Novel salad

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There will be six of us for dinner Saturday night, including a couple of really good cooks, meaning that if I try to compete, I fail.  So what to serve?   I may write good books, but a gourmet cook I am not.

My gut tells me that it’s best to go with simple and fresh, which, this time of year in the Northeast, means a big multi-ingredient salad.  Fresh veggies and fruit, lettuce from the garden, sweet corn … they’re my key ingredients. Hey, don’t yawn. Salad may be healthy, but it doesn’t have to be boring.

Start with lettuce. There are different flavors, colors, and texture. My very favorite kind is butter lettuce (a.k.a. Boston Bibb), but in a big salad I’ll add red leaf lettuce, spinach, or even a little kale. Romaine seems to have an extra-long life in my fridge, so I usually have some of that around. Do I want my salad in full leaves or chopped? Depends on my mood.

Next, veggies. Peppers are always good for color and health, but I use them during the rest of the year, so sometimes in summer I steer clear. Zucchini or summer squash, blanched and diced, adds texture. Likewise, seedless cukes, either sliced or diced.  And once the local crop arrives, sweet corn is the best. I cook the corn earlier in the day, remove it from the cob with a knife, and toss it in. Fresh asparagus from earlier in the week? Into the bowl. Same with whatever color tomatoes are on sale at my farm stand in a given week. How about dinner leftovers, even of frozen veggies, like peas or green beans? In they go.

If I have apple slices left in the bag I bought for my grandkids, I throw them in, too. Actually, I’ll thrown most anything from my fridge into a salad. We’re talking bacon, ham, hard-boiled-egg, or sliced chicken, any one of which, of course, adds protein to make the salad a meal in itself.

Oh oh oh, I nearly forgot cheese. Most any kind works in a salad. I always keep blocks of Cabot’s cheddar in my fridge as a source of calcium. If I’m looking to add some to my salad, I cut little strips and add them.

And nuts, can’t forget nuts.  Pine nuts, walnut, pecans, pistachios — I’ll add whatever I have.

Okay. I really have given you lots of choices here, and truly? If I do want the simple and fresh I mentioned above, I’ll got for 4-5 interesting ingredients, rather than 10, which means that another day, I have 4-5 other interesting ingredients to use.  Moreover, if you’ve included even half of what I’m listing above, your salad is getting up there in calories.

You may want to watch that, especially when it comes to dressing. Sometimes I make my own, especially when I’m in a Sweet Salt Air herb mood.  Often, though, it’s more work than I want.  And let me say right here, I detest diet dressing. Some people swear by it, but I haven’t found one that works with my taste buds in a way that doesn’t ruin the rest of the salad. My solution? Dribble. Regular. Dressing. A little salad dressing can go a long way. The dressing should be like background music during dinner – i.e., subtle and muted.

What else do you add to your salad? I ask, because I’m always looking for something new. Something novel. Pun intended.

 

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15 Comments

  1. Avatar Phyllis T Rosokoff on July 24, 2014 at 7:29 am

    I love your idea of fresh corn in the salad and will try it soon. My favorite hurry-up salad for a small dinner party or just my husband and me is chunked Roma tomatoes, sliced or chunked peeled cucumbers, garbanzo beans and tiny bits of red onion, tossed with a simple garlic or basil vinaigrette dressing. It’s quick, refreshing and the ingredients are must-haves in my fridge anyway, so no need to go marketing at the last minute. PS, I loved Sweet Salt Air!

  2. Avatar Shelly on July 24, 2014 at 7:32 am

    Salad is my favorite! Romaine lettuce, cherry tomatoes, European cucumber, broccoli, shredded carrots, peppers, boiled eggs, granola, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds (both raw & unsalted), flax seeds, chia seeds, craisins, maybe a couple of croutons and some diced sharp cheddar cheese. I buy everything organic (when possible). I top it with a little bit of Ken’s Lite Sweet Vidalia Onion dressing. So yummy!!

  3. Avatar Alexis HInger on July 24, 2014 at 7:35 am

    The varied greens are beautiful. Try adding small chunks of watermelon and feta cheese with a balsamic vinaigrette.

  4. Avatar Pennsatucky on July 24, 2014 at 9:14 pm

    I discover new things at salad bars; jicama, beets and mango salsa are my current salad musts.
    But more important than the salad are two (or three!) Kavli Finn Crisp crackers on the side; low carb but so tasty, I spread a little Laughing Cow Lite or hummus on the crackers; its my low calorie substitute for buttered toast.

    When I can I splurge on hearts of palm too.

