Salad Monday on Cocktail Party Saturday
December 1, 2007
It feels weird writing about a salad today. That’s probably because I am up to my elbows in preparations for a holiday/birthday cocktail party we are hosting tonight. Well, actually, most of the work for that is already done. When I host a party, one my favorite things to do is create the menu, make the shopping lists and make a preparation schedule. Then I love to start making the food as far ahead of time as possible. You know, to lessen the workload and reduce my stress. Yes, I need help. Anyway, this party for tonight is really shaping up: the birthday cake I baked for myself (shameful, I know) is iced and ready to cut (no! I did not buy any candles for myself!); the pomegranate sangria that proved to be lethal at last year’s party is chilling in the fridge (guess I didn’t learn my lesson the first time); and a slew of hors d’oeurves are perched on their baking trays or in their mini muffin tins, ready to be baked off. Stay tuned for a full report, photos and menus …
Anyway, back to the salad. Because I love the weekend and the indulgences it can bring, I’m often in need of something austere come dinner on Monday night. Or at least something jam-packed with nutrients. Thus, Salad Monday was born at our house several months back. When we began, my salad repertoire was pretty pitiful. In fact, I think seven to eight Mondays in a row featured a mixed greens salad with dried cranberries, steamed green beans, sauteed red onions and blue cheese. Let’s just say it used to be one of my favorites. It’s been banished for a couple months. But typing those ingredients just now makes me think it might be time for clemency …
But when the salad recipes dried up, I started to get creative. One my favorite creations (recipe below, though it’s more of a method than a recipe) was a Southwestern Roasted Vegetable Salad. It was born after one Sunday when I roasted tomatoes and onions for a couple of turkey sandwiches (more on those soon, too — quite a recipe backlog in The Kitchen Sink) and used the leftover veggies the next night for Salad Monday.
I like a lot of things about this salad (beside the fact that it makes me feel virtuous, thus accomplishing one of the main goals of Salad Monday). First, it’s very forgiving–as most salads are. If you don’t have avocado (as you might notice in the photos above, last Monday, I did not have avocados), you can omit it or your might substitute some shredded sharp cheddar (as you also might see, I did so on Monday). Second, it makes vegetables taste delicious, even if it’s the dead of winter (believe me, it was so cold in Chicago yesterday that it felt like the dead of winter, even if it was still November). Finally, it’s an excuse to eat the addictive baked tortilla strips that I either alight atop the salads or serve along the side (I usually do both for my husband!). After the indulgences sure to ensue tonight, I will certainly need a Salad Monday. Maybe that formerly banished mixed greens salad …
Southwestern Roasted Vegetable Salad with Lime-Yogurt Dressing
For the Salad:
1 T. +1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 c. red onion, thinly sliced
5 roma tomatoes, quartered lengthwise
1 c. corn kernels (sliced from a fresh ear if in season; if not, frozen)
1 can black beans (no salt added), drained and rinsed
1 chipotle pepper canned in adobo sauce, minced
1 tsp. garlic, minced
1 tsp. lime juice
1 avocado, diced
½ c. carrot, diced
3 c. spinach
For the Dressing:
1/3 c. non-fat plain Greek yogurt (I love Fage) or sour cream
1 T. Dijon mustard
2 T. lime juice
1 tsp. ground cumin
salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. Spread the onion slices, tomato wedges and corn kernels on the lined baking sheet. Drizzle with one tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, tossing to coat. Roast for approximately 20 minutes, until corn and red onions have started to brown. Remove corn and red onions into a large bowl. Roast tomatoes an additional 10 minutes, or until they are roasted to your taste. Add the roasted tomatoes to the bowl of corn and onions.
Meanwhile, heat one teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil in small sauce pan over medium-high heat. Add the beans, chipotle and garlic; bring to a bubble. Add the lime juice; stir; reduce heat and simmer while finishing the salad. [Note: Keep an eye on them—if they start to look dry, add another squeeze or two of lime juice.]
In small bowl, combine sour cream, mustard, cumin, salt and pepper, stirring with a fork. Whisk in lime juice. Toss spinach in the dressing; divide between two plates.
Add black bean/chipotle mixture, avocado and carrot to the large bowl of vegetables; toss. Top the dressed spinach with the mixed vegetables. Garnish with tortilla strips (recipe follows).
Baked Spicy Cumin Tortilla Strips
2 corn tortillas, cut in strips
1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. ground cumin
¼ tsp ground cayenne
sea salt, to taste
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.
In a large bowl, toss the tortilla strips with the oil, cumin and cayenne. Spread the strips on the baking sheet. Bake for 7 to 10 minutes, or until crunchy. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with sea salt to taste.