Vegetables Every Day

Vegetables Every Day
Carrot Tarator with Beets

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Salad Days

The phrase was coined in Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra in 1606. In the speech at the end of Act One in which Cleopatra is regretting her youthful dalliances with Julius Caesar she says: "...My salad days, / When I was green in judgment, cold in blood… “ (thank you Wikipedia).

I had to look this up, because I always though it referred to days of being young and poor. Which never made sense, because I really never associated salads with being poor. But well, I was wrong. Which can be even more dangerous than not knowing.

Anyway, salad days at my house started Memorial Day weekend. I eat salads all year, but generally a main dish type salad for lunch (which is a topic for another day). I am talking about side salads: potato salad, chicken salad, green bean salad, bean and corn salad, couscous salad… those kind of salads. Salads that are convenient to take to the park for a concert on the lawn. Or the beach should the sun come out.

I also realized that I pretty much just use 3 different dressings for these kind salads: creamy dressing, lemon (or other citrus) & olive oil, or vinegar & olive oil. Various herbs or spices added as desired.

Creamy dressing is just a variant on mayonnaise. If I were the type to make homemade mayonnaise, I would just use that.  But raw eggs still scare me... and even if I'm OK with them, I'm not comfortable about serving them to guests.  So this is what I use:  A small spoonful of mayonnaise, a big spoonful of plain (preferably 2% Greek) yogurt, and a forkful of Dijon mustard. Maybe add some pepper. Mix together with the mustard fork. That’s it. How much depends on how much you need. Doing 1 egg salad sandwich, it will be a small spoon. Doing potato salad for a crowd? BIG spoon.

So a couple of notes on the yogurt. For the yogurt haters out there, you won’t know it’s there. At least nobody has mentioned that my potato salad tastes different than mom’s, and I use at least half yogurt, she uses all mayonnaise. However, one problem with using “normal” (not Greek) yogurt, is that you can get some water separating off. It’s ok at first, but in a day its really noticeable. This is not a problem with Greek yogurt, or plain yogurt that you have strained some water off of by putting in a strainer lined with a coffee filter or double thickness cheese cloth (which is how Greek yogurt is made). And last, the ratio between mayonnaise and yogurt is not that critical. If you are watching calories and/or sodium, use more yogurt. If you not sure about the whole yogurt thing, start with more mayonnaise (and gradually increase the yorgurt…)

Chicken Salad

This works with left-over roasted chicken (or turkey), or with chicken breasts simmered in chicken broth. I usually use grapes in the summer and apples in the winter (leave the skins on the apples) -- red apples look nicest.

About 4 servings

2 cups cooked chicken (2 - 3 half breasts)
1 cup seedless grapes or 1 - 2 apples, chopped
1/2 cup walnuts
2 ribs celery, sliced (optional)
1-2 green onions, thinly sliced

½ cup Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
salt (to taste -- 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon)
pepper (to taste -- not too much)

Shred or cube chicken. Mix in fruits and vegetables. Mix remaining ingredients in small bowl. Pour dressing over chicken mixture, stir to combine. Serve chilled.

Potato Salad Like Moms

Serves 8 normal people, or 6 Normans.

8 medium potatoes, ~3 pounds (I like red potatoes for this, russets will work too)
5 hard-boiled eggs
½ onion, minced
Salt, Pepper

7 ounces Greek yogurt (1 container)
¼ cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Parsley, paprika as garnish

Boil the potatoes whole, with the skins on. Cook until just tender, which will be 15 – 25 minutes after they come to a boil. Remove from the water, and let cool. Peel the potatoes. If they are thin skinned, ok to not peel completely.

Make the dressing and set aside. Peel the eggs, set aside the prettiest one.

Make the salad in layers: Slice 2 potatoes into a large bowl, add one chopped hard-boiled egg, sprinkle with some onion, a little salt, and some pepper. Repeat until all of the potatoes are used.

Add part of the dressing. Stir to mix. Add a bit more, until its right (this will vary depending on what kind of potatoes, how warm they are, and how much dressing you like… Mom does not like too much dressing!)

Gently smooth the top, and put slices from the last egg on top, along with some parsley and paprika to garnish.

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