Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Salad for Dinner: Orange Date Vinaigrette and How to Make a Really Great Leftovers Salad

Step 1: Have some greens on hand. (Mixed baby greens with herbs is what I had/used.)

Step 2: Roast some random vegetables or bits of vegetables that have been neglected. Best ones, IMHO: broccoli, winter squash, root vegetables, cauliflower. (I used the remaining half of a butternut squash that I'd had left over from my Mambo Italiano class last week.)

Step 3: Find something crunchy in your pantry, e.g. nuts, seeds, granola, toasted coconut flakes, cacao nibs. (I used the latter and they were kind of magical.)

Step 4: Wait. It's dinner. We should probably have some protein. Fortunately, I had some runner cannellini beans in my refrigerator, as well as some nice crumbly, salty queso fresco. Perfect. Other reasonable options: chicken, chickpeas, lentils, fried or baked tofu, more nuts. Steak? Does anybody ever have leftover steak?

Step 5: Make a really really really delicious, creamy, decadent dressing that makes your salad look and feel and taste like it's decidedly NOT a leftovers salad.

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Like this one. Do it. Seriously. It's wonderful.

Layer/toss everything together and feel spoiled and healthy.

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And afterwards, you might even feel full. Which is always a rewarding feeling when you've opted for salad over grilled cheese and fries.

Orange Date Vinaigrette
Yields: about 1 cup

7 regular pitted dates or 4 pitted medjool dates
1 clove of a shallot (about the size of a half a ping pong ball?) (or about a quarter of a small onion or 2 scallions, white and v. pale green parts)
Juice of 1 medium-large orange
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon mirin or sherry or some other sweet wine you happen to have lying around (or you could use a couple teaspoons more apple cider vinegar + a couple teaspoons of honey or maple syrup or sugar)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon salt

Blend everything in a blender or food processor until smooth and creamy. Add a little more water, 1 tablespoon at a time, if you want a thinner dressing. Store in refrigerator for up to a week.

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