I almost fell off the bed this morning when I saw that it was December 17th; no, time did not stop for me on my 29th birthday and yes, I’ve been paying attention as the days pass – but the month is halfway over and I can almost count the day to 2014 on my fingers. Man, oh man – it’ almost that time of year. At the office, it means the first quarter of the fiscal year and the directors are making sure that all of our ducks are in a row, crossing their t’s and dotting their i’s.
But, on a more personal level – it’s almost the holidays, meaning whatever free time I thought I had will be gloriously overrun by family, friends and festive celebrations – three of my favorite F words, believe you me! However, since there are only 24 hour in a day and I’m always trying to cram three too many things into it, the one area of my life that I almost ignore when I’m busy is my appetite. And take it from a Pro, that can throw your whole day in a downward spiral if you don’t tackle it in time.
Good new is that I’ve found the perfect, quick and easy fix – in the form of a salad! I know what you’re thinking – silly rabbit, tricks are for kids! True – but this tried and true meal can range anywhere from an appetizer salad to a full meal depending on how stacked you’re willing to make it. One of the best things about salads – minimal prep-time. Simply stock the fridge with your favorite dressing, fresh veggies and then toss some arugula, red leaf lettuce or one of those convenient pounce of mixed green and your kitchen will always be prepared.
Before we go to the next step, expand your mind a bit about what can go into a salad. Since cucumber, tomato and avocado are all fruits, why not toss in some slices of mandarin for a splash of citrus? Why not shred some of your favorite meats and cheeses for a boost of added protein, or add some nuts? The possibilities are endless if you put your mind to it! The salad below is what I like to think of as a ‘next level’-salad – you have the incredible, savory flavor of the blue cheese melding with the sweet, smokiness of the candied walnuts, then the complementary cold and refreshing flavors of cucumber and beets leaves the pallet wanting more. And trust me on that last part – I make this salad at least twice a week now! Now, onto the good stuff.
- 2 bowls – 1 large, 1 medium / small
- cutting board
- sharp knife
- cucumber peeler
- muddler (or, object with a blunt end)
- salad tongs (optional)
Ingredients for 2:
- 1 cup Baby Arugula (or greenery of choice)
- 4 oz Blue Cheese Crumbles (If the taste is a little much, try Goat Cheese or Feta)
- 6 oz Candied Walnuts (chopped or smashed)
- 1/3 Cucumber
- Trader Joe’s Goddess Dressing (or whatever your pleasure may be)
- 6 oz cold Beets
- Last, but not least – beats: I’ve really been digging on Emancipator lately – it’ perfect stop-and-smell-those-roses type of music.
Optional: Upgrade yo’self, because you’re a boss like that:
- Fresh Baby Shrimp ( .5 lb)
- Granny Smith Apples (1 diced)
- Prosciutto (4 slices)
- Ground Pepper + salt (Tsp each)
- Cherry Tomatoes (10-15)
- Scallion slices (enough for flavor; to each their own)
Now, let’s get down to brass tax – and it’s incredibly simple:
- Wash your lettuce / arugula / whatever greens you selected and tear them into edible morsels, toss into large bowl and set aside
- Peel and chop the cucumber and beets (and other juicy veggies), throw into large bowl with greens and mix well
- In a small bowl, take your candied walnuts and your muddler and get your smash on until the pieces have become about a quarter the original size
- separate the blue cheese crumbles in your hand a bit and toss in with the walnuts
- Load the large bowl with dressing, toss for a bit then throw in the content of the small bowl
Voila – your ten minute meal is le served!