Could take ‘em or leave ‘em.
I don’t know why or what it is. I like lettuce. (as much as anybody likes lettuce) I like pretty much any combination of oil and vinegar. (mostly when dipping bread into it) Tomatoes, cukes...all good.
But all together? A whole salad? Not usually a huge fan. Most days I would rather have a steak. Or a loaded baked potato. Or a steak with a loaded baked potato. Hold the salad.
Here is my issue with salads. Rather… here WAS my issue with salads. They are not hot. They are not satisfying. They are messy to eat. And my issue(s) with salad(s) is (are) not necessarily in ascending order of issuance.
Temperature. I like a hot lunch. I also like a hot supper. (For the record I like a hot breakfast but salads seem like a less controversial subject before 9am) It seems like most salads are served crispy cold. Makes sense. Maybe. Cooked lettuce can be hard to pull off. But for those of us who live north of say the 45th parallel, October through March is not what you would call salad season.
Satisfying. It’s got to be a pretty dense salad for it to be satisfying. And if it IS satisfying, like a creamy grilled chicken Caesar maybe, then it’s a 1000 calories and you may as well bring back the steak. And the loaded baked potato.
Messy. Maybe it’s the years of “business banking lunch meetings” where I am trying to graciously put a ridiculously large piece of romaine lettuce in my mouth that inevitably decides to leave a souvenir in my front tooth, I don’t know. The salad tearing guy is obviously not paid by the piece so it always seems a bit clunky. I long ago moved to ordering apps that required chopsticks. Hot, satisfying and less messy.
But here is the thing. I have gotten a little older (shocking) and dare I say a little more open minded to culinary offerings. It turns out a salad DOES NOT have to be cold. (warm bacon vinaigrette anyone?) It CAN contain hearty carbs. (Israeli couscous rocks) And it does NOT have to have huge pieces of lettuce in it. (romain leaves should take a lesson from brussels leaves)
I call this my Thanksgiving salad. I know Thanksgiving is long gone – really long gone for us Canadians and just a bit long gone for my southern neighbours neighbors. This salad starts with a bed of four types of greens, all given an ice bath for 12 hours for ultimate crispness. Tossed with al dente spaghetti squash, dried cranberries, toasted pumpkin seeds and grated old cheddar this salad proved most satisfying. The kicker was the poultry seasoning dressing which gave it a turkey-day feeling.
So just like the beet sliders were in NO way beef sliders, this salad is in NO way a Thanksgiving turkey dinner (or a steak with a loaded baked potato) but...
… it’s still good. Really good. So guess that means I really am getting older.
1 head of romaine lettuce 1 small head of radicchio 2 cups of arugula 1 head of green leafy lettuce 1 small spaghetti squash, cooked and removed (shredded) from squash with a fork ½ cup toasted pumpkin seeds 1/3 cup dried cranberries ½ cup shredded aged white cheddar cheese (a soft goat cheese would work nicely as well)
For the vinaigrette
3:1 parts extra virgin olive oil and white balsamic vinegar (depends on how much you want to make) Poultry seasoning to taste Salt & Pepper
Notes: The obvious missing piece here is the turkey. You could add any protein. I kept this veggie but leftover turkey (and even some leftover stuffing) would fare well here.
1. Remove all the leaves from the heads of lettuces where applicable and place in a sink full of very cold water. Swish around allowing the dirt to settle to the bottom. Drain sink and rinse, then fill up sink again with very cold water. Let lettuce stand as long as possible, up to overnight. When ready to use, remove and dry thoroughly either with a salad spinner or clean tea towels. Tear into bite size pieces. No bigger. Nobody likes big lettuce.
2. Toss the lettuce with the spaghetti squash, toasted pumpkin seeds, cranberries and shredded cheese.
3. Just prior to serving, make the vinaigrette. Using the 3:1 oil to vinegar ratio, season with a ¼ teaspoon of poultry seasoning, salt and pepper at time tasting after until desired seasoning level is reached. Toss just prior to serving.