Last Ditch Chopped Salad

Img_6456_4How is that some of the best meals come out of a limited pantry? At the end of a recent week, our stores of produce were depleated. We lacked the energy to muster a last minute grocery store run. And we made a salad out of a meager selection of pathetic produce. Much of it was wilted, brown in spots, usually the sort of thing you would throw away (or compost). Mind you, this stuff wasn’t spoiled, but nowhere near pretty or appealing. And then I thought: it’s crisp in places, the brown can be trimmed off. How about a chopped salad? What followed turned out to be—once dressed, seasoned, and plated—honestly one of the most delicious salads we’ve had in a long time.

a wilted bulb of fennel: the wilted 3/4s discarded. The heart finely chopped.
a wilted bunch of celery: the soggy pieces discarded, the crisp heart and miraculously green tops chopped.
a wilted bunch of romaine lettuce: again, the hearts chopped
some fresh parsley, torn up into bits
a few tangerines: segmented
some slivered almonds: toasted
a red onion: finely sliced into rounds, which were rinsed (to take down the pungency), dried, and then quartered
a few shavings of parmesan
salt and pepper
lemon juice
olive oil

I sliced everything up into uniform little pieces, whisked up the oil and vinegar, seasoned it all, dressed it all, and garnished it with the almonds and parm. We ate it as a side to one of our weekly pizzas (we barely had enough cheese and maybe 12 tiny leaves of fresh thyme to top it with). It was beloved by all (okay, so the kids ate the almonds and tangerines off the top, but the adults totally dug the rest of it).
—Hugh

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