All day at my part-time job I see people load up the whole conveyor belt with a cacophony of items and ring up tickets of several hundred dollars or more. However, I’ve seen times when someone brings a whole cartful of produce up to the check stand and comes away with only lightening their wallet by no more than $50. Fresh produce is not just good for you, it’s insanely economical too. Whoever said “eating right” was “so expensive” was obviously buying all the wrong things. (Of course having a salad doesn’t necessarily guarantee you a low-cal meal either!)

For a few weeks now, we’ve taken some inspiration from this Better Homes & Gardens recipe for Chef Salad to refresh our dinners in so many ways at least one night a week. The clean produce inspires us to dream about the long, lazy days of summer ahead. And here in Texas, we get no shortage of long, lazy days of summer! We endure Summer-style weather sometimes long through November so Pumpkin Spice Season often overlaps with Bikini Season. (Sadly I haven’t been ready for Bikini Season in a few years. One day that’ll change!)

There isn’t a clear agreement on the origin of the chef salad, but the consensus seems to be that a chef, taking a stab at preventing food waste, tossed little bits of meat and cheese with a hard-boiled egg and salad greens to round out what would be your average “filler” side-salad. This catapulted it into more of an “entrĂ©e” salad on menus than just something that comes with or starts a meal. This is ingenious actually. It’s the same reason meatloaf was so popular during the Depression and both World Wars’ rationing. It stretched leftover or small portions of meat into something filling and something resembling a main course.

There are so many different ways to mix and match the ingredients, that it’s really not realistic to say you could get tired of it easily. We were able to mix and match ingredients in such a way that we enjoyed a different salad on six different nights from one recipe. I’m sure there are countless other ways, but for the sake of checking this one off and moving on… It was nice to have something easy and delicious to throw together while we’ve been busy! Oh, and by-the-by, having this OXO Good Grips Salad Spinner recommended by America’s Test Kitchen has made all the difference!

I liberally interspersed iceberg with red and green leaf lettuces along with romaine and fresh spinach… Canadian bacon, shredded rotisserie chicken and turkey from the deli, strips of fresh grilled beef and lamb steaks, bacon… Slices (or shreds) of good quality cheeses… Tomato wedges or the Sprinkles I’ve become so crazy about… Red and green sweet peppers… Texas Toast croutons or homemade… And a variety of store-bought and homemade dressings.

What goes in your favorite salad?

Currently Reading: Women’s Health, June 2019 Issue


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