tasty. I think I mostly like it because it's a mix of favorite flavors and textures - salty, fatty, creamy, with a nice crunch. It's also pretty easy to prepare at home, as all you basically need is a giant crisper full of random veggies and some lunchmeat. For this at-home version, I put an extra ooh-la-lah on it by roasing some roma tomatoes and stuffing with herbed goat cheese. I had some extra pesto made from our surplus of garden herbs -- always a nice plus -- and just mixed it with some goat cheese. Stuffed in halved/seeded roma tomatoes, they roasted nicely and made the chopped salad a bit more hefty.
Because this is an UnRecipe post, for the Wasabi Chopped Salad special, the ingredients that got chopped up included: romaine lettuce, cucumbers, salami, ham, Asiago cheese, red peppers, tomatoes, pepperocini, kalamata olives (sometimes), and a hefty sprinkle of garbanzo beans. For something this flavorful, I just drizzle the bottom of a metal bowl with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, some salt and pepper, and whisk it before tossing all the ingredients in to fully toss and coat. The roasted goat cheese-stuffed tomataoes are of course optional, but it's a nice way to dress up a salad to make it more of a full meal.
|A cobb-ish salad for dinner - Photo by Wasabi Prime|
Another meal-sized salad that uses most of the same ingredients is a cobb salad. I have my own Wasabi-style that may or may not include avocado, depending on whether or not I have it handy. I think the only thing that really makes my at-home salad somewhat cobb-ish is the boiled egg and some crumbled blue cheese. For this UnRecipe cobb salad, it tends to include chopped romaine, English cucumber (I hate seeding/peeling), ham, turkey, Provolone, chopped tomatoes, boiled egg, blue cheese and crumbles of bacon. For this salad, I tend to use my kitchen shortcuts, which is to say I boil the eggs ahead of time, usually four or five at a time, and instead of cooking the bacon in a skillet, I lay a couple of slices between paper towels and microwave them till crisp -- usually about four minutes in our microwave. The quickie dressing I use is a honey mustard vinaigrette, which has a squeeze of honey, salt and pepper, a dollop of dijon mustard, a splash of vinegar, and whisked with some olive oil to emulsify the whole bit. I do this in a large metal bowl first, trying to coat the sides before all the chopped ingredients go in, so it helps distribute the dressing better.
Overall, salads for dinner are a nice way to have a big meal without feeling stupid full afterwards. My eyes are often bigger than my stomach, but at least with a giant pile of chopped veggies and some protein, it works out nicely for dinner, my doctor is happy I get my roughage, and I have the indulgence of having a bit of bacon or cured meats for dinner. I know it sounds like a lot of ingredients to have on-hand and chop for a single salad, but to save on time, you can slice up things like the meat or cheese ahead of time and keep in a container. Chopped cucumber and bell peppers can be pre-chopped and stay fresh for maybe a couple of days. For the most part, it's a relatively quick preparation for an all-in-one meal, and it's a relief to not have to turn on the stove on a hot summer day.
|Salads make for happy meals - Photo by Wasabi Prime|