Why is it that in the middle of summer I suddenly find recipes and crave soups, stews, chili's and all things that one wishes to eat in the middle of a cold hard winter. And in the middle of winter I find recipes and crave light salads, cool fruit desserts and all things that one eats in the middle of an interminable hot summer? It's possible that weather in my area, which is relatively easy the entire year (seasons? What are seasons?) and 80 degree weather in the middle of January just makes my seasonal cravings all wacky.
Years ago I used to eat salads like this all the time. They were quick and easy to prepare when I was a single woman. But more importantly they were cheap. A few cans of garbanzo and kidney beans on sale. Some cheap lettuce. Leftover cheese. Of course back then I could eat twice this amount with full fat cheese and actually lose weight. I enjoyed making and eating this, it brought back some memories of me sitting in front of the tv, holed up in my room away from my roommates, chowing on a version of this salad, usually washed down with a coke, usually wearing a t-shirt and shorts, with a cat on my lap. Of course now I'm holed away with my husband in front of the tv, there are two cats, I'm in my pj's instead of a t-shirt and shorts and I no longer wash down my dinner with a coke (or two, ahhh those were the days).
I didn't have any nicoise olives so I used some sliced black olives I had. That was probably a mistake as I wasn't thrilled with their taste in this salad (might be that it didn't mix with the dressing). Now the dressing was very tasty. But it was a glob. The dressing didn't "pour". I think it may be because the balsamic vinegar I used was very expensive and very thick. It didn't "drizzle" on the salad. It plopped. But I just mixed it in with the salad and it tasted great.
The salad didn't have as much flavor as it would have should I have used "full fat" cheese. If you aren't on a diet or trying to lose your "menopot" I would say use the good stuff in this.
This recipe came from the April 2008 issue of Fitness magazine. It's based on a recipe of Bobby Flay's.
(Fitness Magazine April 2008)
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 heaping teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
4 tablespoons canola oil
3 cups finely chopped romaine lettuce
2 ripe beefsteak tomatoes, seeded and finely diced
1/2 cup canned red beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup nicoise olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
3/4 cup mix of 1/2-inch cubes reduced-fat white cheddar cheese and 1/2-inch cubes reduced-fat Monterey Jack cheese (3 ounces total)
White and blue corn tortilla chips for garnish (optional)
Chopped fresh chives, for garnish (optional)
In a blender, blend the vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper until smooth. With the motor running, slowly add the oil and blend until emulsified. Set aside. In a large bowl, toss the lettuce, tomatoes, beans, chickpeas, olives and cheese together; dress lightly with the balsamic vinaigrette. Garnish with the tortilla chips and chives (optional).
Makes 6 servings, 239 calories each.
Note: I used regular reduced fat cheddar, not white. I used regular black olives not nicoise.
Note: I didn't bother with the tortilla chips or chives, though I think the chips would give this a nice texture addition.
Note: Any vinaigrette dressing would work with this.
I plan on making Chopped Salad a regular dish to take to lunch this summer. I'll probably just dress it with Newmans Own Lite Balsamic dressing which is a favorite of mine.