A dear reader named Kenzie left a comment the other day asking me to do a post about how I make my salads and what I put in them. Turns out I just so happen to have “Big Giant Salad” on the dinner menu tonight! Here’s how I make a salad that will knock your (and maybe even someone else’s!) socks off.
Step 1: Start with a beautiful head of lettuce. Something OTHER than iceberg
for crying out loud please. Red leaf is typically my head of choice, but green leaf or romaine work nicely. Don’t be afraid to throw in spinach, arugula, dandelion or other mixed field greens too if you’ve got ’em.
Optional Step 1a: If you’ll be photographing your lettuce before you tear it to shreds, take it outside where natural light is abundant. This will be your best shot at getting the best shot of this gorgeous piece of red-greenery.
Step 2: Tear up lettuce to be washed in salad spinner.
Take note! Tear lettuce in large bite-ish sized pieces OFF the spine. You’ll find no spines in my salad. Spines bad! Leaves good!
You’ll know you did it right if you’re left with this:
(Don’t eat that part.)
Repeat. And repeat. And repeat and repeat and repeat until you get to the heart of the head. Coo lovingly at those sweet little leaves in the middle that are so dang cute and tender. Rinse leaves well in your salad spinner and then start the spin cycle.
It takes me about 10 minutes or so to rip through a good sized head of red leaf lettuce and it’s worth every minute. I typically tear up a whole head at once and have a nice bowl full of greens for easy salads/sandwiches/wraps for the next couple of days. This is also the best way to ensure any head of red leaf gets eaten before it’s forgotten and is turned into a head of slimy brown leaf at the bottom of my produce drawer.
Lettuce torn up, Step 3: would be to head out to the garden to fetch yourself a fatty cucumber. (For sensitive, self conscious cucumbers, refrain from calling it a fatty and instead consider the term big boned.)
Step 3a: Try your damnedest not to sink your teeth into that thing as you walk back into the house.
Step 3b: Slice.
I don’t peel it – the skin is where all the good stuff is, yo! I’ll cut it length wise and de-seed if I’m in the mood. Friday night rowdiness around here = cucumbers with the seeds still in them.
Cucumber sliced, the carrot is next on the list to meet it’s maker. Enter Step 4.
Wondering how I took that pic if one hand is holding the grater and another hand is holding the carrot? I know you are!
Have someone else take the picture? Psssh – too predictable! What if your husband is at a party and your 6 year old is currently out of your hair and you want to keep it that way?
It’s called your chin and your chest and the timer on your camera. I do all my own stunts.
Back to Step 4. Wash carrot. Don’t peel. Grate. Eat the last little nub instead of adding “shredded knuckle” to the list of salad ingredients.
Step 5: Half a red pepper, de-seed and slice.
Step 6: Fetch yourself an organically grown tomato from your CSA stash.
Step 6a: Slice and de-seed.
Cucumber seeds? Maybe. Tomato seeds? Deal breaker. Might as well throw the whole dang salad straight into the compost. Forget it. Go eat a Big Mac, a fake milkshake, let a big ol’ belch rip and go to bed if you’re not going to cut the seeds out of the tomato.
What? Am I the only one who feels that way about tomato seeds?
If I have an abundance of time and am feeling motivated, I will chop up a ton of vegetables at once to make throwing salads together really fast and easy. If I’m feeling lazy I’ll just get the lettuce part done and pat myself on the back for being that much ahead of the game for next time around.
OK so where was I? Oh right. Step 7. Dig around for whatever other salad-ish vegetables you have in your fridge.
Step 8: Shout “rock out!” when you realize you’ve got fresh green beans to add to the mix! Chop up into 1″ (exactly!) pieces, cut off those weird little tail-y and stem-y things and throw them into the compost pile with those shunned lettuce spines and pepper and tomato seeds.
Step 9: Add a couple tablespoons of your salad dressing of choice. Mine might be smashed avocado with salsa if I’m feeling like bottled dressings are the devil (like sometimes you do). If you are feeling less resentful of bottled dressings, a few of my current favs are Organicville Miso Ginger, Annie’s Goddess Dressing or like I used tonight – Good Seasons Italian Dressing made with apple cider vinegar and canola oil.
Step 10: Put the lid on that bowl good and tight cause otherwise it’s gonna get ugly in Step 11.
Step 11: [Stock photo] I like my salads shaken, not stirred.
Step 12: Dump dressing covered salad into a large salad bowl. Take said bowl outside. See Step 1 for explanation if you’ve already forgotten why this important. If you will not be photographing your salad, just eat it straight out of the first bowl you used to toss it in like a complete heathen.
Step 13: Bring salad back inside and eat at computer while you write up this post.
Step 14: Hurry and click Publish and go check on your kids cause it’s awfully quiet up there.