Remember a few weeks ago I posted about those fantastic Mark Bittman lists? Well it’s time to start the 101 days of salads! One of the things I’ve heard Mark say is that it’s all about planning. You can put together a perfectly delicious meal in 15 minutes or so, but it’s planning and making sure you have everything on hand that’s key.
And so to make this work, I’ll make sure I have my pantry stocked with the staples (good olive oil, a few vinegars, lemons, salt and black pepper, dijon mustard, soy sauce all make frequent appearances on the list). I’ve also placed the list in a word document, and every week I will choose 7 salads to copy and paste into that week’s list, which then becomes my shopping list. Here’s what I’m making this week. I’m making a Meatless Monday meal out of #84 today, with the addition of some marinated and baked tofu. I can taste the feeling good already!
1. Cube watermelon and combine with tomato chunks, basil and basic vinaigrette. You can substitute peach for the watermelon or the tomato (but not both, O.K.?). You can also add bacon or feta, but there goes the vegan-ness.
3. A nice cucumber salad: Slice cucumbers thin (if they’re fat and old, peel and seed them first), toss with red onions and salt, then let sit for 20 to 60 minutes. Rinse, dry, dress with cider vinegar mixed with Dijon mustard; no oil necessary. [UPDATE 7/30: Meh. It tasted like a herring salad minus the herring. If I make it again, I'll be adding either some herring or sardines and making it Swedish by serving it with boiled potatoes sprinkled with dill.]
22. Thinly slice button mushrooms; toss with finely chopped carrots and celery and mix with mung bean sprouts. Finish with peanut or olive oil, sherry vinegar, a little soy sauce and minced ginger. (This is a super vinaigrette, by the way.) [UPDATE 7/30: Postponed until I can get really good mushrooms worthy of a being served raw.]
92. Simmer a cup of bulgur and some roughly chopped cauliflower florets until tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Toss with chopped tarragon, roughly chopped hazelnuts, minced garlic, Dijon mustard, olive oil and lemon juice. [UPDATE 7/26: I made this on Tuesday and all the flavors were bright and unexpected. Beware if you don't care much for leftovers. A 1/4 of a head of cauliflower and a 1/4 cup of bulgur is enough for two generous sides. Also, in case you think this would be a good one to make ahead, don't bother. We had it warm and cold, and warm/room temperature was definitely better.]
46. Sauté mushrooms and shallots in olive oil. Add a lot of spinach, chopped unless the leaves are small. When it wilts, stir in parsley and crumbled blue cheese. Feels like a steakhouse side-dish salad. [UPDATE 7/26: We had this last night along with steak. Delish! Instead of spinach, I used kale...because I'm obsessed with kale. To cut down on kale's cooking time, I gave it a little massage first to break it down--a tip I learned for making raw kale salad.]
84. Spring rolls, unrolled: One at a time, soften a few sheets of rice paper in warm water. Drain, pat dry, cut into strips and toss with chopped cucumber, grated carrots, chopped cilantro, bean sprouts, chili flakes and chopped roasted peanuts. Dress with toasted sesame oil, fish sauce or soy sauce, and rice vinegar or lime juice. A few shrimp are a nice addition. [UPDATE 7/23: Had this for dinner with marinated and baked tofu. I don't think the rice paper is all that necessary...you could easily use some soba or vermicelli noodles to give this a bit more interest. I couldn't find good sprouts, so I used shredded red cabbage. That worked nicely and I'll likely do it again. In fact, I think all of these ingredients minus the noodles or wrappers would make a fun coleslaw].