Protein makes the salad the main course
Salads are enjoyed year-round, but they are especially gratifying in the summer when they can be the main event.
The trick to assembling a quick dinner salad is to prepare the greens and dressing in advance, and toss in your own tasty extras just before serving. Add lean protein, pasta and/or beans for a nutritious all-in-one meal.
When grilling, throw on extra steak, chicken breasts, salmon or shrimp, and you’ll have the basis for a great dinner salad the next day. Grilled vegetables such as onions, peppers, zucchini, eggplant, and meaty portabello mushrooms are also terrific additions.
Pantry and refrigerated items to have on hand include good canned tuna, a variety of canned beans (cannellini, garbanzo, black) and your favorite cheeses.
Fresh herbs such as parsley, cilantro and basil and ripe, juicy melon, mangoes and peaches can add sophistication. Shave the kernels from a leftover ear of corn for a little crunch.
When it comes to greens, break out of the romaine and iceberg rut:
• Belgian endive: Crisp and pleasantly bitter, it pairs well with strong-flavored additions such as blue cheese.
• Radicchio: Deep burgundy and slightly bitter, it combines beautifully with Bibb or Boston lettuce.
• Maché: Also called lamb’s lettuce, it has round, bright green leaves and a mildly sweet flavor.
• Arugula: Its small, oak-like leaves have a peppery flavor that stands up to a strong dressing.
Yield:Makes 4 servings.
1/2 cup tomato juice
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
Several drops Tabasco sauce
Fine sea salt
1 or 2 red bell peppers, trimmed, seeded and cut into ¼- inch dice (about 1½ cups)
2 celery ribs, sliced (about 1½ cups)
1½ pounds (25 to 30) cooked large shrimp, peeled and deveined
½ cup minced fresh chives or cilantro
In a large bowl, whisk tomato juice, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco and salt; taste for seasoning and adjust as needed. Stir in peppers and celery. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour for flavors to develop.
Just before serving, add shrimp and toss to coat. Add chives and toss to blend. Line 4 plates with lettuce, and mound shrimp salad on top.
Yield:Per serving: 200 calories (14 percent from fat), 3.1 g fat (0.6 g saturated, 0.4 g monounsaturated), 258 mg cholesterol, 35.4 g protein, 5.9 g carbohydrates, 1.1 g fiber, 378 mg sodium.