Easy and Versatile Summer Salad

In an attempt to prolong summer, I am adding this post to my blog, which I have actually had sitting on my computer for weeks.  Who knew blogging was a full-time job??  And since I have two full-time jobs already…one that pays me a salary and one that involves making sure my offspring become functioning members of society…the unpaid blogging gig got thrown to the back burner for a little while (much to my disappointment).  Anyone want to pay me to blog?

Anyway, when I woke up this morning and abruptly realized it’s September 1st already, and that means summer is all but over, I knew I needed to get this post up quickly, or I’d have to wait a whole year to post it.  So, here it is:

I was visiting a friend of mine out on the eastern end of Long Island a few weekends ago and, as it approached lunchtime, she suggested we make a salad.  So, I opened her refrigerator and immediately went for the mixed greens.  After all, isn’t lettuce the base of any salad?  But, my friend stopped me in my tracks and suggested we skip the lettuce and make more of a “Mediterranean-style salad”.  And that is the simple story of how my love affair with the “lettuce-less” salad came to be.  I have since made this concoction two weeks in a row and have made enough of the mixture each week to provide me with at least three meals (this week it was two lunches and one dinner).  It’s super simple, only involves a few ingredients, and can be paired with a wide variety of proteins and carbs to make it filling.  Read below for details.  Happy Summer! (Can’t I pretend?)

Salad Base:

–     2 fresh cucumbers, chopped into small (approximately ¼- ½ inch) cubes

–     2 or 3 fresh (vine, heirloom, or beefsteak) tomatoes – don’t get the cheap mealy tomatoes   -chopped into small (approximately ¼- ½ inch) cubes

–     ½ red onion – chopped small

–     A healthy snipping (to taste – the more the better) of FRESH dill

–     A drizzle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

–     A sprinkling of Sea Salt

Here are some options for how to use this delicious base:

1 – Greek salad:

–     Add fresh pitted kalamata olives

–     Add reduced-fat (not fat-free – too high in sodium and other additives) feta cheese

–     Grilled chicken breast (optional)

2 – Greek salad wrap:

–     Add fresh pitted kalamata olives (4-5)

–     Add reduced-fatfeta cheese

–     Wrap in a whole wheat wrap

3 – Greek Yogurt Dish:

–     Combined the salad base with fat-free (or low fat) plainGreek yogurt

–     Added some additional fresh snipped dill

–     Eat with a whole wheat pita or an Arnolds 100% whole wheat sandwich round (optional)

(This was so refreshing – a great summer dish!)

4 – Tuna salad dish:

–     Make tuna salad, using low-fat mayo or vinegar

–     Added the cucumber/tomato salad base to a bowl and then mix in the tuna salad

–     (Optional) Eat it with a whole wheat pita, sandwich thin, slice of bread, or wrap

–     This was so refreshing – the dill complemented the tuna very well!

NOTES:

  • The salad tends to become watery after a day or so – just drain the liquid and it should be fine.

  • Before making these easy and healthy dishes, I would have told you that I wasn’t a huge fan of dill (it reminds me of my Jewish grandmother’s chicken soup…which does not exactly scream “light and refreshing summer dish”).  But, I am now a dill convert!  The dill was definitely the ingredient that stepped this mixture up from boring cucumber and tomato dish to delicious restaurant-quality dish!  I am very happy to add this to my arsenal – it’s a nice break from a lettuce based salad.  Hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

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