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Saturday, 27 July 2019

New Favourite Salad Ingredients or Save Me From a Boring Salad

I grew up with boring salads. I honestly remember leaf lettuce from the garden, diced white onion, and some sort of "cream" dressing. It was probably made from cream, a little bit of sugar, maybe a bit of vinegar. I ate it, because that's what you did.

Then I became a bit "obsessed" (lord, that's an overused word out there) with Caesar salads. It was THE THING to order from the menu. In fact, I would just have a large Caesar salad, nothing else. But it had to have real bacon on it (what are those nasty little nuggets of fake bacon??), big "homemade" croutons, a good dressing... I got into making my own, rubbing the inside of the bowl with a cut clove of garlic, washing the individual leaves of the fresh (i.e. not packaged in threes, plastic wrapped romaine hearts) romaine lettuce and getting out my little salad spinner, centrifugal forcing the water out of them like mad. When I was all worried about fat and calories, I used turkey bacon instead of real bacon (ridiculous). I might even have purchased anchovy paste for the dressing. This was back in university days, early 20's, thinking I was all chef-like and special.

But mostly, salads were tossed salads with the same old boring ingredients: lettuce, cucumber, peppers, onion, and if life was really exciting, some grated cheese. Open up one of the sixteen different bottles of salad dressing (and hope it wasn't one of the expired ones), and there you go - salad.

I also came from the era of the jello salad. Now how those could be called salads is beyond me. My Aunt Lois was the queen of the jello salad and a summer family gathering had to feature one of her famous salads. Think orange jello with grated carrot. (Uncle Ed in white undershirt and socks with sandals, husband of the Aunt Lois, would also come with a giant roasting pan filled with cabbage rolls - now THAT was memorable!!)

Where am I going with all of this? Well, here is my lettuce now:


It's doing quite well, and with frequent watering, should continue for a while. I've planted another little row, which hopefully will keep us in lettuce into August. Pretty as heck, but again, boring.

So... here's my suggestion for jazzing up boring old lettuce.


Nope, not a sponsored post (but again, Unico, etc. anytime you want to advance me some money...). Marinated artichoke hearts (I cut them up a bit), marinated sun dried tomatoes, Kalamata olives, and capers. I don't even know what capers are! Are they a seed, a bud, what plant do they even come from? Throw a few of any of these in with your lettuce, maybe crumble up some feta as well, how 'bout some red onion, slices of peppers, and maybe some Greek dressing, and BOOM!   Flavour.

These ingredients are also great with a cold pasta based salad as well (think orzo, or fusilli), or even great tossed with plain, hot spaghetti and a little pesto.

And for those of you wondering what I do with all those eggs (from the previous post)? Last night was a sausage and cheese frittata (uses up eight eggs!).


Hungry yet?

32 comments:

  1. I LOVE your salad additions. I'm not crazy about lettuce. My mothers idea of a salad was a couple of lettuce leaves with a plop of miracle whip in the middle.

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  2. Had to laugh at your description of relatives and the jello salad. I'm not sure I ever ate one but I remember them well. In fact I was thinking of trying to make one here one family gathering just for the 'what the hell' value.
    We have greek salads all the time in the summer. Think every meal. I'm damn sick of them. Tomato , ccucmber, onion, green peppers some time, maybe an olive or two, dried oregano and olive oil. Great, terrific but not ALL through summer.
    Hubby asked what we should eat on Sunday and Isaid 'salad' but what salad? To him salad is a side dish and goes with ????? everything.
    I'll use some of your ideas. We can get iceberg lettuce in the supermarket. I'll use that as a base. I love capers, they are growing all around us and this is the time of the year to pick and pickle them before they flower.....they have large thorns though. I usually buy them in a jar like yours.
    And a bit of pasta, now that's an idea. Thanks Jen

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    1. Well, I love a good Greek salad, but I can see how having one every day could wear thin after a while!!

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  3. Ah yes, those wonderful summer salads. When we have lettuce and other salad greens in the garden we eat many, many salads both as a meal (a bit of meat added and/or hard boiled egg) and as a side dish. My salads have a habit of "growing" as I make them. I start with the lettuce and other greens and then add the "good" stuff like you've mentioned. By the time I'm finished, you need a small back hoe (or 45 minutes) to plow your way through it. Always homemade dressing of various kinds except for the bottle I purchase now and then (I'm the only one who likes it) from a local restaurant.

    That egg dish looks WON-derful!

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    1. You should maybe share some of those homemade dressing recipes!

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  4. My salads are lettuce and tomato and cucumber and peppers and celery and radishes and a hard boiled egg and that's about it and maybe some beetroot if I have some ready. I like salad cream which many still buy here and there was an outcry when Heinz said they were going to stop making it a few years ago. So they didn't. To me, like Linda, a salad is a side dish, not a meal.

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    1. I remember salad cream from when I was a kid (my dad liked those kinds of things - had a Scottish / English background). Now you're making me think about hard boiled eggs. That would be good.

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  5. Yum! The fritatta looks awesome! Way to go using up the eggs. The Caesar salad, how I love thee...but we tried anchovy paste the other night and found it way too fishy. I love Greek salads too. Sometimes I just whip up whatever lettuce I have, with green onions, ham, shredded cheese, tomatoes and Kalamatas - I guess that's kind of a Chef's salad. I'm a huge fan of Ranch dressing and have yet to perfect my own, but I'm working on it! I love a Cobb salad too with blue cheese, asparagus, my homemade Mozzarella and some balsamic/Worcestershire dressing.

