Monday, February 7, 2011

Chopped Salads and How to Use a Big Knife

  As solos cooks, your first line of defense could be a great salad.  There's never a problem with making a salad for one and, if you make a chopped salad, make enough (store without dressing or tomatoes) to last a few days.  That way, you'll get the most out of your shopping and get all the veggies you need. 

If you master a basic salad and understand fresh vegetables, you'll also be able to change that salad up:
  • Add cheese or boiled eggs
  • Add grilled chicken
  • Add leftover shrimp from your take-out from last night
  • Add chopped pepperoni from that two-day-old pizza in the frig
  • Add homemade croutons (using up that old bread)
Most people never learn how to make a good salad, but you're going to.

I have a great recipe (below) for you, but first....  Watch Jamie Oliver's short video on chopped salad:

Watch Jamie Now!  Make a note of how he uses the knife, too.

Making Jamie's salad in my kitchen
 In fact, here's a basic, really quick video on holding and using a chef's knife:

How to use a knife!

Alyce's Salad Notes
  • Buy greens you like, but buy good-looking greens and skip iceberg lettuce unless you crave a blue-cheese wedge.  Wash them well (Put them in cold water in the sink or a bowl for 5 minutes, swishing several times.)  Drain them well and lay them out on cotton or linen or paper towels. Wrap well and put in a plastic bag or a covered refrigerator container.  Alternately, you can spin them in a salad spinner.
  • Add any vegetable or fruit you like or have.  Google salad recipes or go to (great site) and see lots of recipes.  Be brave and mix things up; the recipe police aren't coming.
  • If you have fresh herbs, including parsley, just throw them in; you'll be blown away.  (In fact, you can make a great parsley salad and it's easy to grow.)
  • Be loving to yourself and be creative:  Make salads you adore so that you'll eat them.
  • Make your own salad dressings...  Ok, you might keep a jar of low-fat Ranch (bought in the produce section cold) for veggie dip or to mix with salsa for a great taco salad dressing or fish taco sauce ...also great for a grilled asparagus dip.)
  • Most green salads benefit from a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and a sprinkle of salt and pepper before (or instead of) being dressed.

    Balsamic Blue Chop for one.

    Balsamic Blue Chop serves 2 as a main course or 4 as a small first course
    • 1 c radicchio or endive, chopped+
    • 2 c bibb or butter lettuce, chopped+
    • 1/2 small Granny Smith apple, chopped
    • 1/2 c asparagus or green beans, steamed and chopped (microwave for 2-3 minutes beforehand)*
    • 1/4 c  sweet red pepper, chopped*
    • 2 scallions, minced (white and green parts)--or 1T minced shallots or red onion*
    • 1/4 c ea  fresh cilantro and parsley, chopped; save a little for garnish*
    • 1 c cooked chicken, chopped (optional)*
    • 2T cooked bacon, crumbled (optional)*
    • 1/4 c blue cheese crumbled--or use the cheese of your choice
    • 2t fresh lemon juice
    • kosher salt and freshly-ground pepper
    1. In a large bowl, combine radicchio through bacon and toss well. 
    2. Sprinkle with lemon juice; toss again.  Sprinkle with a pinch each of salt and pepper. 
    3. Top with blue cheese and garnish with a bit of parsley or cilantro.
    4. Toss with the  balsamic vinaigrette below  or choose your own dressing and serve immediately
      You can also make this salad early in the day (don't add the lemon juice or dressing), cover tightly and store in the frig until dinnertime.  Or make a lot and store for a few days.

    +Solo Cook's Note: Sub whatever greens you like; radicchio can be expensive, but red cabbage isn't.  You can ask the produce clerk to cut a red or green cabbage in half for you.

    Balsamic Vinaigrette  (Lovely Dressing for YOU!)
    • 2t red onion or shallot, finely minced
    • 1T balsamic vinegar
    • 1/4 tsp sugar
    • 2T extra-virgin olive oil
    • 1/4t each kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
    • sprinkle of cayenne pepper*
    In a large bowl, whisk together well onion, vinegar and sugar.  While whisking, drizzle in olive oil until dressing is thoroughly combined or emulsified.  Add salt and peppers; taste.  Adjusting seasonings and whisk again before dressing salad.  (You can also place all the ingredients in a jam jar, cover with tight lid, and shake well.)  Note:  If you follow a gluten free diet, make your own dressing.  Purchased balsamic vinaigrette can contain gluten.

    *items  which may not be in your pantry  *1 Watch how to cut a bell pepper Asian-style using a cleaver

    Have fun cooking and taking care of yourself,

    1 comment:

    1. I agree the good ole salad is the perfect dinner for one! I love your idea of lemon and s&p, I frequently do that and it is so fresh!
      (also luv Jamie O. - so great link)


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