Salad in its infinite varieties can fill the gap in at-home cooking
Salad has been on my mind and my plate ever since the work-from-home order went into effect.
Being home, and within steps of my kitchen, I can make a salad anytime I want. I love the many types of lettuce available at most grocery stores and markets, except kale. Kale I can eat in small doses, usually as part of a mesclun.
When working in the office, my brown bag rarely included a salad. I found the question of whether to dress the salad ahead of time or at work too messy of a problem. Literally. And there was always a chance of a stray leaf of lettuce hitting my blouse while eating at my desk. Ugh.
Salad at home, close to the kitchen, takes on whole new uses. I can grab a handful for a lunch side salad, set out enough for a dinner salad with grilled salmon or chicken or use some to add crunch on a sandwich. Easy.
What's even better is what salad can do for leftovers.
For dinner one night, I set out a plate of greens and topped them with reheated warmed lentils. You can also use chili or just a beef patty. Anything can be made into a salad. If you want to add an easy protein, try a hard-boiled or freshly fried egg. Or add a can of drained beans and cold, cooked potatoes.
One of my favorites is a hamburger salad: grilled meat or a veggie patty on an undressed salad. Dress the burger with mustard and ketchup or mayo to taste. The juices from the burger and condiments meld into a delicious dressing for the entire plate. Yum.
My base salad is torn romaine or baby spinach with equal parts spring mix tossed in, plus thinly sliced red onion and slices of baby portobello mushrooms. The varieties of lettuce readily available are many. Choose what you like. I put enough for three days or so in a glass container with a lid in my fridge for easy access.
This recipe came about when I wanted a salad for dinner. I also had my mind on the fresh, yet crunchy salads served in Mediterranean restaurants, thus the chopped onion, tomato and cucumber. I used boxed croutons, but if you're into frying up croutons, this is an excellent use for them.
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1 can of garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1½ cups chopped tomatoes
1½ cups chopped cucumber
¾ cup chopped red onion
1 clove garlic, pressed
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
3 to 4 cups chopped romaine lettuce
½ cup torn fresh basil leaves
Boxed or fresh croutons for serving, optional
Drain and rinse the garbanzo beans and set in a medium-sized bowl. Chop tomatoes, cucumber and onion in like sizes and add to the bowl of beans. In a separate bowl, whisk the garlic, vinegar and oil and season with salt and pepper. Pour over bean mixture and fold in. Mix gently until all the beans and vegetables are covered in the dressing. Set aside and let marinate for half an hour or overnight in the fridge.
Set out a plate of salad greens and top with the bean and vegetable mixture with dressing. Add croutons if using.
Note: Add 1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard to the dressing for more of a French vinaigrette.