If You Can Call it a Salad
June 20, 2008
This is the kind of salad that is at all times on the brink of losing its status as a salad. It’s the kind of salad that has a 1:1 ratio of virtuous vegetables to decadent elements. It’s the kind of salad that allows you to couple each bite of lettuce or carrots or celery with crisp bacon or creamy avocado or pungent, smooth blue cheese. It’s the kind of salad you can order in a bar.
Which is fitting, because we ate this salad on our deck. And, lately, our deck is my favorite bar in Chicago. In the past couple weeks, we have had countless opportunities for cocktails up there at sunset, usually followed by a lingering dinner as the lights in the tall buildings downtown start to twinkle (if we can’t have stars, at least we have this), conversations meandering and laughter rising and falling.
(Click “more” for the rest of the story, more photos & the recipe.)
But the night of this not-so-salad (which was, of course, a Salad Monday), it was just Kevin and me. Which was quite lovely: more slow and relaxed and routine. I’ve been savoring these nights recently, because the summer nights so often fill up with people and plans and passed bedtimes. Besides, it wouldn’t have been polite to pick out all the bacon-avocado-blue cheese bits in front of guests.
In addition to being the kind of salad you can order in a bar, this is also a salad open to infinite variations. Add whatever vegetables you are craving (or whatever vegetables are languishing in your crisper). I also like cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, radishes. You can also switch up the meat (grilled flank steak or shrimp would be great) or forgo meat all together. And any dressing will do: creamy or sweet would work too. But I like this grassy chive vinaigrette.
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 lemon, juiced
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon minced chives
salt and pepper (to taste)
1 head romaine lettuce, chopped
1 grilled boneless, skinless chicken breast half (we used this recipe)
1 grilled ear of corn, kernels shaved off the cob
2-3 strips cooked center cut bacon, crumbled
1 avocado, pitted, peeled and diced
1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped English cucumber
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons blue cheese, crumbled
In the bottom of of a large salad bowl, whisk together the mustard, lemon juice, olive oil, chives, salt and pepper. Toss the chopped romaine in the dressing. Arrange the romaine on a large platter. Arrange piles of the remaining salad elements on top of the romaine and serve.
Yield: 2 Main Dish Salad Servings