Situational Vegetarian – “Simple” Salad
Sometimes, you just want a salad. Maybe you are feeling like a lighter meal meal because the weather has gotten too warm for a roasted chicken. Maybe you are trying to shave off a few pounds for a special occasion. Maybe you are a situational vegetarian in need of a different dinner. This “Simple” Salad is a good start in traditional green salads with a lot of room for variation and personalization.
- 1 Medium Carrot
- 1 Head Romain Lettuce, at least 3 ribs of romaine
- 1 small shallot
- 1 stalk of celery (omitted in the pictures)
- 1 Lemon
- sliced almonds, walnuts, or pine nuts
- Handful of dried cranberries (Omnivorous swap – 1 slice prosciutto)
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Red Wine Vinegar
Step 1. Assemble your mis-en-place.
Step 2. Put a small pot over low heat with 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar and 2 tablespoons of sugar. If you have them just laying about, some fennel seeds and a few cloves wouldn’t be bad. Omnivore option – Preheat your oven broiler.
Step 3. Using a vegetable peeler, peel off strips of the carrot. Once you have a nice handful, place the strips of carrot in the quick pickling mixture you have made in the small pot. Let them sit until further notice. It ought to take at least 15 minutes
Step 4. Peel the shallot and make a fake dice by making radial slices into the shallot and then slicing the shallot perpendicular to those slices. It doesn’t look like much, but it will pack a lot of punch in the end.
Omnivore option – Place prosciutto slice on a baking rack in the oven.
Step 5. Repeat the process in Step 4 with the celery. Or omit the celery. Your call.
Step 6. Take your ribs of romaine lettuce and prepare them for salad. In classical french tradition, you will cut the fiberous center rib out of the leaves. Tear these leaves into bite sized pieces with your hands and place them in the mixing bowl.
Omnivore Option – Check on your prosciutto. If it looks red and leathery, remove from the oven If it still looks like a piece of prosciutto, leave it under the broiler but keep checking it every minute or so.
Step 7. Prepare the dressing From scratch. Yes, from scratch. It is easy.
Step 7A. Pour 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil into a small bowl.
Step 7B. Roll the lemon against the cutting board with the palm of your hand. Cut the lemon in half and squeeze one half of the lemon into the bowl with the olive oil.
Step 7C. Using a fork, mix these two ingredients as if you are scrambling an egg. If you are feeling confident, add a few herbs in here, like dried oregano, basil, thyme or other flavors you enjoy.
Step 7D. Taste. Add a pinch of salt and a grind of black pepper if desired .
Step 8. Add the diced carrots and shallot to the lettuce if you have not already.
Omnivore option – Your prosciutto had better be out of the oven by now.
Step 9. Drain the quick pickled carrots. Taste and marvel at your skills. Add them to the bowl.
Step 10. Spoon the dressing around the edges of the bowl. You won’t need much.
Step 11. Mix the salad with our hands, or some other inferior utensil.
Step 12. Add the dried cranberries and nuts.
Omnivore option – crumble the now dry prosciutto into what can only be described as bacon bits of the gods. Use instead of the cranberries.
Step 13. Enjoy.
If you are still reading this, you probably can see where easy swaps can be made. Spinach has more flavor but less crunch for the salad. Dried apples instead of the cranberries can also be tasty. If you want to make this a more substantial salad, it is easy to add 2-3 ounces of medium rare steak, half dozen grilled shrimp, marinated firm tofu chunks, or whatever else your heart desires. As far as serving, bowls are the most common, but try spreading it out on a white plate just to be able to see the beauty of the salad and also to prevent too much dressing from pooling on the bottom and oversoaking the end greens.