Salad trio

May 1, 2013

I’ve been shamed into an attempt at healthier eating, after spending 10 days with Child B and Son-In-Law 1. SIL 1 gets plumb serious about his plant-based diet (he’ll cheat occasionally, and has given seafood and Greek yogurt a permanent pass, but he’s mostly raw veggies and fruits, all the time). Child B is a little less so; she’ll eat a burger from time to time, and does not turn up her nose at red beans and rice, with their trifecta of Andouille sausage, ham and chicken. And she won’t turn down my homemade pimiento cheese, which I have made for either her or Child A, the other pimiento cheese aficionado, in a while.

OK, there's bacon. And mayo. But it's mostly healthy.

OK, there’s bacon. And mayo. But it’s mostly healthy.

So tonight, I put together a trio of salads for dinner, two of which will provide me three or four more meals apiece. Two were old standbys, and the third was a sheer wing-it exercise that turned out right well.

One old standby was a caprese. I have grape tomatos in the oven dehydrating/roasting as I type, and I’ll yank them out before bedtime as the makings for winter capreses for the next couple of weeks. I had a few left over — my big cookie sheet will fit only about 1 3/4 pounds of the two-pound clamshell, leaving not enough to do anything else with. So I took about half the remaining fresh ones, sliced ’em in half, dumped ’em on top of a couple of slices of fresh mozz, and drizzled with basil oil and truffle balsamic cream. Can’t beat it, I tells ya.

Then I decided I wanted some broccoli salad, a dish I learned to love when I was having lots of business lunches catered and one of the standbys from the top caterer in town was her broccoli salad. She didn’t give out recipes, but it was relatively easy to deconstruct. It’s about the following:

  • 3 cups broccoli florets (little, if any, stem; save ’em for veggie stock, or chunk ’em. I chunked ’em.)
  • 6 strips bacon, diced into lardons and fried until crisp, drained
  • 1 cup raisins (I didn’t have any, so I used dried cranberries, which I think I like better
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds (didn’t have any of those either, so I used macadamia nuts)

Combine in a bowl, and toss with a dressing of:

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise (I personally believe you cannot do this right with anything but Hellman’s)
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • a dash of Lawry’s seasoned salt (plain salt would do, I guess)

Whisk that until it’s smooth, pour it over the broccoli mixture, and toss until everything’s well coated. This makes enough to coat everything nicely without drowning it. 

Melissa always diced raw red onion in hers, but I don’t do raw onion, so I don’t. Your mileage may vary.

It’ll last 4-5 days in the fridge, so it’s a good one to make and have for a few days’ lunches or side dishes.

The last one I came up with out of the whole cloth, but damn, it was quite fine.

You will remember the grilled shrimps, which have been reposing in the fridge since I grilled ’em Sunday or Monday. I chopped those up, along with an avocado and the kernels from two ears of corn. Tip for cooking a couple of ears of fresh corn, when you’re anxious to get it done in a hurry and don’t want to dirty a pan to boil it, or eff with the grill to grill it. Husk each ear, wrap it in plastic wrap, stick it in the microwave and nuke it for three minutes. If you were going to eat it out of hand, you’d want to smear it down with some butter and spice of some sort, but I wasn’t, so I just wrapped it up nekkid. After it cooks — it’ll just be a nice al dente — cut the kernels off the cob and toss them in with the shrimp and avocad0 (well, actually, I waited til last thing before I cut up the avocado, since it didn’t want it to go dark on me).

Dressing for this is a simple cocktail sauce; buy the jarred kind or make your own. I tend to make my own, thusly:

  • about 1/3 cup ketchup
  • 2 generous tablespoons prepared horseradish (NOT horseradish cream or spread)
  • juice of one lime
  • about a tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce
  • several shakes of the hot sauce of your choice (I use Pappadeaux)

Whisk together, taste, add more horseradish or hot sauce if you want it, add the avocados to the shrimp and corn, and dump the sauce over and toss. 

Sweet Baby Jesus. This is some Good Stuff. The corn adds an element of sweetness that counterpoints the tangy sauce, and the shrimps are, well, just good shrimps, and the avocados add a creamy note, or would if they had been a tad bit riper than the one I used. This would make a wonderful appetizer at a dinner party, served in pretty little sherbet dishes or even in martini glasses. If you didn’t have leftover shrimp, like I did, I’d just buy the little frozen salad shrimps and use them. I had to dice up my jumbos. It would also be awesome served on a bed of butter lettuce for a nice luncheon or brunch dish.

You ‘n y’mama ‘n ’em do this. You’ll wow the table, and they will think you are marvelous. Personally, I think I’m pretty marvelous for having thought of it.

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