Compulsory Salad

Through much trial and error, I have been forced to conclude that it makes my life better to eat a salad every day. A really substantial salad. As in, this salad should be the majority of my lunch.

I’ve never disliked salad, but I must admit that if I had a choice, I’d rather need a compulsory donut than a salad. “Have to run out for my daily donut!” I’d tell my husband, heading out the door. Of course, I’m pretty picky about donuts; I’ve been spoiled for really fresh, hot-out-of-the-oil donuts, eaten bare-naked or adorned with only the most cursory cinnamon-sugar attempt at modesty. Maybe I’d just have to buy a deep-fryer.

Enough about donuts. The point is, eating donuts has consistently failed to make me feel better. Eating salads, on the other hand, makes my life better. I have reached my peace with that.

But I also know from experience that if I dislike something, even a little, there’s no way it’s going to happen every day. Thus I’ve become compulsively interested in making really good salads. This is a little tricky, since in general I’m not fond of dressings, but making good salads is one of the most critical aspects of getting those salads down day after day. And liking it. (The other key is to pre-wash the greens so I don’t have to fiddle with that when I’m already hungry.)

Most days I’ll do something simple. Sliced pickled snap peas and cheese, with a little of the pickle juice drizzled on for dressing, is a favorite. A squeeze of lemon, some grated cheese and chopped apple is always good. Seasonal tidbits, like fresh peas or blueberries or leftover turkey with dried cranberries… good stuff.

If I’m feeling bolder or more energetic or in need of a change, there can be leftover quinoa or beans, some sauteed mushrooms, or (this is for the days when I need some convincing to make the salad happen) freshly fried and crumbled bacon. Sometimes I candy some chopped hazelnuts and keep them in the fridge for a while, doling out a sprinkle each day.

Because the better I get at making really awesome salads, the more I enjoy my lunch each day. Despite the fact that I’m not having donuts.

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