Hiya friends! I recently had an epiphany. I share creative and unusual recipes on this site with every post. BUT, I have never shared my every day go-to salad! With that said, I’m really excited to present to you, the most popular dish I make at home. Of course, there are many- probably hundreds of variations to this salad, and this is just one example. I prep this salad every night before I go to bed and take it to work in the morning. It only takes a few minutes, and you never have to eat the same thing! It’s easy to switch it up.
Depending on where you live, you may have an array of options for lunch. I’ll go out on a limb here and say that 9 out of 10 times, the options you have are not healthy nor are they cost effective. Making a plant based salad yourself will usually cost you under $5 and will take approx 10 min of assembly or less (excluding cooking the beans if you choose to do that yourself). The only so called “rules” of the salad are that it should ideally contain a protein, greens, neutral veggies, a bitter component, some acidity, and some crunch (sounds like a lot but I promise, it’s not). I’ve broken it down below (keep in mind, these are the basic principles, there is of course always room for diversion!)
Here are the components of the salad:
- protein (examples include blackbeans, chickpeas, french lentils, beluga lentils, northern beans, mung beans, etc)
- veggies (examples include roasted sweet potatoes, corn, tomatoes, onions, grated carrots, radishes, cucumbers, zucchini, etc)
- pickled or fermented veggies (examples include sauerkraut, pickled onions, pickles, marinated olives, capers, etc)
- dressing- base of miso, oil and acid such as lemon juice or apple cider vinegar (examples include ginger-miso-garlic-lemon-evoo, orange juice-shallot-miso- evoo, tahini-miso-umeboshi-acv-evoo)
- nuts or seeds (examples include pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, pine nuts, sesame seeds, slivered almonds)
- greens (massaged kale, mesclun, arugula, spinach, etc)
- bitter component (this can be in form of arugula, endive, dandelion greens, kale, sesame seeds, etc)
For the past few years, I’ve been making these salads for hubby and myself to take to work every day. Eating out in general but especially NYC is pricey, but most importantly, by eating out you are potentially sacrificing the quality of the food you are consuming. You don’t have control over the ingredients the restaurant or cafe is using or where they are getting them from, how fresh they are, and whether they’re washed, etc. When you buy your own produce, you are in full control of all of these components- that puts you in a great position to take control of your health.
What I like most about these simple salads is that they don’t require much brain power. I have ritualized the act of making the salad every night, so I no longer have to really think about it. I throw in the veggies that I have in the fridge, and whip up the dressing quickly in the morning so that its nice and fresh for lunch. In fact, I’ll sometimes bring the salad in a mason jar, which means that I layer all of the components of the salad. My colleagues like to call this my “terrarium” salad. At lunch time, I simply dump all of the ingredients into a bowl, mix well, and scarf it down. What’s your favorite kind of lunch-time salad and what’s your ritual to ensure that you regularly bring your own lunch to work?
Simple Lunch Salad
- 1 cup dried lentils
- 3 radishes, sliced thinly by hand or mandoline and cut in half moons
- 2 carrots, sliced thinly with peeler or mandoline
- 1 endive, sliced thinly
- 1 bell pepper, small dice
- 2 handfuls of spinach or green of your choice
- 2 tablespoons of sauerkraut (my favorite is from hawthorne valley farms, local to NY)
- ¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
- herbs for garnish ( I used a tiny bit of parsley)
- Simple tahini dressing:
- 1 tablespoon tahini
- 2 teaspoons evoo
- 1 teaspoon mello white or chickpea miso
- 2 tablespoons water
- lemon juice to taste
- Boil the lentils with 2 cups water until soft but not mushy, approx 25 min. Cool completely.
- To make dressing, combine all ingredients and mix until emulsified. For the salad, combine all veggies and mix well. Add the spinach or other greens, and drizzle in the dressing. Garnish with pine nuts and any herbs if desired.