How to Build a Not-Boring Salad

This season in our lives has certainly had its challenges. As I type this, we are still in the middle of the pandemic and things are nowhere near normal. Or what used to be normal. Or, now maybe a new normal. Anyway, I have been trying to keep things as sane as possible and trying to come up with ideas for dinner. And that is how salad came to be a regular dinner around here.

Back in March when the world changed, I signed a contract to write a second cookbook. I had to create 60 new recipes, make all of them, more than once, all while I was making three meals a day for the three of us. Not to mention that shopping is not as straightforward as it used to be. In the early days, my husband would go to the market, wait on a line that snaked around the corner, and shopped with me via FaceTime. And since that only happened about once a week, I had to make do with what I had. So, I decided it was going to be salad every night for dinner with whatever I had on hand. But, it couldn’t just boring lettuce and dressing. It had to be varied and colorful and healthy.

What used to be the beginning of the week, but can be any day of the week now, because I keep losing track of what day it is, I make a batch of beans like chickpeas or my new favorite flageolets. I also make quinoa. If I have beets, I roast them. If I have a lot of extra tomatoes, I slow roast them. If I think ahead and made a double batch of chickpeas, I make hummus. I also have two dressing bottles that are always ready to go with an easy vinaigrette that I make with whatever vinegar I have and I also always have jars of hemp seeds, toasted sunflower and pumpkin seeds and almond parm (recipe is in my first book Wait, That’s Vegan?!) for crunchy and tasty toppings.

Then, when it is time for dinner, I literally empty out the refrigerator and put everything on the counter, and I mean everything, to assemble our bowls. This helps me stay organized and take inventory so I can make a shopping list as I prep. Then, I build a not-boring salad! Here are three I made over the last few months! (If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen them already.)

Salad #1: Lettuce topped with tomatoes (for me, not for my husband), quinoa, diced peppers, flageolet beans, shredded carrots, thinly sliced radishes, a scoop of hummus, hemp seeds, toasted sunflower and pumpkin seeds, and scallions.

Salad #2: Lettuce topped with thinly sliced radishes, shredded carrots, cucumbers, diced peppers, roasted tomatoes, chickpeas, roasted beets, toasted almonds, almond parm and scallions.

And, just because I think they are so pretty, here is a photo of a tray of roasted beets. This was about 4 big beets, peeled, cut into wedges and tossed with a little olive oil and salt and pepper. They are good for a few days in the refrigerator so I add them to our bowls until they are gone.

Salad #3: Kale topped with chickpeas, quinoa, tomatoes, raisins, green olives, chives, toasted sunflower seeds, and corn.

So that is my strategy for how not to build a not-boring salad! It has served me well since March and I don’t see the whole process ending any time soon! Now its your turn. I can’t wait to see what you make! xx Lisa


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