Cooking Class: Main-dish salads

When you’re not in the mood to cook a meal, a bowlful of vivid vegetables makes an ideal repast.

salad 311 (photo credit: MCT)
salad 311
(photo credit: MCT)
Oh dear. Now that summer has (supposedly) passed, vacation is over and the kids (or grandkids) are back at school, life has taken on a different pace.
It’s still too warm for heavy cooking, and there will certainly be enough of that, what with the upcoming High Holy Days.
You don’t feel like cooking, but you’re hungry. What to do? Salad.
I must confess (and it probably won’t come as a surprise to anyone) that I love salads. I have loved vegetables ever since I was a child and have always adored their colors and crunch. So when I’m in the mood for a healthy easy lunch or dinner, I make a main dish salad.
When planning a salad, a good thing to keep in mind is color. The more diverse the color of the vegetables you use (not only in a salad but throughout the day), the more your body will benefit from the different antioxidants they contain.
Serves 2 as a main dish
✔ 1 cup medium or fine bulgur
✔ 2 cups boiling water
✔ 250 gr. (2 cups) green beans, thinly sliced
✔ 2 small red onions, thinly sliced
✔ 2 ripe firm tomatoes, deseeded and coarsely chopped or cut into wedges
✔ 1⁄4 cup black olives (preferably Kalamata), whole or chopped
✔ 2 hard-boiled eggs, quartered Dressing:
✔ 1⁄3 cup olive oil
✔ 2-3 Tbsp. lemon juice or red wine vinegar
✔ 1 garlic clove, crushed
✔ 1⁄4 tsp. mustard
✔ 2 Tbsp. parsley, finely chopped
✔ 1 1⁄4 Tbsp. capers (optional)
✔ Salt and pepper to taste Other options: 4-6 rolled anchovy fillets, grated Parmesan cheese, large chunks of drained canned tuna or seared fresh tuna Put the bulgur in a large bowl and pour the boiling water over it. Cover and let stand 15-20 minutes (medium bulgur will take longer to soften). If the bulgur is still too hard after soaking, you can add another few tablespoons of boiling water, cover and let stand 5 more minutes. If the bulgur is tender but water remains at the bottom of the bowl, drain. Fluff with a fork.
Add the rest of the ingredients for the salad, except the eggs, and mix gently with a fork.
Combine all the ingredients for the dressing in a jar with a cover and shake. Pour over the salad. (If not serving immediately, moisten the salad with dressing but reserve some to refresh before serving.) To serve, place the quartered eggs on top and add anchovies and/or Parmesan if desired.
Serves 4
This is one of the yummy salads from Pita the Great, a fun paperback cookbook by Virginia T.  Habeeb. It’s been in my library since 1986. Serve the salad on a bed of greens or stuff into a whole wheat pita.
✔ 2 cups cooked diced or shredded chicken
✔ 11⁄4 cups cooked chopped broccoli or broccolini
✔ 1⁄3 cup chopped celery
✔ 1⁄2 cup mayonnaise (use soy mayo if preferred)
✔ 1 Tbsp. dry sherry or dry white wine (optional)
✔ 1 tsp. Dijon-style mustard
✔ 1⁄2 tsp. salt
✔ 1⁄2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
✔ Shredded lettuce and baby greens In a large bowl, combine chicken, broccoli and celery. In a small bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, sherry, mustard, salt and Worcestershire sauce.
Fold the dressing into the chicken salad and toss gently to coat.
Taste to adjust seasonings. Refrigerate, covered, to chill.
Serve on a bed of shredded lettuce and baby greens or in pita.
Serves 4
This salad was inspired by Brownies, one of the first (if not the first) health food restaurants in Manhattan, a place that famous actors and other celebrities frequented for at least three decades.
While it is based on only vegetables, this salad is deliciously filling and satisfying.
You can sprinkle feta-type cheese on top, add cubes of tofu or mixed seeds and nuts on top for protein.
✔ 1⁄2 small white cabbage
✔ 11⁄2 cups medium grated cabbage
✔ 1 cup peeled and grated fresh beets
✔ 1⁄2 cup radish or broccoli sprouts
✔ 1⁄2 cup raisins
✔ 1⁄3 cup chopped green onions (white and green part)
✔ 1 Granny Smith apple, cut into thin wedges or cubed
✔ Coarse sea salt and pepper to taste
✔ 1⁄4 cup fresh lemon juice
✔ 1⁄2 cup olive oil or other cold pressed oil
✔ 1 Tbsp. honey Remove the hard core of the cabbage and place the cabbage on a cutting board with the cut side down. Shred thinly with a sharp knife and put in a large salad bowl.
Arrange the rest of the ingredients in separate piles on top.
Dressing: Whisk the lemon juice, oil and honey together and pour over the salad. Season with salt and pepper and serve.