This ro­bust salad is fit for a full meal

The Hamilton Spectator - - OUR PULSE - JU­LIA MOSKIN

A big salad is a mod­ern so­lu­tion to the home cook’s eter­nal ques­tion: how can an en­tire tasty, nour­ish­ing meal be packed into one bowl?

Now that so much fresh pro­duce is avail­able year-round, sal­ads can serve as a worthy din­ner op­tion, one that sat­is­fies many tastes.

Com­bine fresh, frilly greens, raw and cooked veg­eta­bles, beans, grains, nuts and seeds for a ve­gan din­ner. Add cheese and eggs for a com­plete veg­e­tar­ian meal. Stud­ded with fish and seafood, diced steak or roast chicken, even sliv­ers of char­cu­terie and duck con­fit, a salad can be a feast for om­ni­vores.

Salad is a deeply per­sonal thing. There is no magic to putting to­gether a great one, only a will­ing­ness to ex­per­i­ment. You prob­a­bly don’t even need a recipe — there’s one here, though, just in case — but there are some rules to fol­low.

Start with stur­dier greens, like ro­maine: soft let­tuces like Bibb or mesclun tend to get squashed. Lo­cal pro­duce is usu­ally fresher and tastier, but if a spe­cific in­gre­di­ent, like an av­o­cado makes you happy and is within reach, add it.

And while it may be tempt­ing to throw in ev­ery­thing in the re­frig­er­a­tor, a se­lec­tion of six to eight in­gre­di­ents, be­fore top­pings and dress­ing, is about the most your palate can han­dle be­fore the flavours be­come murky.

As for a dress­ing, look for one that is well bal­anced, fall­ing be­tween creamy and tart, salty and sweet. A dress­ing with a rich el­e­ment, like av­o­cado, tahini, yo­gurt or cheese, helps ev­ery­thing come to­gether nicely.

Don’t just driz­zle it on top, ei­ther. You want all the el­e­ments to be nicely com­bined and coated, as in a potato or mac­a­roni salad. Toss­ing with light plas­tic or wooden spoons works well, but if you re­ally want the best re­sults, roll up your sleeves, wash your hands and dig deep.

Fi­nally, it’s never a bad idea to toss some­thing crunchy, like nuts, crou­tons, radishes or pop­corn on top.

Big Salad with Grains MAKES 1 SERV­ING

2 cups sturdy salad greens, such as ro­maine, ice­berg, es­ca­role or kale ½ cup cooked grains, like quinoa, farro, bul­gur wheat or bar­ley 1 cup roasted veg­eta­bles, like pota­toes, sweet pota­toes or win­ter squash ¼ cup thinly sliced raw veg­eta­bles, like bell pep­pers, cel­ery, car­rots, fen­nel, mush­rooms, onions, radishes, snap or snow peas, sum­mer squash or toma­toes ¼ cup salad dress­ing, like yo­gurt, tahini or a vinai­grette, plus more to taste ½ av­o­cado, thinly sliced 1 hard-boiled egg, peeled and halved 2 tea­spoons snipped chives, plus more to taste 2 tsp sliced or chopped nuts, like al­monds, wal­nuts, pecans or hazel­nuts, plus more to taste Whole-grain bread, for serv­ing

Time: 10 min­utes 1. Place greens in bottom of serv­ing bowl. Add grains in an even layer over greens. Re­peat with the roasted veg­eta­bles, then the raw veg­eta­bles.

2. Top with dress­ing, and toss gen­tly. Fan out av­o­cado on top on one side of bowl.

3. Place hard-boiled egg pieces on the side op­po­site the av­o­cado. Top with chives and nuts. Serve with whole-grain bread.

KARSTEN MO­RAN, NEW YORK TIMES

A big salad is a mod­ern so­lu­tion to the home cook’s eter­nal ques­tion: How can an en­tire tasty, nour­ish­ing meal be packed into one bowl?

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