Whether it be the perfect yog mess or the ultimate bowl of oatmeal (coming soon!), there is always a method to my Everythingtarian madness.
Case in point: the junk salad.
If I am going to be honest with you all, I am not the original inventor of what I call, “the junk salad.” As if it’s any surprise, I got it from my mama.
Growing up, Mama Everythingtarian was the queen supreme of junk salads. She’d take whatever random array of produce we had left in the crisper and throw together magnificently delicious salads we’d all devour alongside a good ol’ Midwestern plate of hot dish. The salad ingredients always seemed a bit sketchy, “Like Mom, are you sure you should be putting ranch dressing, strawberries and salmon together?”
Despite our hesitations however, the end result was always fabulous.
Just like Mama E herself.
First, you must start with a generous base layer of lettuce…
My first choice is usually organic spinach (organic, because it’s #8 on the Dirty Dozen list). Romaine, mixed greens, escarole, spring mix and yes – even iceberg lettuce – make nutrient rich alternatives.
The next step is arguably the healthiest: pile on those veggies!
Celery hearts, bell peppers, carrots, cucumbers, olives, tomatoes, zucchini, sprouts, corn, onion, beets, banana peppers, mushrooms, sweet potato, green beans, broccoli, cauliflower – the options truly are endless.
For this particular masterpiece, I chose celery hearts, red bell pepper and cherry tomatoes…
While veggies are great and all, a lady needs some protein if this salad is going to fill her up for more than an hour.
Enter in my secret salad weapon…
I happen to absolutely j’adore beans in salad. Garbanzo beans, black beans, kidney beans, cannellini beans…I love them all. Maybe it’s their slightly mushy, creamy texture in contrast to the crunchy bite of lettuce?
I don’t know, but I like it.
But I’m not here to discriminate – grilled chicken, salmon, steak, tofu, tempeh, cottage cheese and hard-boiled eggs all make excellent protein-packed additions as well.
Let’s pause a moment in honor of our next step, which is perhaps the most important, most delicious and funnest step of them all.
Did I mention that even though I studied journalism for four full years I still believe that funnest should be a real word?
I’m talking about toppings.
In this particular junk salad, I took a few hearty shakes of sunflower seeds (a Mama Everythingtarian salad must-have), nutritional yeast and raisins for some crunch, subtle cheesiness and a hint of sweet…
Let’s not stop there though.
We can think of more…
Nuts/Seeds: almonds, walnuts, cashews, pumpkin seeds, ground flaxseed, sesame seeds
Cheese: feta, cheddar, mozzarella, queso fresco, blue, shaved parmesan, goat cheese, Daiya vegan cheese
Fruit: strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, apples, pears, avocado, dried fruit
Grains: croutons (espesh the ones from Ruby Tuesday’s), pita chips, crunchy breadsticks, wheatberries, brown rice, pasta salads
Anyone ready for some yummy dressing? Let’s pour to it!
Despite what my picture tells you to do, do not try drizzling your dressing while holding your new camera and trying to take a picture of said dressing pour…
Unless you like a 1/2 cup of dressing on your salad, it doesn’t work.
But this Renaissance Farms Lemon Basil Pesto Vinaigrette definitely does.
Toss, fork and devour.
Tres simple, no?
Because my motto is pair it with a carb and I had no carbs in my apartment to pair with this salad, I finished off my dinner with a PB Chocolate Chip Banana Soft Serve dessert…
Take two frozen bananas, 1 T peanut butter and 2 T dark chocolate chips.
Throw them for a whirl in the food processor.
Top with a sprinkle of dark chocolate chips.
I told you there’s a method to my madness.
Best of all, it’s Mama E approved.
What are YOUR favorite salad toppings and combinations? For me, the junkier and more random, the better.