When I cook, I rarely follow recipes to the letter and love the opportunity to explore favorite and new tastes and flavor combinations. As a vegetablarian, salads represent a great vehicle for my desire to explore. Like with roasting vegetables, I have developed a formula for exploring the art of making salads; my formula gives general guidelines that will support a novice cook (or aspiring vegetablarian) in making salads at the same time that it offers the seasoned cook(or veteran vegetablarian) a framework to explore new salad options. To start, I want to make sure that we don't limit ourselves by narrow definition of "salad".
1) ...can contain leafy vegetables but does NOT have to (e.g. fruit salad, pasta salad), i.e. they can contain any number of ingredients that may or may not be vegetables (however, as a good vegetablarians, the base of my salad formula will be vegetables!)
2) ...can include raw or cooked ingredients or BOTH
3) ...can be served chilled or moderate temperature or BOTH
4) ...can have a wet or dry "dressing" that is optional and can provide additional flavoring and texture
5) ...can be any part (appetizer, side, main or dessert!) of any meal (breakfast, lunch or dinner!)
Given that, here is my "formula" for scrumptious salads... There are two parts to the formula, the "salad" and the "dressing." To prepare, just add the salad to the dressing/seasoning of choice.
Let's start with the "salad" which has 5 main categories of ingredients; these categories parallel, in fact, major food groups, AND are a great way to think through what you might want in your salad!
SALAD FORMULA =
VEGETABLE(S) + (optional) PROTEIN(S) + (optional) DAIRY/CHEESE + (optional) WHOLE GRAINS + (optional) FRUIT(S)
1) Chop/prepare ingredients above. (Cook as necessary (see Roasting Veggies for vegetables))
2) Toss above ingredients in a large salad or mixing bowl (glass or stainless) with dressing (see below).
(OPTIONAL) DRESSING FORMULA =
OLIVE OIL + (optional) LIQUID SEASONING + (optional) GARLIC/ONION + (optional) HERB/SPICE
1) Chop/prepare ingredients above.
2) Toss above ingredients in a large salad or mixing bowl (glass or stainless) and add to salad (see above).
Here are some favorite examples of my tried and true versions of the "formula"...YUM!
ROASTED EGGPLANT and TOMATO and CAPERS+feta cheese (DRESSING: Olive oil+red wine vinegar+balsamic vinegar+garlic+basil+oregano)
ROMAINE+CORN+black beans+feta cheese (DRESSING: Olive oil+apple cider vinegar+garlic+cilantro)
ZUCCHINI+RED BELL PEPPER+apple (DRESSING: Olive oil+pomegranate vinegar+apple cider vinegar+basil)
KALE+Parmesan/reggiano cheese (DRESSING: Olive oil+lemon+garlic)
CUCUMBERS+TOMATOES+salmon (DRESSING: Olive oil+lemon+mustard+mustard seed+dill+parsley)
ARUGULA+AVOCADO+quinoa (DRESSING: Olive oil+balsamic vinegar+lemon+garlic+cayenne)
Do you have a favorite version of the "formula?" Don't keep it a secret! Share yours!