Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Salad Head

I don't know about you, but about this time of year, I am completely over heavy holiday food.  I start craving vegetables, and salads sound really delicious!  Growing up, my Aunt Robyn was (and still is!) the salad queen.  In fact, she used to call herself "Salad Head".  I could eat bowls and bowls of her salad - it truly tasted better than salad made by anyone else.  I still think it's magic.  I found this picture from when I visited Aunt Robyn for the weekend back when I was about six.  We did art together, and here you can see our creations.  I made a fish in an aquarium, and she made (what else?) a "salad head" self portrait - can you see the lettuce head with the carrots hanging down?! 

Aunt Robyn has always been my salad inspiration, and I've been channeling her lately since my goal has been to have a salad for lunch most days of the week.  Salad making is an art, so here's what I've learned, mostly from my salad muse:

Salad Head Tips:
  • Always toss the salad in the dressing rather than drizzling dressing on top.  This is the ORIGINAL salad head tip.  My Aunt Robyn ALWAYS tosses the salad with the dressing, and it just tastes so much better.  This actually allows you to use less dressing, and it ensures that all the ingredients are mixed and there is a bit of dressing on every piece.  Don't be lazy.  Toss it in a big mixing bowl, then put in your salad bowl.
  • Include some sort of protein on your salad.  A little chicken, lean beef, shrimp, or chick peas is key.  If I don't have protein in my salad, I'm going to be hungry in approximately ten minutes. 
  • Be creative with lettuce.  Lettuce is the common denominator in most salads.  I find that I like my salads so much more if I vary my lettuce.  For example, I buy romaine hearts and thinly slice them into ribbons.  I also like the "butter lettuce" variety.  Or.... don't use lettuce at all!  Make a whole grain salad with quinoa or bulgar or use green beans instead of lettuce like I did here in my Tuscan tuna salad.
  • Be creative with veggies and fruit.  I look around the produce section and imagine new salad ingredients.  I use eggplant, zucchini, asparagus, squash, bell peppers, strawberries, raspberries, apples, pears... there's more to life than carrots and tomatoes.
  • Be picky about dressing.  I know it's convenient to buy salad dressing, but most of it is just not that good (and not that healthy).  I take the time to either make my own dressing or buy a nice, fresh, natural, and/or organic brand.  (I like the ones refrigerated in the produce section.) 
  • Mix raw and cooked; hot and cold.  A salad doesn't have to be all cold and raw.  Why not roast some veggies and put them, still warm, on your salad?  Similarly, warm grilled shrimp goes great on a cobb salad. 
  • Make sure every salad has something "good".  Veggies are great, but I'm just going to be honest with you... I am never going to get excited about a bowl of lettuce and carrots.  If I'm going to make salad eating a habit, there has to be something delicious in there.  That's why all of my salads have something "good" like cheese or salami mixed with a healthier meat like turkey.  It's not going to ruin the health factor.  I'm still eating at least 70% veggies and 30% meat and cheese, but that small amount of "good stuff" makes the salad infinitely more appealing.
Here are three salads I've made and loved lately!  Hope they inspire you!

Italian Antipasto Salad:
Thinly sliced romaine hearts (there's a bunch of lettuce under there... promise)
Sliced tomatoes
Sliced cucumbers
Chopped deli turkey
Sliced salami
Chopped provolone cheese
Spicy banana pepper rings
Hoagie hot pepper spread
Balsamic Vinaigrette

Roasted Veggie Salad:

Butter lettuce mix
Roasted asparagus
Roasted butternut squash
Roasted eggplant
Half of a sauteed chicken breast
Crumbled goat cheese
Balsamic Vinaigrette

Steak Salad: (sorry, it was so good I forgot to take a picture!  Here's an example of what it might look like.  Just imagine that it is not on a piece of bread and there are strawberries on top)

Romaine leaf lettuce
Sliced cucumbers
Sliced lean grilled or broiled steak
Low fat blue cheese
Sliced strawberries
Sliced pears
Balsamic Vinaigrette

Love you, Aunt Robyn!  Hope you can make me a salad and maybe do art sometime soon!


Elicia said...

Salad sounds so good to me right now. Here is my fav (since you were wondering...ha!) Spring mix or spinach, tear drop tomatoes, pepitas, herbed chevre cheese, craisins, avocado and balsamic or red wine vinaigrette. :) Sooo good!

Liz said...

TOTALLY agreed. I've wanted a good salad the last couple days. I'm gonna do a grocery store run tomorrow! WHOOT. Thanks for the inspiration. XOXOXO

Marisa Frizzell said...

Ok, Aunt Robyn looks so much like your sister in that last pic!! Obviously they're related, but my goodness, it freaked me out a little!

Maggie said...

Love the oldie pics - you were (and still are) so cute! :)

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