    I found a recipe today for Taco Pizza Squares, you put taco-like toppings on pizza dough and top it with lettuce and tomatoes, it looks pretty good and it's a different way of using lettuce! I haven't tried it yet though.

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    1. Why am I not surprised that you are attempting to make your own ranch dressing?? You are to be commended!

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  6. Shall try that frittata - looks delicious

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    1. It is just quiche without the crust. You can put just about anything in it - sliced cooked potatoes, peppers, onions, cheese, tomatoes, various kinds of sausage...

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  7. I love the freshness and crunch of the much maligned Iceberg lettuce. But I love other lettuces, too...And Greek salads with feta cheese and tomatoes and onions. Love capers and kalamata olives. My grandmother used to make jello salads and I enjoyed them, but never make them. And I love the European idea of cold cooked vegetables with dressings for salad. Lentil and onion and spinach salads. Quinoa salads. I could live on salads and a bit of meat of egg in the heat of summer. Just remembered Cobb salads with avocado chopped into them. No two salads should be alike, I think!

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    1. I love all of these comments - they are giving me new ideas, or reminding me of things I haven't had for a while! I made a lentil salad last week. It was good.

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  8. Glad you mentioned sundried tomatoes. They will go in tonight's salad for sure. I love caperberries - bigger than capers, almost like an olive, so some will go in too.

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    1. I don't think I've ever seen caperberries in the store - I may have to go looking.

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  9. Jenn, I like making salads with anything extra. I like to just throw in extras. I don't eat a lot of salad and Ted is just now getting to eat fresh veggies again. I love the frittata, I saw the previous post. Wow pretty chickens and plenty of eggs. Blessings to you, xoxo, Susie

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    1. That's good that Ted is able to eat fresh vegetables!

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  10. Good looking frittata, Jenn! The first time I ever saw something dessert-like in a savoury dish was in Chicago for a Thanksgiving where there was a marshmallow "salad" as a side dish. I could not have been more surprised...except by a carrot and jelly salad!!

    I've never really "gotten" creamy dressings, it's always vinaigrette around these parts, but I do have a good fridge rummage for ingredients and can often have well more than half a dozen things beside lettuce. Love the red non-hearting varieties like you grow.

    Capers are to be found around the Mediterranean. The little flower buds get pickled or salted. When they grow bigger they are caperberries. Taste the same, and are pickled too, but have the stalk attached. In Greece last year I saw loads of them growing in rocky gardens and even ate some leaves. I love capers!

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    1. Ha, my mother used to make a "salad" that had miniature marshmallows, mandarin oranges, cottage cheese, maybe coconut or pineapple?? I HATED it as, a child, which is strange because you would think a child would like something with marshmallows in it!
      So capers are little flower buds! Well there you go!

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  11. Great looking frittata. I SOOO remember those jello 'salads' There was a 'green one' in our family that had jello, pears, cream cheese and nuts. I used to make a pretzel 'salad' with a crushed pretzel & walnut base and cream cheese and topped with strawberries and strawberry jello. lol

    My mother used to serve us lettuce sprinkled with sugar. lol Some salad! xo Diana

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    1. Well now Diana, I might just be convinced to partake in that pretzel / strawberry salad! Oh my goodness, we might have had the same mother. Mine used to take the little green onions and dip them in sugar and eat them raw!

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  12. Capers feature regularly in my salads and most other dishes. I also buy the pre-flowering capers which usually come with a stem (and are a bit more expensive). I shall be having some tonight, combined with butter, and made into a hot dressing for a Pork chop. Lovely.

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  14. I recall Ambrosia 'salad' from my youth. I liked bits of it, but a forkful of all of it was hard to take.

    I have long since ditched iceberg for more tasty greens. Arugula/rocket features heavily in my salads these days.

    Your frittata looks very tasty, indeed!

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  15. I have done frittatas or what I call egg bakes with sausage and vefggies from the fridge. How nice to have a fresh supply of eggs to do these. And yes, salads can be boring, but your suggestions are all good ones, Jenn. We usually add olives, roasted peppers and cheese to ours.

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  16. I love making different salads as I am vegetarian ,my favourite last Summer was Cous Cous salad with cucumber, capsicum, tiny tomatoes, flaked almonds, etc. Plenty of variations on the net to try.
    Potato salad with hard boiled egg, celery,spring onion is a meal in itself. Greek or Ceasar salad is great when it's too hot to eat much.

    It is so lovely to pop out into your own garden and pick some fresh lettuce leaves while you think about what to add for a tasty, healthy meal.

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  17. Oh thank goodness I missed that trend of jello salads! (col) I'm adventuring into salads this summer as some of my posts reveal - yes to a movement of salads beyond the leaf. OK not totally beyond the leaf as I do enjoy a good Caesar salad. #beyondtheleaf ... Mary-Lou =^..^=

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  18. I guess I make boring salads, but I'm one of those people who can eat the same things over and over and be happy with it :) I do like a salad with mandarin ranges,pineapple, dried cranberries and pecans with the lettuce, though. The fritatta looks wonderful! Our hens just started laying so I am looking forward o having too many eggs again.

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  19. You're right about obsessed. And amazing is my other vote for overused word. That said, I think you and I would enjoy salads together anytime. I love using kalamata, feta, sundried, artichokes, and lots of other stuff -- avocados, GOOD croutons (the kind you make yourself), eggs, lots more! And that fritatta looks to die for. You did well by your "girls."

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