We have visited a number of restaurants lately that have wonderful salads - with equally fabulous price tags and portions that are rather, um, disproportionate! Who really needs that much salad? Many of the salads are made with very few ingredients and can be made relatively inexpensively at home. If you have a favorite restaurant salad, try copying the recipe and see what you come up with!
I enjoy making salad at home, especially on these warm nights. I never thought much of it, but a new acquaintance recently asked me for the recipe for our favorite lettuce salad, so I told her I'd post it here and she could take it from there! There is nothing especially difficult about making salad if you have a well stocked veggie drawer or a handy garden. Even a simple salad (just before that grocery or farm market run when the drawer is almost empty) is refreshing.
Salad for Supper
In the morning, I decide what my 'protein' will be - often I marinate chicken breasts in salad dressing, a nice London broil steak or pick up some fresh fish - usually salmon. My Historian takes care of the grilling when he gets home from work. Bacon also is a nice addition, but overwhelms other flavors, so use sparingly; sliced boiled eggs are good too! The possibilities are endless! Obviously, we are not vegetarian, but since I put the meat on a plate for each one to take as they please, it suits each one's personal preferences - we have two big meat eaters and two who can 'take it or leave it'!
Toast 1/2 cup of mixed nuts, almond slivers, chopped pecans, walnuts etc. and 1/4 to 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds, sunflower nutmeats, sesame seeds, pine nuts or cashews. Be creative here or just use what you have on hand. We put these in a dish to sprinkle at will and there are never any toasted nuts leftover - we all like them!
We also like plump raisins, dried cherries or dried cranberries at different times with different meats - again, just get creative!
Be sure to put your salad plates in the freezer for an hour or so - there's nothing like a cold plate to keep your salad crisp!
The Basic Salad
one large head of romaine lettuce, washed and torn into bite sized pieces
iceberg lettuce, spring garden mixed greens, mesculan or spinach washed and torn
1/2 of a cucumber cut in strips
2 large fresh carrots, sliced thinly or coarsely grated
sugar snap peas, washed and cut into 1/2" slices
red cabbage, thinly shaved or grated
2 stalks fresh celery, sliced (optional)
red or orange pepper cut into nice shapes
cherry tomatoes or sliced tomato (on the side please, I'm allergic!)
*** add or take away any veggie you like in a salad - my Historian likes the addition of red onions, but they stay on the side around here!
1 can of mandarin oranges drained and chilled
1 cup of crunchy Chinese noodles
1 can of sliced water chestnuts, drained
Cheese of choice - we like fresh grated Parmesan, or Romano with chicken. We prefer crumbled feta with salmon and we like sharp cheddar with bacon. Often we skip the cheese and just add a few more nutmeats!
Our salad tonight was The Basic + Grilled Marinated Chicken + Grated Parmesan + Mandarin Oranges + Toasted Slivered Almonds
Kelsey's Sonoma Valley Salad starts with The Basic + Feta Cheese + Raisins + Toasted Pumpkin Seeds + Toasted Pecans + Grilled Salmon
Uno's Oriental Salad begins with The Basic + Grilled Lemon Garlic Chicken + Mandarin Oranges + Chinese Noodles
Applebee's Chicken Caesar is even simpler - Romaine + Grilled Chicken + Croutons + Parmesan Cheese
Bob Evan's Frisco is The Basic + Fried Chicken Tenders + Cheddar Cheese + Bacon + Tomatoes + Red Onions
Cracker Barrel had a great salad - The Basic + Grilled Chicken Tenders + Dried Cranberries + Toasted Pecans
I'm sure you can see just how simple this is! You don't really need a recipe - just raid the crisper and come up with your own refreshing salad supper! It's never the same salad twice at our house!
I don't use dressing, but I keep a few nice dressing choices on hand for the rest of the family! I used to make them all from scratch, but that is one of the things that I just don't do anymore - we find organic dressings in the cold section of the veggie department and that just works fine!
Addition: Donatos Pizza just sent an add with a tasty looking salad combination that we'll have to try too!
Romaine + Grilled Chicken Breast + Red Apples + Blue Cheese Crumbles + Honey Roasted Pecans + Dried Cranberries + Bacon