Written by Alan Zox Friday, 26 October 2012 00:00
Today’s heightened concern about nutrition and healthy eating has made the salad more important than ever. We are fortunate to have available to us a variety of greens and dressings, limited only by our imaginations and appetites.
The different types of greens now available in most grocery stores offer many opportunities to experiment in combination with creamy or plain oil and vinegar dressings of many kinds. Most greens are even found locally in colder climates given the popularity of indoor growing including arugula, chicory, endive, mesclun, romaine, radicchio, and spinach among others.
Yet consuming salads is still a challenge to many who are not in the habit of having greens as an accompaniment to lunch or dinner—much less as a primary meal. A sandwich and a drink or meat and potatoes used to be it. But this is changing too, as McDonald’s, Burger King and even Taco Bell among other fast food restaurants are encouraging new eating habits by offering greens alone or with chicken, beef or seafood. Now it is true to say that salads are no longer a food eaten primarily by men or women watching their diets or by health food fans who recognize the low fat, tasty potential of salads.
Italians have been eating greens for years. It’s part of their first course they call the antipasti which often include dried meats and vegetables as well. The French emphasize the way salads are dressed. The International Herald Tribune writer in Europe, Patricia Wells, tells us that the French expression, “fatiguer la salad” is used to mean to dress until the greens are fatigued or exhausted— until the dressing is absorbed.
I didn’t realize how much I enjoyed salads until living in a developing country after college where the water use was restricted because of pollution. Water was not recommended for drinking or washing vegetables, greens or fruits. Being denied what I took for granted not surprisingly increased my appetite even more. I returned stateside with a yen to eat all things green especially the popular iceberg lettuce, which had been the only lettuce available. This is no longer the case but today iceberg salads with Roquefort and bacon have again become a popular treat in pubs, cafés and fine dining establishments. At home it can be prepared quickly, inexpensively, and with fewer calories while maximizing taste.
“The Popular Iceberg Lettuce Salad”
Ingredients (Serves 4)
1 medium head of iceberg lettuce cut into wedges, 2-3 inches wide
6 ounces (1 ½ cup) chilled blue cheese, crumbled - preferably Roquefort
½ cup plain yogurt
2 slices of hickory smoked bacon, cooked crispy
2 plum tomatoes, diced after squeezing out the juice and seeds
1 tablespoon minced fresh chives
¼ tablespoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
Combine the salt, lemon juice, zest and yogurt and refrigerate. Using a dry sauté pan, cook bacon until brown and crisp. Then roughly chop and set aside. When ready to serve, place 2-3 wedges of the lettuce on separate plates. Stir the yogurt dressing briskly with a fork and pour about 2 tablespoons over the wedges as you like. Sprinkle the diced tomatoes and chopped bacon on top. Season to taste. Dressing will last up to a week in the refrigerator. Add capers and sliced black olives as a variation.