Sunday, August 23, 2009

My Favorite Salad

Weekend lunches at home require as little cooking as possible in the hot summer months. When I was in Italy, I bought a few kilos of dried beans, and I've been cooking big batches of them about twice a month. They're at their best fresh out of the pot, but they last a long time in the fridge and are still tastier than their canned incarnation. I just ate up the last of my chickpeas today. Above, you see them featured on the top of a version of the salad I make every weekend for lunch. This particular salad has baby spinach leaves as its base, but I've also used iceberg, romaine, and butter lettuce. In the middle is some brown rice, and layered in rings around the middle are sliced red bell pepper (or the Japanese version, which is much thinner of flesh and skin but similar in flavor), cucumber (again, the Japanese version - skinny, seedless, and almost sweet in its juicy crispness), avocado (usually I buy the cheapo bruised ones, but the one in the picture is a 200 yen beauty, buttery and without blemish), and the Italian ceci sprinkled on top, along with black pepper and gomashio, a mixture of black sesame seeds and course salt. I've never been one for salad dressings, and with the salt and the oily avocado this salad really doesn't need one at all. At least that's my opinion. I add halved cherry tomatoes sometimes, too. This salad is so delicious that I look forward to it almost as much as to the weekend itself. It's the avocado that has me hooked, to be honest. But the avocado needs all the crispy vegetables to balance it out, and the whole salad needs the rice and beans if it's going to fill me up. There's not a lot worse than the standard veggies-only salad that you can chew and chew without ever getting full, like a forsaken soul in the Hades of Greek mythology. I am happy to say that is not the case with the lovely salad featured here. Cool as a cucumber, but satisfying as unctuous avocado and a complete vegetarian protein can possibly be, this is the summer salad for me.

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