My friend Elena once set a clear and simple personal goal: eat a salad everyday. The resolution was straightforward and easy to measure, exactly as a doable goal should be. Elena’s idea was that by committing to a daily dose of green, she was assured of a healthy injection — no matter what the rest of the day brought.
I love salads – and I love this idea. It checks so many boxes. Salads are affordable and generally good for you. You can change them up daily, creating something substantial and rich in protein, or something light and refreshing. They’re seasonal, portable and naturally stress-reducing. All that crunching takes your mind off life’s realities.
This week, I’ve got three comforting and filling salads that will start your new year off right. Enjoy.
The Deconstructed Cobb
Dating back to its founding at Hollywood’s Brown Derby in the 1930s, the Cobb is the original big salad, and busting up its signature ingredients makes for a fun presentation. Here, I’ve got sliced pan-roasted chicken breast, chopped boiled egg and avocado ready to join fresh greens and chunks of bleu cheese in a small vintage casserole dish. On the side, serve a cruet of bleu cheese or other creamy dressing. Here’s my recipe for homemade buttermilk ranch:
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup Greek yogurt
1 clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Creole mustard
¼ cup crumbled feta or bleu cheese
½ teaspoon Kosher salt
Several turns fresh cracked black pepper
Add all ingredients to a food processor and mix briefly until combined. Cheese should still be chunky. Serve over fresh greens. Store for up to one week in refrigerator.
The Red & White
When you’re in a hurry, there’s nothing easier than this refreshing five-minute salad. First, make a quick vinaigrette using the classic 2:1 combination of oil-to-vinegar. If you have time, add salt and pepper, a peeled, slightly mashed garlic clove, chopped fresh herbs and a teaspoon of Dijon mustard.
Toss fresh greens in an appropriate amount of vinaigrette. Add canned cannellini beans, sliced grape tomatoes and fresh goat cheese. Serve.
Preparation for quinoa is no more complicated than that of rice. In fact, it cooks faster. The protein-rich grain is a great base for salads, pairing well with citrus, beans, chopped vegetables and lots of other ingredients. Here, it’s joined by southwest flavors, yielding it a yummy lunchtime meal or nice side dish for taco night.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small or ½ medium yellow onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons seeded chopped jalapeño
2 cups cooked white quinoa
½ cup canned black beans
½ cup frozen corn, thawed to room temperature
½ cup chopped fresh tomato
1 ripe avocado, diced
Cumin-lime dressing (recipe follows)
Fresh parsley or cilantro for garnish
In a medium skillet, heat olive oil to medium high heat and sauté onion, garlic and jalapeno until soft but not browned, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat. In a bowl, combine quinoa, sautéed vegetables, black beans, corn, tomato and avocado. Pour in dressing and toss gently. Serve immediately and garnish with fresh parsley or cilantro.
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (about one lime)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon orange juice
1 tablespoon honey
½ teaspoon cumin
Salt and pepper to taste
Whisk all ingredients in a bowl and combine well, ensuring honey is thoroughly incorporated.