This post is a collaboration with Williams-Sonoma, but all words and opinions are my own.
When I was growing up we would sometimes have salad with dinner. It was usually as an accompaniment to a grilled steak or chicken and during the summer months when it was much too hot, in Tucson, Arizona to be thinking about turning on the oven. My mom would often put me in charge of tossing the dinner salad together and it always had the same ingredients; iceberg lettuce, tomato wedges and sliced cucumbers. Onions were left on the side because my brother would not come withing 10 feet of them and my dad did not care for them on his salad. Break out the bottled dressing and salad was served. I never really liked salad much when I was a kid.
When I was in college, pasta salads became very popular (yes, I know that I am dating myself). Cooked, cold pasta mixed with chunks of Mozzarella cheese, cubes of pepperoni and chopped onions, sliced black olives and sometimes some peppers thrown in for good measure. Pour on some bottled dressing and voila'! Salad as a meal! Who doesn't love a good pasta salad? I haven't had one like this in quite a while. Kind of makes me want one, come to think of it.
All of this reminiscing is great, a walk down salad memory lane, if you will, but salad can be and is so much more than just a wedge of iceberg lettuce drowned in blue cheese dressing and a couple of cherry tomatoes tossed on the plate for show. Yes salad is whatever you want it to be and I think we sometimes forget that we can make almost anything into a salad.
Traditionally, salads are cold but they can be served warm or hot as well. They can be just greens dressed with a simply vinaigrette made with lemon and olive oil, or they can be full of everything but greens and lettuce. I personally love a chopped salad sans lettuce. Sometimes I just think lettuce gets in the way of all that other earthy goodness. How about throwing some cubed bread for a Panzanella or Tuscan bread salad? What about using cooked rice, Quinoa, couscous or Millet as a base for a dinner salad? The possibilities are endless!
There is really no good reason not to be eating more salad. I, for one, have promised myself that I will serve more salads, hot, cold and everything in between to my family this coming year. It is my hope that we can love this new path and use it as an opportunity to explore new combinations of ingredients that we can enjoy together at our supper table. My girls love salad! My oldest, Molly loves it however she can get it, with lots of greens or with none at all, with grilled chicken or steak, Caesar or Asian style, you name it, she loves it and actually craves salad. Not bad for a 15 year old right? My youngest is a bit more finicky but I'm working on her. Right now she will only eat salad that is made with fresh baby spinach and hard cooked eggs, she only eats the tomatoes on the side and she likes it with ranch dressing. Like I said, I'm working on her! As for myself and my husband, we both love them as well, but I just don't think about them being a meal as often as I should.
So off I go to try and make salad a bigger part of our lives. I hope you will consider this as well. We can make our lives a bit easier with salad and we can make our bodies a little healthier with them as well. The good folks at Williams-Sonoma have devised a wonderful chart along with recipes that provide a seemingly endless variety of salad recipes for us to work through. Have a look and see what you like and start eating salad tonight!
Check them out here:
Here are a couple of salad ideas that we love at our house:
Asian Chicken Salad
Ginger Sesame Dressing
Taco Salad with Homemade Chili
I hope you try these and I hope you love them! I also hope you check out the link to Williams-Sonoma and get some great ideas for salad dinners at your house!
You can see lots more recipes and ideas on my website