summer salad

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“You’ve been slacking on the blog,” I was chastised this past weekend. “I am,” I agreed, “but I have been eating a lot of salad and I can’t take pictures of that.”

But, really, I can. And so I did.

This weekend brought the first promise of what is to come – a sultry summer in the city. Sure, we’d had that freakish 90-degree day last month, but that’s what it was – freakish. When the temperature and the humidity level are about the same and it’s May, it’s not freakish. It’s a harbinger.

Today wasn’t as miserable as yesterday or the weekend, but a cold supper seemed like a good idea anyway.

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Our starting point. This is a 4.5 quart bowl, I think. I’ve long since gotten rid of the packaging. But it’s the largest bowl I own that I can reasonably fit in the fridge and isn’t currently being used as a fruit bowl.

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One medium head of red-leaf lettuce. I happen to really like iceberg – which lost a bit of its bad reputation after Saveur ran a feature on it last year – but it’s been very expensive and very pitiful of late. So foo-foo lettuce it is. I like red-leaf lettuce; it’s buttery and soft but still has decently crunchy ribs.

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Throw in three small head of broccoli. These were peeled, microwaved, then shocked in a bowl full of ice and water and left until cool. Hence the pretty color. Raw broccoli is fine, too – I certainly nibble enough of it while prepping – but I like it cooked better. Mind you, I barely cook my broccoli and it still has snap.

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Throw in a couple of kirby cukes…

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… a few carrots…

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… and some celery, all traditional salad ingredients.

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I’ve been adding apple to my salads for decades. Fruit in general makes a good addition – dried or fresh. Cranberries, orange, pears, plums, grapes, raisins, and berries all work. It’s a good flavor and texture complement, looks nice, and it’s a great way to get rid of fruit (especially apples) not awesome enough to eat plain and not quite far gone enough to cook. This empire apple is perfectly fine, by the way.

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Leftover vegetables are awesome in salads, like these golden beets. Which are, in addition, very pretty. I love beets, but they take so long to make in the oven. I should figure out how to make them in the microwave, or if that’s possible.

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The white cube-ish bits are jicama and ricotta salata, which is a great salad cheese and one of the only ones I’m comfortable putting in the salad proper and not adding on top later as I would with, say, feta or asiago, which tend to get very sad sitting in a bowl with vegetables that are mostly water.

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Side view. Don’t worry; it’ll be gone by the weekend.

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Dinner! The green’s on the top because of the first-in/last-out principle.

Of course, this pile of nutrients is all well and good, but a couple of bits of cheese does not a complete meal make. Adding protein to salads is easy.

Beans: Canned or dried beans are great in salads. I had cranberry beans in the fridge (more on those when I get around to posting about the tagine I made yesterday), but I didn’t put them in. I may do it later, but I wanted a bean-free meal after several in a row.

Eggs: An omelet on the side is fine, but my usual methods are to top a salad either with some scrambled eggs or with a sunny-side-up egg and let the yolk serve as dressing.

Meat: yes. 🙂

Nuts: Always a tasty contribution to a salad. I don’t add them until the last minute because they’ll get soft sitting in the bowl overnight.

Fish: tinned or fresh. What I went with tonight, namely some of the leftover baked halibut.

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