Saturday, September 13, 2008
My New Worknight Meal or: Play With Your Salad
Despite my best intentions I often don't cook ahead of time for busy weeknights. This means that if I don't have something ready to eat with minimal preparation I often wind up eating fast food for dinner. After years of watching my grand plans for healthy (and cheap) dining fail I have finally realized the secret to healthy eating: know your limitations and work within them. In other words, if you know you get raging hungry at 6 pm every day, plan for it. Pack something you know you will eat, or keep it handy in your fridge.
I would love to say that I eat salad on a daily basis, but that simply is not the case. Salad will not hold me for more than a few hours and it isn't interesting enough... Unless. Unless that salad has lovely ingredients in it like goat cheese, walnuts and other interesting things. Things that have protein. Things that are tasty.
I highly recommend perusing takeout menus for ideas for salads: California Pizza Kitchen, for instance, has a menu full of fabulous-sounding salad ideas. Or go to your nearest high-end grocery store or place that sells prefab, packaged salads for more ideas (i.e., Trader Joe's or similar). Read the ingredients list and steal their ideas.
All this leads to my latest discovery: Salad with Baby Beets, Goat Cheese and Toasted Walnuts. Do you think this sounds complicated? NO. Wrong. I timed myself today and made the salad in about ten minutes. The longest part was toasting the walnuts, and you can do this in advance - but I think they taste better freshly made. Here is how you do it, and the best part is that the ingredients can be purchased ahead of time and will stay fresh for over a week.
Toast the walnuts in a dry frying pan - keep an eye on them, this doesn't take long. Best stir frequently. When done, pour into a saucer and set aside.
Throw the lettuce in a bowl, chop the beets into chunks - size depending on your preference - and crumble up some cheese. Dribble over some olive oil and balsalmic (proportions: slightly more oil than vinegar) and grind some pepper over. Toss salad.
Throw walnuts on top. Eat. It's delicious and it will hold you till the next morning. If not, consider adding more cheese/walnuts.
If you don't like beets, consider adding the following to your romaine instead: green seedless grapes and feta; add chunks of chicken or shrimp (put Thousand Island dressing on top and you have Shrimp Louie!); stuff your salad, with cucumber and radish/tomato/scallion, in a pita bread and put hummus on top; make a Southwestern salad with black beans, corn and salsa. Whatever floats your boat.