This is the salad that got me out of a rut.
A not-eating-salad rut. For some explicable reason, the thought of salad had totally consistently repulsed me for, no lie, MONTHS before I volunteered at healthy kids cooking class. And we made a salad—and it changed EVERYTHING.
For the past three weeks, I’ve been making—as Ashlae so perfectly puts it—a big ass bowl of this salad every week. Big enough to last me four or five meals. It just has everything: unwieldy, rubbery kale massaged into an unlikely state of fragrant, silky submission, buried among a wispy mixed greens or crisp pieces of romaine, creamy chunks of caramelized squash, tangy jewels of dried fruit, and clumps of chewy grains dressed in an unbeatably simple dressing.
The cooking class called this a “1-2-3 salad,” which refers to the ingredient elements that make up a complete-meal type of salad:
- Greens: kale, arugula, mixed greens, iceberg, romaine
- Fruits/vegetables/seeds: fennel, dried fruit, roasted squash or other root vegetables, cucumber, tomatoes, seeds, nuts, corn, olives, cheese
- Grains: farro, brown rice, quinoa, barley
I know you hardly need a recipe for salad, but getting excited about this salad has pretty much revolutionized my eating habits and I just had to share in case this gets you excited too. Having a giant bowl of salad in the fridge at all times means that whenever I get snacky and open the fridge, a pretty bowl full of delicious nutrients jumps out at me. It’s like putting the “eat me” label on salad instead of the peanut butter or the crackers or the cookies/muffins/whatever.
I like to dress the entire salad when I make it and leave it in the fridge because I like slightly wilted leftover salad–is that weird? How do we feel about that? I have a feeling most people are all about the fresh salad, but let me know if you’re also in leftover salad camp. I mean I’m not a fan of SOGGY leftover salad…just slightly wilted from a light layer of dressing, you know?
I’m just so excited to be excited by simple, fresh, delicious raw vegetables again. Because we all know cake requires balance. HALLELUJAH.
- This is based off the combination of ingredients we used during class, and my favorite combination to date:
- 1 head kale
- 2 medium heads romaine lettuce or 1 large bag mixed greens
- 1 medium butternut squash or acorn squash
- 1 fennel root, sliced
- ¼ cup craisins, golden raisins, or dried cherries
- ¼ cup crumbled feta
- ½ cup uncooked pearled barley
- For the dressing:
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard, optional
- salt + pepper
Aaand we're going backwards! Start with the "3" ingredient:
Rinse the barley and bring to boil in a medium saucepan with 1 cup salted water. Turn down heat and let simmer for about 45 minutes or until barley is fluffy, tender and chewy. Add more water while cooking if the barley starts to dry out.
Meanwhile, peel and chop the squash into small chunks. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast at 400 degrees F for 30-45 minutes, or until tender.
Once the barley and squash are done, let cool while you wash the kale and lettuce and tear into bite-sized pieces. Add the remaining ingredients, whisk all the dressing ingredients together (or put into a small glass jar and shakeshakeshake until it emulsifies), dress and eat your way to salad heaven!