I love salads. I love that you can reconfigure them a million ways. I love that you can be bad or good by just changing up the ingredients. The possibilities are endless. My recent love affair with them has been recent, knowing that I can get some good, healthy fruits and veggies in me. Most of the time I don’t feel heavy and bloated from eating one and I know if I need to workout or run I don’t have to wait as long. The best part, too, is that they are easily adaptable for different allergens that people deal with. My kids are little young to appreciate salads, but Jonathan does eat them on occasion. I was sitting in Chuy’s after church yesterday, enjoying my Mexi-Cobb salad. I had also eaten a BLT Cobb saladat Wendy’s earlier in the week. As summer scoots by, we’re going to have tons of fresh produce coming in to our garden and it hit me: Why don’t I do a new salad every week this summer?
So that’s what you’re getting, folks. My intent is to introduce a new salad every week, that will either serve 5 people for lunch or be enough to get you through 5 days of lunches. I know that sounds like a boring thing, but if it’s a salad you really look forward to and enjoy, then you will not get burned out on it. Most, if not all, of the work is done at the front end and it makes it less likely that the ingredients will not get used. I know sometimes I will buy all of the stuff to make them and then we get to lunchtime. I’m so tired that I just grab something and then I either eat the wrong kinds of things (drive thru!) or I just don’t enjoy it very much. I’m also wanting to develop some dressings that are easy to make and homemade, so you don’t have to worry about all of those funky preservatives or unpronouncable ingredients. We have 2 littles with egg allergies in our house, so I’m also looking to use dressings that don’t use mayonaisse.
Sounds great, huh? Since I was evidently on a Cobb kick last week, I’ll start my Summer Salad Series off with a some tips on how to prep your ingredients ahead of time and how to make them travel easier if you take them to lunch at work. I’ll also include a list with links to each recipe as I progress through the summer.
- Summer is a great time to shop the Farmer’s Market and get really good, fresh produce. Make it a family outing and design your salads based on what is in season. You can even get your lettuce this time of year! I’m looking forward to tomatoes in a month or 2!
- Think outside the box. Salad doesn’t just have to be Iceberg lettuce with tomato, cheese and croutons. Leave those boring salads to the restaurants! Dried fruit, nuts (if you aren’t allergic!) and even leftovers are great ideas for salads. There are no limits to what you can put in a salad!
- When lettuce is not at the Farmer’s Market, I buy a big 1 pound container from Sam’s Club. It’s an organic Spring Mix and it really goes far. They also have the same 1 pound container of Organic Baby Spinach. I look at it as a challenge and pat myself on the back when I actually finish the whole container at the end of the week.
- Prep as much as you can at the beginning of the week, maybe Sunday afternoon or evening. Things that can be done ahead of time are: making dressings, cooking meats/eggs, shredding cheese, chopping onions and veggies, and even getting Monday’s lunch ready.
- Some things cannot be prepped ahead of time. For instance, if you chop a whole avocado on Sunday, by Tuesday you are going to have a really nasty mess. I only chop what I need and then skim off the brown part right before I cut it the next time. I also don’t like the way tomatoes get in the fridge, so if you can, opt for smaller tomatoes that can be added in whole or only require a little chopping that day or the night before.
- If you are packing your salad to take it to work, try to keep the wet ingredients seperate from the dry ones. There’s nothing worse than soggy croutons or slimy cheese. When I taught, I kept all of the ingredients seperate in little containers and assembled them when it was time to eat. I got funny looks from my coworkers, but when they saw the whole thing put together, they were jealous!
- When you can, put your greens in the bowl or on the plate and then put your dressing on. In my opinion, you really only need dressing on the least flavorful ingredient. Toss the greens and the dressing and then put the other ingredients in. I think you will find you are much happier with less dressing and you will save yourself some calories.
Summer Salad Series