Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Layered Salad

One of the recipes that stood out to me from Food Matters was the Layered Salad. Mark Bittman gives a recipe, but each ingredient line has different choices. So for the bottom layer you would choose tomato or orange, etc. This is his twist on the classic tomato/mozzarella layering which you probably see quite frequently. In this salad there are several layers, and only one of them is cheese, which makes the idea of a layered salad more in line with his plan for "sane" eating - consuming less animal products. I really like this "diet" because you don't have to deny yourself anything; you only have to learn how to enjoy things in moderation.

For this salad, I layered (from bottom to top): oranges, red onions, feta cheese, peaches, and granny smith apples. The dressing (for which he offers a few variations) is lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper, and two chopped basil leaves. I made this in a small square tupperware to take with me to work. This is just one of many possible combinations for the salad.

In Food Matters, Mark Bittman suggests spending a little extra time when you have it to do prep work like washing and slicing. This way you always have stuff on hand and ready to go, whether it is for snacking or cooking with. These things will keep in the refrigerator for a few days, or you can freeze them. I should have considered that, because I underestimated how long this salad would take me. I did it while getting ready for work, and it took me at least 20 minutes. (If you know me, you know this threw me into a panic and made me almost miss the train... and you also know I prioritized this salad over my hair, putting work clothes on, etc.) Another negative effect of the time crunch was that the top layer, the apple, was supposed to be either chopped finely or grated. I would have liked to grate the apple, but I unfortunately did not have time and had to put small slices on instead.

The combination of ingredients was surprisingly good. The slight saltiness of the feta, plus the salt and pepper in the dressing and the red onion, gives a different taste to this otherwise being a fruit salad. Next time I would cut everything into smaller pieces to get more variety in each bite. The apple definitely needs to be grated and maybe tossed in the dressing to coat it up with lemon so it doesn't brown. I might also use crumbled feta rather than the slices since it was falling apart with each bite anyway. I would also like to try mint instead of basil - I think that would be a very interesting flavor.

I know it doesn't look too pretty in the picture, since it's in a tupperware and there isn't great lighting, but the mix of colors is beautiful and the red onion especially adds to the aesthetically pleasing dish. This could be a great picnic or barbecue salad.

I also have tomato and mozzarella, so I might try another variation of the salad with the more vegetable-y ingredient choices for tomorrow's lunch. But you don't even really need to follow the recipe to make this - you can easily just make up your own stuff. The idea to keep in mind is that you want the bulk of the salad to come from plants, not animals.

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