Thursday, March 8, 2012

Big Salad

Big Salad is my new go-to meal for when I don't feel like cooking.  Luckily my husband has an almost pathological need to have a salad with dinner, so it's not much of a stretch to convince him we should have a salad for dinner.  For my part, well, I never know when scurvy is going to strike, so I have to stay on top of my vegetable consumption.  The best thing about Big Salad though, is that you can make it from whatever the heck you have on hand.  Sometimes we go buy something for Big Salad (like the beautiful piece of salmon shown above), but it works with all kinds of leftover protein.  If you made some Chinese Chicken, throw in some Asian ingredients.  Chicken with Lemon and Oregano sitting in your fridge?  Go Greek!

So here's our basic formula for Big Salad:

1) Pick a protein, leftover or fresh.
2) Decide on an incredibly loosely interpreted flavor theme.
3) Round up loose end vegetables and such, wash, chop, steam if necessary.
4) Make a homemade dressing.
5) Serve.

Easy right? Because you can often use leftover (or in some cases below, ready to serve) protein it takes hardly any time to make.  The vegetable base for the salad is incredibly forgiving, absorbing all manner of leftover vegetable bits that aren't enough to make a real side dish.  Just let what you have on hand guide your salad style and then use certain (usually pantry friendly) elements to tie it all together. 

Here are some ideas to get you started:
 Asian - we did a soy glaze on the salmon, or use steak, then use snap peas, asparagus, red cabbage and cashews which we lightly steamed, the dressing was soy and sesame oil and rice wine vinegar.
Greek - use leftover chicken (the above link or regular lemon chicken work perfectly!), use feta and kalamata olives.  Mix up a dressing with red wine vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, finely chopped red onion and a bit of feta to help hold it together.
Nicoise - shrimp or tuna, hard boiled eggs, green beans, mix up a dressing of finely chopped kalamata olives, extra virgin olive oil, a mashed anchovy (or a smidge of anchovy paste) and  lemon juice.
Vegetarian - chickpeas and hard boiled eggs add plenty of protein, add any other veggies you like.  I secretly like this with store bought French dressing, but don't tell Ryan that.
Mediterranean - use white beans and tuna as your protein; mix up some extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar and finely chopped garlic for your dressing.
Just Freakin' Yummy - add slivered almonds, craisins and a dressing of red wine vinegar, finely diced red onion, extra virgin olive oil and some crumbled up blue cheese.
Mexican - left over chicken (especially if it started as fajitas or in salsa), black beans, cheese (so many different ones will work), jalapenos (you've got a jar shoved in the back of your fridge right?), avocado and make your dressing from a vegetable oil, some lime juice and a titch of adobo sauce and a bit of sugar.

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