In general, I do not do food related posts. Mostly because I would rather eat the food than talk about it. Also, I lack the foodie vocabulary and resort to derivatives such as “OMGYUM!” to describe food. How a post can only consist of NOMS and DELISH, I don’t know. Hence, other than the occasional Taiwan food posts, I don’t do recipes, restaurant reviews, etc. Also, I am usually too busy eating and don’t remember to take a picture until the majority of the meal is in my belly. Sorrynotsorry.
Regular readers may also be under the impression that I don’t cook or hate to cook. I’m actually a pretty good cook – but not the kind you write home about. And certainly not the kind to follow recipes. I am the open-the-fridge-crap-what-do-we-have-that-can-turn-into-food type of cook. Which is good in the impulsive, not restricted to recipe way, but really bad for menu planning and any sort of long term food planning. As a result, I also waste a lot of food.
In general, I take after my mother in the sense that if something takes longer than 30 minutes to prepare, we are probably only going to be eating it at a restaurant or someone else’s house. That’s why I usually make soups, salads, and sandwiches. (Ok, I forget about salads and sandwiches because I never grew up with them as real meal options, but I’m trying to eat better so they’re back on the radar.)
As you may know, I host a lot of playdates, and often, the playdates overlap with lunch. So occasionally, I will make a soup, salad, or sandwiches for everyone to share. I usually get a round of compliments, so whether they are just being polite or they actually love it, that is debatable.
However, even Hapa Papa corroborates my friends (again, I suppose he is an extremely biased reporter – especially if he ever wants to eat again), so I consider these three items my fortés.
In fact, this is how I know I make a fantastic salad. My mother, who used to hate salads and find them bland and disgusting, now loves salads. (Well, the kind I make, anyway.) When I moved back in with my mother in 2004, I was very excited because I thought I would finally have delicious home cooked meals for dinner. And I did, for a time. Then, one day, I made the mistake of introducing my mother to the salad.
She was not at all interested. And to be fair, I didn’t like most salads except for those fancy $10 salads at nice restaurants – and even then, it was hit or miss. But I knew what I liked in the salads I did enjoy, so I put them in my salads. So, I made my mom a salad and she liked it so much, she had it again for dinner the next day. And the next. And the next.
In true fact, my mother liked the ease and taste of the salads so much that for the next two years (and possibly more since I’ve moved out), she eats salads almost every night.
I was so sad because no matter how awesome my salads are, I cannot eat them every night. And I sadly waved my hot cooked meal goodbye.Despite the sad story ending, I do still make a great salad, so without further ado and prefacing and whatnot, I bring you my Surefire Formula to make an awesome salad. (I would say salad recipe, but again, I don’t do recipes. Just general guidelines.)
Awesome Salad Formula
1) Salad mix
2) Something sweet
3) Something savory
4) Something tart
5) Something crunchy
6) Something fatty
7) Something protein
8) Make it colorful
I want to say you need at least 4 out of 8 of these items to make a good salad, and if you hit more than that, you are nearing awesome. (And many of these items can be combined. Eg: bacon is both crunchy, savory, fatty, AND protein!)
Also, I would make the ratio of leaves to stuff about 1:1. So the leaves should only make up half the salad. If you have more leaves than that, it’s just too leafy for my taste. Any more than that and what you have is a fruit salad with some leaves.
To make things easy for you, I am now going to list some possible things (as idea kick starters) in each category.
1) Salad Mix – Whatever kind of leaves you like. Spring mix, baby spinach, kale, whatever!
2) Something Sweet – Almost any type of fruit (except perhaps, banana), either fresh or dried. Some sweeter vegetables.
– apples, oranges, pears, tangerines, mandarins, peaches, nectarines, grapes, strawberries, any berries, apricots, raisins, mangoes, pineapples, persimmons, pomegranate seeds, tomatoes, etc.
– corn, bell peppers, cucumbers, carrots
3) Something Savory – This is usually a combo category since nuts, meats, and cheeses all fit the bill. Pickled vegetables (eg: artichoke hearts, sundried tomatoes, olives, etc.) are a nice kick. You could also substitute savory with spicy, too.
4) Something Tart – This is also usually a combo category with the tarter type fruits (eg: oranges, pineapples, not fully ripe berries) or the salad dressing (which usually has seasoned vinegar or lemon/lime juice)
5) Something Crunchy – Again, a combo category with savory and protein. Also, vegetables.
– Seeds (pumpkin, sunflower), nuts (almonds, walnuts, pecans, candied ones are awesome, too!)
– celery (personally, not a favorite), carrots, jicama, bell peppers, corn, cucumbers, etc.
6) Something Fatty – My FAVORITE category! Includes most nuts (see above), bacon, cheeses (goat cheese, blue cheese, shoot, in a pinch, string cheese), and how could I forget about the avocado!
7) Something Protein – Usually a meat, nuts, or seeds
– bacon, salami, chicken (I like to use leftover Costco rotisserie chicken), deli meat, ham, and of course, the incredible, edible egg (scrambled, hard boiled, mostly hard boiled, over medium)
8) Make it Colorful – This is more for presentation purposes. (Well, I suppose nutritionists also say we should eat colorful foods for the antioxidants – but in my case, it is purely for the pretty.) I try to get a good range of reds, whites, greens, blues, oranges. It just pops and when things look pretty, they taste yummy! (And in the case of salads, I sometimes think they need all the help they can get.)
Then, all you have to do is add my super easy salad dressing (which of course, is also more formula than recipe):
Easy Salad Dressing Recipe
1) 1 part olive oil
2) 1 part seasoned rice vinegar
3) salt/pepper/garlic powder/white pepper to taste
4) optional: sesame oil, teriyaki sauce, soy sauce, Memmi soup base, dijon mustard
Alright, that’s it. If this takes you more than 10 minutes to make, it’s too hard! Enjoy!