My grandmother’s table was always full of food. There was always more than enough and never just one thing. One of the consents was salad. She made salad every single night. I’m not sure why- perhaps to round out the meal? Maybe to get some veggies into us? Her salads were always lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and sometimes carrots and mushrooms. She had multiple dressings- and when the low-fat dressing craze hit, she had lots of those. I favored Italian dressing in those days, I think it was Wishbone. It means that I was not a child who scoffed at salad. However, I know for a fact that my grandfather did not consider salad a meal. Which might be why it was always a side at her house.
After my father moved out, my mother (who, it is well documented, is wonderful at many things but cooking is not one of them) was in charge of feeding me. That broke down like this: 2-3 nights eating at my grandmother’s house, 1-2 nights take-out or Friendly’s, 1-2 nights at a friend’s house and then another night hitting up the salad bar at our local Roche Brothers. This was when salad bars were a new concept. Mum let me put whatever I wanted into my salad on the basis that it was all healthy. So my salad bar salads had lettuce, tomatoes, cottage cheese, sunflower seeds, croutons, cheese, cucumbers, peppers, pineapple, bacon bits…. All separated of course, so that nothing could sort of run over into the other parts. I had a whole system based on the cottage cheese as a barrier. I think that salad bar at Roche Brothers was the thing I missed the most when we moved. We were clearly ok with the salad as a meal concept.
These days I’m not cooking much. It is suddenly hot here- in New England we go from cold, gray, 40 degrees and rainy to about an hour of warm, gentle spring before we plow full on into summer. We’ve hit that point here- today was easily 90 degrees. It means that people are out doing yard work, we’re out trying to wrestle the pool cover off and get the pool filled, my mother is changing her closet from winter to summer…. it’s a busy time. Plus, the school year is coming to a close so I’m rushing to finish everything before June 22nd. But I am, if nothing else, my grandmother’s granddaughter! We’ve been eating salad. I’ve made big salads each night and thrown some protein on top. Grilled chicken one night, steak another. When it’s this hot and I’m this busy, it’s hard to stand in a hot kitchen cooking and even harder to do that when juggling everything else. Luckily, my husband is in the salad as a meal club (as long as there’s some protein with it). Of course, historically, he’ll eat anything as a meal if I put it in front of him (well, except fish.).
So, no recipe today, just some guidelines.
Easy Summer Salad
1 head/box/bag of your green of choice (I like baby romaine or baby spinach or a mix. Arugula is nice too but my husband hates it.)
1 pint cherry tomatoes (if you can find both the red and the orange kind, you should get both. The orange ones are like crack, they are so good)
1 cucumber, peeled (or washed well, skin on) and sliced
sweet peppers (I use a red, an orange and a yellow), washed, seeded and sliced
Any other veggies your little heart desires. I sometimes like broccoli either raw or blanched slightly or sliced mushrooms or carrots.
Favorite salad dressing (My husband is a Ranch man. I recently found this dressing and am in love. In a way that might be potentially unhealthy.)
Some kind of protein. (I generally grill or broil or otherwise cook chicken thighs or breasts or grill some steak)
Combine all veggies in a bowl. My grandmother used a large glass bowl which I still have and use for salad. In fact, we’ve never used it for anything else except once, when I used it for green beans. It was completely disconcerting, everyone at the table was freaked out and we never did it again. It was just….. wrong.
I know I’ve been lax about posting here. I’ve also moved away from the family history part. I’m hoping to catch up on both this summer, once things slow down for the year and once I have my laptop back from the Apple store. Thanks for hanging in with me!