My favorite salad of all is one that my family refers to simply as “Big Salads.” This is just a bed of whatever greens you have on hand and whatever vegetables are in the fridge. Take extra care to prepare each ingredient to highlight its best properties; for instance, lightly steam the heartier vegetables for just a minute or two to the point where they are still perfectly crisp and just barely cooked.
Pay attention to texture as well – raw beets and carrots are delightful additions if you grate them, and they grab onto your salad dressing very differently than if you’ve diced them. In fact, if you prefer diced beets, I would definitely par-boil them for a few minutes (after you’ve diced them) to enhance the flavor.
Putting it All Together:
On individual plates, arrange a bed of assorted lettuces and/or greens such as chopped collard greens, beet greens, or kale, about 2 cups per plate.
Arrange a variety of vegetables on top of your greens, such as:
Cherry tomatoes, halved
Cucumber, halved and then thinly sliced
A handful of garbanzo or other beans
Sliced radishes (I especially love purple daikon radishes)
Grated raw carrot
Grated raw beets
Chopped red cabbage
Pepperoncini or sweet cherry peppers
For the following vegetables, I recommend cutting them into bite-sized pieces and then steaming or blanching them for just a minute or two, then rinsing them in ice-cold water to quickly chill them. Make sure that they’re well-drained before adding them to your salad to avoid sogginess:
Fresh green beans
A small potato, sliced
I always also include some sort of protein in my Big Salad, such as a sliced hard-boiled egg, leftover sliced roasted chicken, some roughly crumbled feta cheese, or a can of drained, water-packed tuna.
Some optional salad toppings are roasted sunflower seeds, dried cranberries, capers (especially nice with tuna as your protein), or roasted pumpkin seeds.
My favorite Vinaigrette:
2/3 cup olive oil
1/3 c apple cider vinegar
1 tsp dried oregano
1 small clove garlic, crushed, or ¼ tsp dried garlic powder
1/3 tsp kosher salt
Generous amount of freshly ground pepper
Whisk together to emulsify and dress your salad to your personal taste preference.