Ryan and I had our dear friend Stacie over the other night to admire our new fence and to play a rousing game of "did I plant that or is that a weed?" To reward her awesome identification skills (and because we love her), we had snacks of cheese and crackers, followed by a dinner of Rosemary Ranch Chicken Kabobs , chopped salad, pita bread, and flourless chocolate cake for dessert.
The menu was a nod to what has been going on in the weather around us ... simple, but hearty, food that fills a person up without making them feel like they need a long winter's nap. (Yes, that even holds true for the decadent cake. It was one of those dense, moist cakes to be eaten in smaller squares rather than gargantuan pieces.)
And the salad? It's making me rethink my hatred of lettuce.
adapted slightly from EatBetterAmerica6 cups chopped romaine lettuce (You can use whatever lettuce you have on hand)
1 medium yellow or green bell pepper, coarsely chopped (I had red, orange and yellow peppers on hand, so I just used those)
1 medium unpeeled cucumber, chopped
3 plum (Roma) tomatoes, chopped
2 oz Genoa salami, chopped (1/3 cup)**
1 can (15 oz) chickpeas, drained, rinsed
1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, halved
1/4 cup very thinly sliced red onion
1/2 cup torn fresh basil leaves***
1 oz Parmesan cheese, shaved***
**Alas! Because I'm preggo, I omitted the salami. Next time!
*** Forgot. Because I'm preggo.
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
In large bowl, toss all salad ingredients except cheese.
For the dressing, I put all ingredients into my little blender and pulsed until incorporated. If you do this instead of using a wire whisk, you don't have to finely chop the garlic. However, you should give it a rough chop - I had chunks of garlic floating in my finished dressing. (Not that I would call that a tragedy.) Also - instead of putting this dressing on the salad and tossing, I served it on the side with other dressing choices.
What was beautiful about this salad was its "anything goes" vibe. Beyond what the dressing called for - I eyeballed, omitted, and substituted ingredients to my heart's content.
To make this into a dinner salad, add about a cup of shredded cooked chicken (I think that some seared steak strips would also be a welcome addition ...).