Recently, the name of the game around here has been soup, so it's only natural that we show some love to soup's first and foremost soulmate: salad. Soup and salad are as natural a pair as peanut butter and jelly or macaroni and cheese, but I see it as somewhat of an unsung hero.
While you can really only do so much with peanut butter and jelly (read: slap between some bread). With soups and salads you can take just about any of your favorite meats, herbs, seasonings and vegetables and turn them into a well-rounded, satisfying - and most importantly, quick and simple - meal.
Weeknights are especially good for salads - I always buy lots of produce on the weekends in hopes that it will last through the week before it starts to wilt, bruise or spoil. Since lettuce alone doesn't make for the most filling meal, I usually add some form of protein to salads: my favorites include chicken, cannellini beans or egg whites.
In the event that you forget to take out chicken to defrost and you're fresh out of eggs, sometimes a hearty root vegetable can add substance to your salad in a pinch. I made this for myself but the recipe could easily be multiplied to feed more.
Sweet Potato Chopped Salad
3 cups red leaf lettuce, torn (about half a small head of lettuce)
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 yellow bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cucumber, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup fresh mango, diced
Grape tomatoes (generous handful)
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into chunks
1/4 cup lower-sugar maple syrup
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
Splash soy sauce
1. Preheat oven to 475F. Toss cubed sweet potato in a small bowl with maple syrup, brown sugar and soy sauce. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with nonstick spray (I used the foil + cooking spray to make clean-up easier but if you have a preferred method for roasting that would work too). Arrange potatoes on sheet in a single layer and roast until potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork (20-25 minutes in my oven).
2. In the meantime, combine chopped cucumber, peppers, tomato and mango. On a large cutting board, chop lettuce into small pieces and toss in a large bowl with mango mixture. Once cooled, top salad with potatoes and drizzle with your dressing of choice.*
*I found that the sweet potatoes and mango added so much flavor that I didn't need dressing but a light viniagrette adds a nice touch.
My favorite part of this salad was the palette of fresh, bright colors on the plate - perfect for those dreary winter months when you're craving something on the sweeter side but fighting the urge to dive headfirst into a gallon of mint chocolate chip.
And ha ha ha ha no, I'm not speaking from experience.
What are your favorite salad fixings?