When Salads Get Funky

We’ve all made a salad at least once in our lives. And, yes, I count ripping open a bag of Caesar salad mix making a salad, so I feel confident in saying all instead of most in the previous sentence. Much to my husband’s dismay, vegetable-based salads (rather than mayo-based salads) are a staple in my household. The reason? I’m not a fan of many cooked vegetables. So, salads are my favorite way of getting veggies down my family’s gullet.

When Mr. Moo had his first birthday, I naturally went to the old salad standbys for a bit of side dish help. Because I opted for Mexican as a loose theme for the dinner, I needed to go further afield for the recipes. And, that’s when things got a bit funky. I now present two salads that are easy, if a bit unusual. (I will NOT be sharing the pico de gallo fruit salad. That was just a bit miserable.)

First stop is Rick Bayless–that Chicago bastion of Mexican cuisine. I found Mixed Vegetable Salad with Lime Dressing on his web site. This one is a bit weird as you have to steam all of the vegetables first and then mix them together. As I was steaming, I thought, “Gads. I hate all of these vegetables.” But other people seemed to like it. (I’m giving you the veg choices I made, but the web site has all of the items you can use.)

And, the next one is from epicurious.com entitled Mexican Chopped Salad with Honey-Lime Dressing. Totally tasty.

Mixed Vegetable Salad with Lime Dressing

Serves 6

About 2 cups (total) of:
Carrots, peeled and sliced diagonally ⅛ inch thick
Small boiling potatoes like the red-skinned ones, sliced ⅛ inch thick

About 2 cups (total) of:
Green beans, ends snipped and cut in half
Frozen peas, defrosted

About 2 cups (total) of:
Radishes, stem-and root-ends removed, slices paper-thin
Cucumbers, peeled, seeded (if desired) and sliced 1/8 inch thick
Tomatoes, cored and sliced ⅛ inch thick

Dressing
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
½ C vegetable oil, preferably part olive oil
½ t salt
A generous ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1½ T finely chopped cilantro

In a large saucepan, set up a vegetable steamer over an inch of water and set over medium-high heat. When the water begins to boil, place the prepared carrots and potatoes in separate shallow piles on the steamer rack. (I did this separately, so carrots first and then potatoes.) Steam, tightly covered, until the vegetables are tender but still retain a little firmness, 8-12 minutes, depending on their cut and condition. If one vegetable is done before the other, remove it with a large spoon or tongs. Cool the vegetables in separate groupings on a large tray.  Next, steam the green beans, tightly covered: 5 to 8 minutes for beans. When the green vegetables are done, remove them and cool with the other vegetables. Frozen peas need only be defrosted and set aside. In a large bowl, mix together the radishes, cucumbers, and tomatoes with the well-drained, cooked vegetables.

A few minutes before serving, measure the lime juice, oil, salt, pepper and optional fresh coriander or parsley into a small bowl or a jar with tight-fitting lid; whisk or shake until thoroughly blended. Pour onto the vegetables and mix well.

So, then there is supposed to be a garnish of cheese and eggs with slices of onions and watercress. I completely forgot about this bit. Oh well.

Results

Mr. Moo enjoyed the leftovers–particularly picking out the peas and making them into itty bitty little piles. As I mentioned, I’m not a fan of peas, green beans, or cooked carrots. But the dressing is incredibly simple and would probably be good on any old salad. Another bonus? Completely vegan!

Mexican Mixed Salad

Mexican Chopped Salad with Honey-Lime Dressing

Serves 4 (so of course I doubled or tripled it)

Salad

  • 2½ C chopped romaine lettuce
  • 1 can (15.5 oz) black beans, rinsed and well drained
  • ¾ C chopped seeded tomato
  • ¾ C chopped peeled jicama
  • ¾ C fresh corn kernels, uncooked (I used no salt added canned corn.)
  • ¾ C thinly sliced radishes
  • Half a ripe avocado, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • ¼ C crumbled reduced-fat feta cheese (OK, this is so weird. It’s a Mexican chopped salad. Why not use Mexican cheese? I used chihuahua. I figure, if you can find jicama, you can pick up a halfway decent Mexican-style cheese.)

Honey-Lime Dressing

  • ¼ C fresh lime juice
  • ¼ C olive oil
  • 2 T honey
  • 2 T finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and minced
  • 1 t chopped jalapeño pepper

So, this is the easiest of easy: Mix salad ingredients. In a separate container, mix dressing ingredients. Then, mix everything together.

Results

Like I said before, tasty as all get out. I like leftover wilty salad, and this is even better next day when everything is all gooey together. Just make sure that you rinse the beans really well. I think next time I would roast the red peppers first. But, I’m not a fan of raw red peppers.

Mexican Chopped Salad

So, all in all, not crazy weird salads, but not your average bag o’ greens. I do find it odd to steam vegetables and then serve them cold or at room temperature. I’m not sure I’m going to make that one again,  But, chopped salad? It’s going into my salad rotation. (Sorry Paul.)

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