Tag Archives: lettuce

Three Salad Ideas for the New Year

Gentle Readers, may those among us who did not strap on the cookie jar like a feedbag cast the first baked good. It’s New Year’s Resolution time again, and I’ve got a few. I’ve extended the deadline on my one pull-up resolution of 2012. Don’t be a hater, they are very very hard. 2013 will be my year.

2013 will be the year of the pullup. I swear.

2013 will be the year of the pullup. I swear.

Also, if you know someone precise, someone who likes exact measures, let’s say an engineer, and she places a scale in front of your cookie cabinet, that is so not holiday feng sui. Just saying. I will not name names here, but will simply call her 5FeetofFury.

Chicken Jolt Salad with Espresso Cheese, Apples, and Dijon-Sherry Vinaigrette

Chicken Jolt Salad with Espresso Cheese, Apples, and Dijon-Sherry Vinaigrette

Back on point, it’s salad time here at Team Practical Cook. We’re all tired of rich food at this point. Here are 3 salad ideas to get you started:

1. Caesar Salad with Fried Onions: While you think this is not a health food, read on. The trick here is to use a lot of lettuce, not so much dressing, and something different for the crunch. That’s the point. The fried onions from Trader Joe’s are extremely satisfying, and not a complete calorie bomb. I like their dressing too. The Practical Cooks Jr are both big fans of onions instead of croutons because the salad is easier to eat. And that is really the point, isn’t it?

Trader Joe's Romano Caesar Dressing, I Heart You

Trader Joe’s Romano Caesar Dressing, I Heart You

2. Just Add Fruit: Dried or fresh, nothing brightens up greenery like something sweet. I find the combination satisfies my hunger and keeps me from craving other forms of sweetness. I’ve been on a blackberry and toasted almonds kick lately, but always keep dried cranberries and Honeycrisp apples on hand. Also, orange sections or mango chunks: both pair well with leftover salmon or tuna.

Blackberries and Toasted Almonds on Herby Greens FTW!

Blackberries and Toasted Almonds on Herby Greens FTW!

3. Salad Bar: This is not a new concept, I think the 80s got the patent on this one (remember when Wendy’s and Pizza Hut relied on this to lure you in for lunch?). However, it works at home and is worth a reminder. Buy 2 types of lettuce (or spinach plus lettuce) and let the people choose A vs B. It works. It’s not “eat a salad or leave the table,” now it’s “which one do you prefer?” Stay with the basic formula, greens, something sweet, something crunchy, something salty/cheesy, and ranch for emergencies.

Take it from the pros like Whole Foods, Salad Bars work.

Take it from the pros like Whole Foods, Salad Bars work.

So my journey into 2013 begins. What’s your resolution? Or your favorite salad? Post a comment below, or Tweet my way!

Send your digital scales to someone else. For questions, comments, or strokes of brilliance, email me at practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today!)

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Coming up Friday, First Time Fast Foodies.

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Filed under One Ingredient Three Ways, Recipes

One Ingredient, Three Ways: Salad Edition

Gentle Readers, as Star Wars informs us, there must be balance in the force. In a life full of bacon, there must be some salad. The Practical Cook is actually a fan of salad, salad of all stripes. This challenges comes from @convertiblelife as she is working on a month of salads. My parameters are broad, doesn’t have to be iceberg with ranch. In fact, I can promise you it won’t be. And why stop with one salad when you can have a trifecta?

Grilled Veggie Salad, Potato Salad, Spinach Salad with Gorgonzola and Strawberries

Grilled Veggie Salad, Potato Salad, Spinach Salad with Gorgonzola and Strawberries

Honestly, I could eat salad every day. I do most days. I did today. See above. See below.

The Corporate Lunch Salad: Dismantle the veggie sandwich and add it to the mix!

The Corporate Lunch Salad: Dismantle the veggie sandwich and add it to the mix!

And now, One Ingredient, Three Ways: Salad Edition (fine, salad is not technically an ingredient, let us call it artistic license):

Simple Seasonal Salad with a Moroccan Twist: Romaine lettuce, toasted almonds, mango, goat cheese, and chopped dates (not bacon!)

Simple Seasonal Salad with a Moroccan Twist: Romaine lettuce, toasted almonds, mango, goat cheese, and chopped dates (not bacon!)

