By Ernest Barteldes
One thing that most people love about salads is their simplicity: get two or three vegetable, chop them up, add some kind of dressing and viola: you have a light meal or a perfect side that pairs with pretty much everything from a grilled cheese sandwich, chicken soup or even a more sumptuous meal. In some cultures, salads are even part of a hearty breakfast.
I don’t usually make them during weekdays because our meals are always prepared a day early and placed in containers for next day’s lunch, and by the time I get home from work it’s just too late to be chopping and dicing. However, on weekends I do like to prepare salads that go from simple three-ingredient mixes to more elaborate concoctions that take more than just choosing a dressing to with it.
Among my favorite “easy” salads are the ones I prepare for picnics during the summer – like potato, onion and celery salad seasoned with salt, pepper, rosemary, lime juice and hot pepper sauce, and simple cold noodle salad with mixed vegetables and store-bought Thousand Island dressing that takes but two minutes to prepare and pretty much go with everything.
Another option for picnics is a Cajun rice salad made with cooked rice (duh), chopped celery, red onions, red and green peppers and a vinaigrette made with Creole spice mix, vinegar, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Those not big with spicy food can omit the last ingredient – it’s a bold dish that almost stands alone as a meal on its own.
But what I really like are salads that take some extra effort – you know, really getting the ingredients right and waiting some time to allow the flavors to blend. Sure, they might be pretty labor-intensive, but since I only make more elaborate dishes once a week, why not go all the way and have some fun with it?
Here is an example that is not too much work: an Oriental-flavored tuna and pea salad that has become a staple of sorts at our household because it’s one of Renata’s absolute favorites and also because I can serve it as a main course during, say, a Saturday lunch when we are not too busy with too many activities.
Oriental tuna salad
Source: Grandma’s Kitchen
- 1 (10-ounce) package frozen peas, thawed
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon each soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce
- 1/4 teaspoon each curry powder and garlic powder
- 1 cup sliced celery
- 1 (6-ounce) can sliced water chestnuts, drained
- 1/4 cup sliced green onions
- 2 (6-ounce) cans water-packed tuna, drained
- 2 ounces slivered almonds
- 1 (5-ounce) can chow mein noodles
Place peas in enough boiling water to cover in a large heatproof bowl. Let stand for 1 minute; drain. Rinse with cold water; drain well. Set peas aside. Mix mayonnaise, lemon juice, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, curry powder and garlic powder in a large bowl. Following that, flake the tuna and add the peas, celery, water chestnuts and green onions to the mayonnaise mixture and mix well. Fold in the tuna. Chill salad, tightly covered, for 5 hours. Sauté the almonds in a small skillet over medium-high heat until browned, about 5 minutes. Add the chow mein noodles to the salad and mix gently. Line a salad bowl with lettuce, if desired. Spoon salad into the salad bowl. Sprinkle with almonds. Serve immediately