Remember when “salad” meant a head of iceberg lettuce chopped up then drenched in some type of heavy dressing? That was lazy!
This is the new lazy … walk into the grocery store, head for the produce section and grab a container of fresh, washed, delicious greens.
I usually go for the “Spring Mix”, it will contain all or most of these; Baby Lettuces (Red & Green Romaine, Red & Green Oak Leaf, Red Leaf, Lollo Rosa, Tango, Butter Lettuce), Red & Green Chard, Mizuna, Arugula, Radicchio, and Baby Spinach.
This becomes your canvas, not a blank canvas, but a very colorful canvas … wonderful shades of green, red and even a little white. This earthy palette is especially appreciated during those bleak winter months here in the midwest when the predominant colors outside are grey and brown. Even the name, “Spring Mix”, gives us hope.
Now we start moving the dial from totally lazy and start heading toward the gourmet side.
I mix up a very simple dressing of extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
“Poppy, how much EVOO and balsamic vinegar do you use”?
That’s a good question. Of course it depends on the quantity of greens used!
Perhaps more important than the quantity is the proportions. I like the bite of the vinegar, so my mix is close to 1 part vinegar to 2 parts EVOO. You may prefer something closer to a 3-1 ratio. Next I add a pinch of garlic salt or sometimes Cajun seasoning. All of this is mixed in a coffee mug.
“Poppy, why do you use a coffee mug”?
That’s a good question and it involves the next step in our salad prep, adding the red onion. For a small container of Spring Mix, I will slice half of a medium-sized red onion, cut the longer slices in half then drop the onion into the coffee mug and stir everything together. Since I mix up the dressing before beginning any other food prep, this gives the onions, vinegar, EVOO and spices time to hang out together, get acquainted, talk about old times, where they went to high school and talk trash about the jalapenos and banana peppers. By the time the salad is ready for tossing they are the best of friends.
Add the contents of your coffee mug to the salad right before serving and start tossing.
Next up is the cheese, most nights this is simply parmesan, a good wedge grated either fine or coarse, your choice. You could go the lazy route and just shake the cheese out of a plastic container ( I have done this ), but fresh grated cheese is much more flavorful and doesn’t contain extras like powdered cellulose, added to prevent the cheese from caking. Of course you are not limited to parmesan … experiment with other cheeses like crumbled feta or goat cheese. Toss again and add some fresh ground black pepper.
If you do nothing else, this will give you a great salad, but remember, this is a canvas, try some marinated artichoke hearts, or tomatoes, or toasted pine nuts, or brandy poached pears, or rotisserie chicken … or all of the above!