  5. Avatar Ellie on July 24, 2014 at 9:18 pm

    I love home made salad dressing, they are easy to make, and you cand be creative, or simple. My favorite simple dressing is red wine vinegar, basil, salt, pepper, oregano, and oil, shake it up, pour…..my big go to dressing that I use for cole slaw, macaroni salad, broccoli salad, is. Mayo, and equal amounts of sugar and 1/2 amount of red wine vinegar, it does not need anything else, try it….then to change up up the cole slaw dressing, add ginger and pour that over red grapes that are cut in 1/2…can’t get enough, or add dill weed and pour over thawd frozen peas…yum yum.

  6. Avatar Ellie on July 24, 2014 at 9:20 pm

    For fresh chunked watermelon, chop fresh mint into beautiful thin small ribbons and pour on some reduced balsamic vinegar, WOW…POP

  7. Avatar Ashleigh on July 27, 2014 at 4:40 pm

    I love adding a burrata to the mix Maybe some prosciutto and red pepper. Never have enough of cranberries, raisins and sunflower seeds!

    Love your books, please keep writing from the heart!

  8. Avatar Nancy Bergmann on July 28, 2014 at 7:31 pm

    I love all of the above mentioned, but sometimes I add heart of palm and artichoke hearts. The oil from the chokes mixed with some red wine vinegar, salt and pepper, drizzled sparingly makes a nice light dressing. Yummy!

    • Avatar sue on July 29, 2014 at 7:28 am

      my hub makes a wicked pasta salad and for the dressing we use white balsamic vinegar w/ lemon or orange, we also have a tangerine one–we buy these flavored vinegar and they are wonderful–i use them on a regular green salad as well.

      in a green salad we use romaine, tomatoes, slivered carrots, artichoke hearts, sliced black olives, kale, and sprinkle with a variety of herbs and fresh basil and fresh chives–top it with dried tomato basil feta, and sometimes pine nute

  9. Avatar Linda on July 29, 2014 at 4:42 pm

    Several ladies have just finished discussing your latest book, “Sweet Salt Air” and we have a few questions. One lady wanted to know if Leo is based on a real person and where does he live. Ha! Ha! Also, they wondered if the herbs worked like they were described in the book. We had a lively discussion. It was great. Thanks

    • Barbara Delinsky Barbara Delinsky on July 29, 2014 at 5:33 pm

      So funny, Linda. Leo is pure imagination. ARE there any men like that? If you know one, tell ME where he lives! And I did do extensive research on herbs for the book, so the basics are accurate. But then I threw in a magical element that let them grow where they might not otherwise grow. Maine weather can be tricky …

  10. Avatar Kathryn Diman on July 29, 2014 at 11:43 pm

    Sweet Salt Air is one of my favorite of your novels. I currently live in Oregon but previously lived in Bar Harbor, Blue Hill, and Owls Head and also as a child spent many summers on Squirrel Island staying at my grandfather’s Inn (which burned down in 1963). Anyway, whenever I get homesick for Maine I pick up one of your novels and am delightfully transported back to New England. Sweet Salt Air really captures the essence of Island Life…

    About the salad – i recently made a grilled corn salad that was a big hit with my family. Very little greens- grilled corn off the cob, bacon bits, shallots, kale, red pepper, garlic, all sauteed or grilled with olive oil and seasoned with cilantro and more garlic. You can make personalized variations of this.

    Also – as an aside – I know you are terribly busy but if you have time to help an aspiring writer (myself) I would love to have you look at a manuscript I have in the works – the back drop is Mt. Desert Island with flashbacks to the turn of the century- the area was rich with history during the gilded age. I would love your input. Can i email it to you? or to your agent?

    Best Wishes and thanks for all of your wonderful books.

    • Barbara Delinsky Barbara Delinsky on July 30, 2014 at 6:05 am

      Thanks for your wonderful comments, Kathryn. You do write like a writer – and I wish I could help you with your work. I could say that I get too many requests, which I do, and would be reading other people’s manuscripts full time, rather than focusing on my own work, if I ever opened that door. But the truth is that I am not a good judge of what New York is buying right now. I write what I write, and since I have an established readership, New York continues to buy my books. If I were a first-time author, I just don’t know …

      I do wish you all best with it, though!

      • Avatar Kathryn on July 30, 2014 at 12:55 pm

        Your reply totally makes sense. I would much rather have you continue producing your wonderful books rather than getting sidetracked reading manuscripts.

  11. Avatar Mary Siteman on August 2, 2014 at 3:32 pm

    Just finished reading Sweet Salt Air. Loved it, loved it, koved it. Great job Ms Delinsky, keep them coming. I need a couple of days to get myself out of the book. LOL. Thankyou, have a wonderful summer.

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