1. Fruit Salad. From my awesome SIL, the key is not to mix the fruit till the last possible second. And grapes take up space. You’re welcome, you can now attend potlucks with ease and confidence.

Look to the left of the carbs for the beautiful fruit salad.

Look to the left of the carbs for the beautiful fruit salad.

2. Rainbow Orzo Salad. This is a reminder that a pasta or grain salad does not have to drown in dressing or salt. You can make something healthy and colorful with a fantastic chew.

Orange Salmon, Broiled Asparagus, Accidental Butternut Bulgar

Orange Salmon, Broiled Asparagus, Accidental Butternut Bulgar

3. Green Salad Guidelines. Something green, something sweet, something crunchy, something salty. Toss with either Balsamic and Olive Oil, or a Sherry Vinaigrette. Example: mixed baby greens, dried cranberries, walnuts, goat cheese. We’ve served this in TPC kitchen for years, it is the house salad. Simple, easy to eat, delicious.

Blueberry Herb Salad: This picture just makes me want to eat it again.

Blueberry Herb Salad: This picture just makes me want to eat it again.

Look for more salad guides upcoming. I love the idea of 30 days of salad. I will confess that our salads have a lot of real bacon bits on them right now. You have your leftovers, I have mine. What’s your house salad? Post a comment, and yes, I’m talking to you.

Simple yet delicious, The Practical Cook's House Salad.

Simple yet delicious, The Practical Cook's House Salad, in Variation.

Email your pictures, queries, and challenges to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today!)

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Coming up Friday, Round 3 of Bacon Brackets: Local Edition!

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Filed under One Ingredient Three Ways, Recipes

Summer Rolls, and You Can Too (with video)

Gentle readers, today’s video features a very special guest, The Practical Cook Junior. In an effort to prove that you can both cook and convince the junior members on your team to cook and eat, too, TPC Junior kindly agreed to demonstrate the proper summer roll making technique. It is very hot this week, and you’re probably noticing a theme.

Not only is the fridge laden with veggies, I’m not in the mood for a hot soup. The full dinner menu was stir-fry and rolls, the rolls added because all of the veggies I wanted to use wouldn’t fit in the pan. Summer rolls are a great way to use up a bit of this and that, and to leave a bit of this and that for other uses.

Summer Rolls Recipe

The only special ingredient you’ll need are the wrappers, which are sold dry, in the Asian section of your supermarket. I would recommend buying the smaller size, if you have a choice. You’ll see why. Roll the instructional video:

3 to 4 spring rolls skins (yeah, and it feels like skin, too)
a few ounces small noodles, cooked (traditionally vermicelli or cellophane noodles, but I used Somen noodles, which I had on hand, and they were fine, angel hair pasta would work, too)
1/4 block of extra-firm tofu, cut into matchsticks
1 cucumber, seeded and cut into matchsticks (if available!)
1 carrot, peeled and cut into matchsticks
a few lettuce leaves
a few sprigs of cilantro, tough stem ends removed
peanut sauce for dipping (I used commercial, still in the test kitchens perfecting a recipe, please send one if you have one you love)

Tofu Matchsticks

Tofu Matchsticks

1. Soak the skin, one at a time, in a shallow container of cool water.

Cooked Noodles

Cooked Noodles

2. When the skin is pliable, remove to a plate or other work surface and add fillings, being careful to not overfill. Don’t add more than you would see in an egg roll. This is NOT a burrito, people.

Cilantro, Lettuce, Carrots in Matchstick Form

Cilantro, Lettuce, Carrots in Matchstick Form

3. Fold the ends up, then tuck the skin around the filling, and roll. Slice into sections, eat.

Summer Rolls

Summer Rolls

And these things are expensive to buy out, but they are really that easy. You can shove any variety of crunchy and soft items in there. Everything tastes good with peanut sauce. Except shrimp, which would kill me. Feel free to add some if they won’t kill you.

Perfect side item for stir-fry or any Asian-themed dish you’ve got planned. Have you ever made summer rolls? What do you like in them?

Send greetings and thoughts and peanut sauce recipes to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Like, like, like! Press “like” on Facebook today!)

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Up next, Kitchen Tool Talk!

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Filed under Punt!, Recipes