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Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Thinking outside of the lettuce.

Faced with the need to plan a week of packed lunches that ALWAYS include a salad, I was stymied.  I had managed to nurse a few lettuce plants along in my cold frame, but the bulk of what was left was made into Flora's last meal (she loved lettuce - the good girl).   I have made the decision to eat seasonally this winter.  You know me - I "heart" a challenge.  I figure I have a well-stocked pantry and am fairly creative, so I should be able to see myself through....100+ salads....hmmm.

The first one I made was with brown lentils, chopped tart apples, chopped, cooked potato, chopped red onion and parsley.  I precooked the potatoes and cooled them, then I presoaked the lentils, heated olive oil in a pan and stirred in curry and sea salt, then added the lentils, coated them in the spices and added water to cover, simmering them until they were just done.  I drained the lentils and cooled them to room temperature.  While the lentils were cooking, I cored and chopped the apples and tossed them with lemon juice.  When everything was about the same temperature, I threw it all together, added some chopped red onion and the surviving parsley from my window box and mixed it well.  Surprisingly good!  You have to admit - it sounds, well, odd.  This made enough to keep me going through three lunches, plus a little for my parents.  I didn't tell them everything that was in it, as sometimes, TMI can cause a more timid person from exploring new taste sensations, if you know what I mean.  I believe that mothers call it "hiding the veggies".

I have a nice head of cabbage in the fridge, more apples, a few oranges, there are dilly beans, corn salsa, pickled beets, tins of sardines and tuna, all KINDS of things.  I have nuts in the freezer, dried cranberries, there is leftover turkey coming up - I think I will make it! 

My favorite way to pack a salad for lunch?  I prepare the dressing and pour a small amount in the bottom of a wide-mouthed Mason jar.  Then I layer the salad, starting with the heartiest ingredients that won't mind a nice dressing soak.  Twist on the lid, and BobsYerUncle!   They can be stored in the fridge for 3-4 days, depending on the ingredients, and all you have to do before eating is shake the jar well.  I was feeling quite smug about this method until I ran across it on the Internet.  I'm still calling it mine.

Do you have some creative salad ideas?  Share!!!!  With 100+ salads ahead of me, I need all the help I can get...

15 comments:

  1. Alas, my salad greens have yet to pop up in the cold frame. You certainly have quite the lettuce challenge.

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    1. CR - Mine were from late summer - forget the fall planting. What is with the lousy germination this year? How about venison salad, chicken salad....

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  2. The jar of salad is a great idea! We still have lettuce in our green house, but I'm not sure how the next batch will do.

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  3. Sure wish my brain was as creative as yours! I just don't have the imagination to think outside the lettuce. (So I'm flagrantly stealing whatever lunch ideas you come up with. Keep 'em comin'!)

    P.S. Do you ever take soup in a thermos?

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  4. How about Pasta Salads, Pasta would keep for several days in the fridge. I have seen several clever ideas with mason jars, cheesecakes and salads are ones I would try.

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  5. I love how you gave Flora your last lettuce; you loved her and she knew it.

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  6. CSL - I may raid Marianne's greenhouse (is that cheating?) if I get desparate. I know she planted lettuce. How was your seed germination this year? Mine was lousy.

    Mama Pea - Yes, ma'am! I do take soup in a thermos. I try to have either a large salad with protein or a small salad and soup.

    TL - Pasta! I think I forget about pasta since I eat gluten free - but quinoa pasta seems to hold up like wheat pasta. That's a good idea. I have baked pumpkin bread in a jar and it turned out great.

    Michelle - I wish it had had magic, healing properties but it did not. I sure hope she did know that I loved her.

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  7. Your lentil salad sounds very good! How about an Asian inspired salad with your cabbage and some rice noodles and peanuts? Also, don't forget to grow your own sprouts right on the kitchen counter! :)

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    1. Candy - That's a splendid idea! I have a great recipe for an Asian Ginger Dressing. I had forgotten all about sprouts! I knew you all were just bursting with good ideas!!!

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  8. I love the salad in the mason jar idea! I love eating seasonally as well, but confess I think of salads as summer foods. Not that we don't need fresh, but I just want to be warm in winter so I always think of soup, LOL

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  9. I'm not too good with salads and getting creative with them. I like salad, but mostly only eat them in the summer and it's just your basic tossed salad. My MIL made one that was lettuce, red onion, and manderine oranges with some sort of dressing and that was really good!
    Other then that I would say soup in a jar!!

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    1. SLF - I tend to eat salads in the winter so I am sure I am getting my 5 veggies a day, or whatever the number is now. Plus, a salad is something that I can eat at room temperature, which is mighty handy for a packed lunch. Soup in a jar! Wonderful idea!!!!

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  10. How about some hummus with carrot sticks? Or baba ghanoush (eggplant dip)? I can eat that stuff with a spoon and it has a nice protein count to keep you going through the day :)

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  11. How timely for me, as we're still harvesting lettuce from the cold frame, too! (and it's yummy, but getting kinda dull around here). Sometimes I use lettuce leaves as wraps for other things, like ground pork cooked with soy sauce/ginger/garlic/sesame oil. Does that count as a salad? ;)

    Jaime

    P.S. So sorry to hear about your sweet Flora :( You did right by her, and I'm sure she knew how much you cared for her. I had to make the same decision for one of our goats during our first year at the farm (although he was clearly suffering) and it was so, so hard! I still remember holding him, wrapped in blankets on the mud room floor, and he nuzzled right up to me just before he passed. Oh, it broke my heart - he was the sweetest goat! But, I did feel he was telling me he wanted to go, and that helped me make peace with it. I hope you have peace about Flora, too.

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  12. Thanks for the good ideas. My lunch ideas are so boring, I should put more effort into them. I love having something made on Sunday that I can use the following week. It makes me feel...competent? Something like that. Time well spent, so I don't end up eating half of a bagel with butter for lunch.

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