This is a typical conversation between my brother and I:
Me: What’s for dinner?
Him: I dunno. What do you want?
Me: I dunno. What do you want?
Him: I don’t care.
Me: Me neither.
Me: what about ________?
[looks over at brother, who is asleep]
Anyway, sometimes I look for holidays or happenings to get an idea for dinner. Cinco de Mayo? Easy–tacos (while celebrating the Mexican victory over the French, thankyouverymuch). Flyers game last week? Cheesesteaks. Guy Fawkes Day? Fish and chips. Cheesy and cliche? Incredibly, but it helps with the ol “What’s for dinner?” dilemma.
Yesterday held beautiful blue skies and a chill in the air that reminded me of fall. I could almost smell that distinct autumn scent in the air, which is pretty odd, because it’s June. I was also craving a mega salad, so I combined the two.
Does anyone else remember growing up and a salad was not a big deal? For
us, a salad meant lettuce, tomato, and cucumber. Sometimes, if we were good, we got croutons (which I totally pronounce as crow-tins, thanks to the Cosby Show). I have the feelng that this basic salad was commonplace until one day someone decided to put meat and whatever else they had laying around the house in their salad. This has grown to the point where now in some salad entrees, there are more calories than its evil, child molesting uncle, the cheeseburger.
I was shopping last night, having a slight idea of what I wanted to put in the salad so it would have those autumn elements. I was craving an apple, so I decided that would be a good start for my salad. Walnuts go well with apples, plus the texture of nuts in salads are A+. Cheese… ahhh, i think some nice bleu cheese would blend well with the apple and provide just the right amount of bitterness. My brother helpfully added, “What about tomatoes?” Hmmm not really what I was going for, but sure–the grape tomatoes were buy one get one free.
I strolled over to the produce section. I was feeling lazy, so hello bagged greens. I went for an Italian blend; I think it had Romaine, Raddichio, and Arugula. I think. Even better? It was on the special “Let’s haul this shit outta town” rack, so it was cheap.
I suppose this is where I’m going to go on a tangent about cheap food. I’m an advocate of stuff on clearance. My salad blend was pretty cheap because the sell-by date was tomorrow. I like this particular grocery store, because they tend to sell their perfectly good stuff for cheaper instead of just trash it. They have pretty decent (and reasonable) meats for a supermarket–I picked up some hot italian sausage patties (the ground pork ones, not the pre-shaped kind) for 99 cents–I plan on breaking it up and adding it to some sauce for spaghetti. It looked fine but the sell by date was nearing, hence the cheapness.
Back to my salad. Here is what it was all about:
–The green stuff. Lettuce. Salad mix. You know.
–Gala apple, cubed with my brand new Chef’s knife that is super sharp that I got for cheap. Galas were on sale and not too bad looking considering it’s not apple season. Woo.
–Bleu cheese. I got the prepackaged cheap crumbled stuff in the plastic container, because there were no hunks of bleu that were like, under $8.
–Walnuts. Halved walnuts were on sale, woooo. I saw a pretty sweet little package of candied walnuts and cranberries that probably would have been good, but they were way more expensive than the bag of plain walnuts.
–Grape tomatoes. I don’t know how I survived before these became huge (haha, I’m funny). Oh wait–because my mom cooked all my food for me. That’s why!
–Olives (optional). I gotta admit that I put some kalamata olives in my salad because they are a comfort food to me, and I’ve been feeling sorta blah lately. My brother opted against them, because they still had pits in them.
–Grilled chicken breast. We got this big bag from Sam’s Club–they are seasoned mesquite and grilled, you just plop them in the microwave or oven. They are tasty to the extreme, and great for salads or just as a sammich.
–For dressing, we used a rapsberry vinegarette. It was alright, but I think it overwhelmed the salad a bit. I betcha an apple cider vinegarette would be the bomb diggity on it.
–We had premade garlic bread as an accompaniment. Quick and sleazy.
Next time, I think I’d like to maybe add a hardboiled egg to it, or maybe some chickpeas or lentils to make it a little more dense and protein rich to go with the autumn theme. Listen to me, BS’ing about this shit like I know what I’m doing, haha.
Anyway, I totally give it a thumbs up. It was nom nom nom tasty.
–I know I got my ingredients from the grocery store, but the dirt mall (aka farmer’s market) is my best friend in the summertime (sorry to my human best friends… I’ll be pals with you again when it’s cold). My local one combines the elements of flea market, yard sale, and produce stands to make it a true dirt mall. Much of the food (not all) in the summertime is from local farmers, so you are supporting local growers, the produce is not shipped from a thousand miles away so it’s fresher, and it’s cheaper than your local supermarket/Megalomart. You can also buy pirated videos (Because I think we all need a little Girls Gone Wild on VHS in our lives), cheap socks, antiques, and fried chicken livers (I don’t get near that stuff… gross) at my local dirt mall. They also now have a tattoo stand at my local one, which is a total WTF. Also look for your local produce markets if you need your fix of fruits and veggies during a non-dirt mall day. I live in the middle of nowhere, and we manage to have some places with great products and great prices (my dad bought 40 lbs. of bananas for 5 bucks one day because his wife told him to get her some bananas. Hilarity, Pops.).
–I think I’m going to make a summer version of this, replacing the apples with raspberries or blackberries (or even strawberries). The bleu can stay, but maybe a feta and olive combo would make for an interesting combo with a dressing that has lemon. Hmmm…
–I know a lot of people put some sort of dressing on their salads, but I once saw on tv that you should always season your greens. I normally grind some pepper (if you don’t own a pepper grinder, run RIGHT NOW and buy one) and a dash of salt in my salad mix, and I think it does do something to it.
–I looked in the fridge at the salad today and the apples weren’t really brown. I’m trying to figure that one out… hmmm.
–I think this salad would have tasted supremely yummy with some beer biscuits. You can make some awesome homemade rolls using Bisquick, beer, and sugar. If you search the internets for a recipe, you’ll find one. Using a heavier beer in the recipe makes for a good autumn food… those biscuit/roll/muffins and a oven roasted harvest veggies = heaven.
–It’s rainy and yucky here. This morning, I listened to Coldplay. It made me think of when I listened to Coldplay on bleak, rainy days in college. I normally don’t listen to them, but there was something absolutely perfect about listening to them on grey days five years ago. Though my musical palate has been refined a bit more since then, it still feels like a good fit.
That is all. Good day, good night, and Go Flyers!