Monday, April 30, 2007

Dinner for one: Night 1 in my mini-series

Unfortunately, you only get to see one of my blurry test shots from my dinner, as my camera battery died before I got set up for better ones! Oh, well, it'll serve to give a general idea.

I wasn't terribly hungry tonight: I'm still a bit jet-lagged, and I exercised my upper body tonight. (The bands/ball exercises are working; I was sweating! More info on that when I hae the routine down better.) Sometimes hard exercise has the nice effect of making me less hungry afterward.

Of course, eating a salad for one is hardly a unique dinner. And salads can be so horribly boring, especially when you are used to filling a salad with tasteless iceberg lettuce coated in high-fat items like boiled egg, bacon, cheese, fried chicken, buttery croutons, etc., drenched in a high-fat dressing that leaves a shiny pool at the bottom of your salad bowl when you're done. If/when you then try to switch to a salad of lettuce, tomatoes, and vinegar alone (or something similar) to make your salad have nearly no calories, well, yech. All of your textures the same, all of your tastes melding into one . . . that's not fun at all. All of that former stuff can be lovely (even the iceberg lettuce, if it's very fresh and in just the right salad), but of course, a salad full of bunches of fattening food is no healthy meal at all.

I've found that putting more unique ingredients in my salads makes me enjoy a light meal very thoroughly. Each bite is deliciously flavorful; with a variety of textures and tastes, the salad stays interesting to my palate. When one of my college roommates graduated, I made her a cookbook of recipes I'd made that she enjoyed. One thing I included was a whole page of pick-and-choose ingredients for salads, everything from sesame seeds to roasted red peppers to strawberries to cilantro. Nearly anything can be good in a salad--I love roasted vegetables in a salad . . . or hot dressing that wilts the greens a bit . . . or pan-fried tofu. It's all about experimentation.

Tonight's salad consisted of spring greens (I'd rather use local organic ones, but I didn't have any, so I bought a bag at Whole Foods), sliced red onion (very thinly sliced, about 1/8 of the onion--too much red onion in a bite can knock out your taste buds), dried mixed berries (about 1/8 c.), pistachios (1/8 c.), and my easy homemade Meyer lemon dressing. That's it. I had planned to use feta as well, but the feta in our fridge was ancient and had developed green mold. My salad was delicious without it. The onion was crisp and pungent, the pistachios were crunchy and salty, the berries were chewy and sweet, the greens were fresh and peppery, and the dressing was slightly sour but also a bit sweet. The combination was simple and wonderful.

I've written out my dressing before, but here it is again. It's a great dressing for people who are recovering from Irritable Bowel Synrdome or Interstitial Cystitis (or people whose stomachs get easily upset in general) but still want a salad dressing that tastes like salad dressing. I never use vinegar in dressings because of my body's issues, and I couldn't have eaten this dressing without pain at the worst of my IC, but I love it now that I'm in the process of recovering.

My Old Stand-By: Meyer Lemon Dressing (No Vinegar!)

1 Meyer lemon (a Meyer lemon is a cross between a Mandarin orange and a regular lemon)
~3 times as much good olive oil as you got lemon juice (just eye it--it's really okay)
~1 tsp. Mrs. Dash garlic-and-herbs seasoning (or brown or spicy mustard, or your own seasoning mix)
couple of grinds of salt, or 1/2 tsp. Lawry's seasoning salt
1-2 tsp. of honey

I juice the lemon into an old jelly jar that has a lid. Then I pour and sprinkle all the rest into the jar, put the cap on, and shake it well. If I'm thinking ahead, I make it a day in advance, but I've made it and served it right away, too. With the lid screwed on the jar, it stays good in the fridge for a week or longer.

If you have any salad ingredients you love that some other people find strange, please share! Or . . . what's your favorite salad combination in general?


Sarah said...

I love dried fruit and pistachios on salads!

I also enjoy a small portion of bleu cheese, gorgonzola, or feta.

I really like fruits on my salads as well. I throw in grapes, apples, strawberries, and pears when I have them on hand.

Jen said...

One of my favorites is baby spinach, grilled chicken, fresh strawberries, some feta cheese and walnuts and a fresh raspberry dressing. Yum. I think I know what I'm having for dinner tonight! ;-)

totegirl said...

I love green leaf or romaine lettuce, julienned carrots, julienned red cabbage, whole wheat rotini pasta, grape tomatoes, and sliced zucchini, tossed with olive oil, salt, and pepper.

I also love salad greens, diced apples, dried cranberries, toasted pecans, feta cheese, tossed with vinaigrette. It would also be really tasty with your lemon dressing!

I love roasted veggies on my salads too. Really anything can work on a salad, just like you said.

Purl_Princess said...

I love putting edamame in my salads... and I love dressing with chili powder...

Come visit me at my new site, where I am actually posting again. I'm on a local food diet. I hope you like it!

PearShapedGirl said...

I love pumpkin kernels, dried cranberries, grilled chicken, feta cheese and any kind of salted nut (especially pistachios, cashews, and almonds). I love healthy salad toppers, but I'm a sucker for the unhealthy ones as well. I love 'em all, haha!

Take care,

DiWriter said...

I have to agree with the folks here, cranberries and feta. Salty, tart and sweet all together.

I also recently toasted some nuts in oil and garam masala. Now that was a GREAT addition to that salad