In the Kitchen
There's nothing I like better than raiding the refrigerator and pulling together a Big Salad for dinner.
Here's a confession, I was late to the table when I started eating salads. I didn't start eating them until well into my 20s, and even then, it was sparingly. When I went out to dinner, you didn't ask for "salad dressing on the side," and the choices of dressing were either too rich, full of mayo, or too acidic. Plus, salads were drenched in the stuff, which put me off even more.
Having salad at home meant lettuce, maybe a tomato, and no dressing. It wasn't very exciting, so I skipped the whole deal.
Then when I was nearly 30, my Mom and I started going to this local restaurant, and they had a salad with grilled chicken breast and grilled tomatoes. It was a life-changing moment.
The warm chicken wilted the lettuce ever so slightly, and the juices from the tomatoes were the perfect dressing for me. I can't even remember if they dressed the salad, or perhaps I boldly asked for no dressing. Either way, it opened my eyes to what salads could be beyond iceberg lettuce dripping with blue cheese or Italian dressing.
Today, I regularly crave a salad. I always have some type of lettuce or spinach in the fridge, or in the Spring and Fall, pick it right from the garden. I also love to spice up bagged salad mixes with creative toppings.
Here are a few of my favorites:
Grilled or roasted meats - anything will do
For a quick lunch, I will throw frozen raw chicken breast cut into strips into the microwave with soy sauce and garlic. Cook for 5-6 minutes and then put on a cold salad. Yum!
Freshly cooked fish or shrimp - a staple in the summer
Grilled or roasted veggies - summer squash in the summer and roasted root veggies in the winter
Nuts and seeds - sunflower seeds are a favorite. I toast them first.
Rice and grains - I love to sprinkle these over the salad
Homemade croutons - you don't need many
Leftovers reheated - It could be chicken tikka masala, beef stew, glazed carrots, or sausage & peppers. It really doesn't matter.
Give your salads an upgrade. If you love salad dressing, great. But you might consider giving a unique topping a try instead and see how you like it.
Since writing this blog, we've been chatting on the Facebook Group about other people's favorite toppings. Here's what they shared:
Strawberries & Feta
Strawberries & Pecans
Watermelon and Slivered Almonds
Strawberries, Raspberries, Sliced Almonds with Raspberry Vinaigrette
Looks like I'm not alone in my quest for different toppings. 😊