Given that this is the first post of the year, I’m feeling a little push to come up with something profound. For kicks I took a peek at what I wrote this time last year and it wasn’t remotely inspiring….just a few words on sustainable seafood. But the blog was brand new then, and the only ones reading were my parents (who had no choice in the matter), my husband (ditto), and a handful of supportive friends.
Now quite a few of you are tuning in, so there’s a touch more pressure to come up with something ground breaking or at least mildly thought provoking. But having stumbled upon so many other thoughtful pieces over the past few days, I don’t feel so compelled. There’s this smart take on why you might want to think twice before diving headlong into a New Year’s diet, and this lovely essay on food and family and getting a little quieter in 2012.
So I’ll stay out of the contemplative realm and keep things shamelessly straightforward with what’s really on my mind: getting dinner on the table tonight. Because no matter how philosophical we can all get at the launch of a New Year, there’s still the practical matter of feeding a family.
This little DIY Salad Bar, while ever so slightly “1980′s Round Table Pizza,” is the ideal answer to dinner following the holidays. Most of us are looking to lighten things up a bit anyway, while at the same time use all the leftover bits and bobs in the refrigerator: the last of the gorgeous bosc pears sent from a distant auntie, the tin of toasted almonds Mr. Mom’s Kitchen brought home from a client, the remainder of the New Year’s Day ham, the salad greens from last week’s CSA box, a chunk of cheese from the gougeres we made for Christmas.
When my fridge gets to such a state, I pull everything out and get chopping. The result is a simple, make-your-own salad bar.
Make a salad dressing and/or pull out whatever bottled options you have on hand. It’s a plus to offer a choice, even if it’s just a bottle of olive oil and vinegar.
Set one big bowl on the table with a pair of salad tongs and a stack of serving plates.
Let each family member fill a plate with all their favorite salad fixings, put it into the big bowl, drizzle on some dressing, and toss each salad individually. The kids like doing this on their own.
Any leftovers can be tossed together for lunchbox salads for the next day.
Here are some salad bar ingredient ideas for inspiration:
Greens of any kind: lettuces, spinach, dark leafies, chicories
Any raw veggies: carrots, celery, cucumber, fennel, tomatoes, peppers
Leftover cooked veggies: steamed broccoli, sautéed peppers, roasted cauliflower, boiled potatoes, peas, corn, edamame
Chopped, sliced or sectioned fruit: tangerines, apples, pears, grapefruit, oranges, berries
Beans and legumes: black beans, pintos, cannelinis, kidney beans, lentils, chick peas
Other protein-rich foods: cooked chicken, turkey, hard boiled egg, tuna, salmon, beef, tofu, pork, ham, hard boiled egg, lamb
Grains: cooked quinoa, rice, couscous, barley, farro
Shredded, crumbled, or cubed cheese — goat cheese, feta, Cheddar, Swiss, blue
Nuts and seeds: almonds, walnuts, peanuts, pecans, cashews, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds
Dried fruit: raisins, dried cranberries, chopped apricot, chopped dried plums
Croutons: homemade or store-bought
~ recipe for homemade croutons
As for what to do with the leftover gingerbread cookies, peppermint bark, chocolate truffle brownies, and so forth? Maybe an ice cream sundae bar tomorrow night …. use up the last of it in one fell swoop!
Welcome to 2012!