Salads are the Rodney Dangerfield of the dinner table. To paraphrase the late comedian, “They get no respect.” Often we apologize for serving or eating a salad. If someone asks what we ate for lunch and the answer is leafy and green, we say, "Oh, just a salad." I’m happy to report that, judging from their online presence, salads are making a comeback, so I’m sharing some recipes to get everyone started. Following what was probably a few weeks of overindulging, there's no time like the present to give salads the respect they deserve.
Salad toppings to avoid if you’re truly serious about losing a few pounds after the holidays include mayonnaise or sour cream-based dressings, large pieces of bacon or ham and tons of cheeses and croutons. I’m always shocked when I hear fellow restaurant patrons proclaim they’re “dieting and only having a salad.” Then they return from the salad bar with a concoction filled with the above-mentioned offenders, topped by a massive river of ranch dressing on top. Healthy? I don’t think so.
I’ll admit, it's not always easy to choose a healthy salad as a main meal or side dish. But after seeing hundreds of videos of the Kardashian family’s favorite salad online, along with a blogger’s post of “Old-Timey Salad” using the juice of a squeezed tomato as the only dressing (I tried it and it worked), I jumped on the salad band wagon along with everyone else.
Disclaimer: I am not a fan of the reality show family. I watched the Kardashians’ reality show in the early days ONLY when the Olympic star formerly known as Bruce Jenner played a pivotal role as the stepfather and here's why.
Years ago, I was thrilled to spend the day with Jenner when he flew his own plane from his California home to Jackson. Serving as the celebrity guest at a golf tournament hosted by the corporation for which I worked, staged to raise funds for UMMC’s Children’s Hospital, was the reason for Jenner's visit. While serving as his courier to and from the airport and hostess throughout the day and evening's awards dinner, I was impressed with his sincerity and genuine interest in meeting children as well as their parents. And, it was a thrill to watch one of the world’s greatest athletes play golf with my CEO, who actually played as well as the Olympian.
An unsolicited autographed photo Jenner sent to me afterwards thanking me for my part in the event further cemented my belief that he possessed a good heart. As a result of this encounter, I was interested to see someone I “kind of” knew on television. Once he left the show that was the extent of my viewership or interest.
I WAS curious, however, about the family’s “favorite salad recipe,” especially since it came from a famous Beverly Hills restaurant. Supposedly the salad was created in the 1950’s and was a favorite of presidents (JFK was a fan) and stars, including Elizabeth Taylor. It experienced a revival of sorts after appearing on the reality show.
After trying the recipe, I can attest the salad, which literally takes just a few minutes, dressing included, to make, is light, tasty and satisfying. And it’s fun to flip the bowl over after combining the ingredients and having an instant plate filled with a large salad complete with dressing.
Following is a version of La Scala’s recipe, along with the blogger’s tomato juice dressing salad. Let’s all vow to give salads the respect they deserve in 2023!
Copycat Version of La Scala Salad
1/4 cup oil (I used olive oil)
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, pressed
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
2 heads of lettuce, finely chopped (romaine and iceberg)
¼ pound salami, julienned into thin strips
1/4 pound Mozzarella, shredded
1-15-oz. can garbanzo beans, drained
In a large bowl, mix dressing ingredients until thoroughly mixed. Add half of the garbanzo beans, stir and let marinate.
On a cutting board, chop all salad ingredients (leave garbanzos whole). Use your hands to combine everything, then pour into the bowl on top of the dressing. Put a large plate over the top and shake lightly, then while holding the plate on top, flip bowl over to allow all contents to land on the plate.
1 large head of iceberg lettuce
1 sweet onion
Cup of matchstick carrots
Salt and pepper
Dice onion and cucumber and add to a large salad bowl; add carrots. Cut the top off of tomatoes and squeeze tomato juice over the salad bowl. Next, peel tomatoes and add to the salad bowl. Season vegetables generously with salt and pepper. Last, chop lettuce and stir into the vegetables.
Cover and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes before serving. (You can add your favorite salad dressing, but you really won’t need any; the tomato juice makes the salad very flavorful).
Kara Kimbrough is a food and travel writer from Mississippi. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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