A salad is an interesting dish. It is so basic yet so very diverse in combinations. One can make a spinach salad with feta, toasted pecans, halved grapes, and a raspberry vinaigrette. Or a mixed greens salad with pine nuts, tomatoes, parmesan, and olive oil might be the salad to whet the appetite. Then of course there are the old standbys: caesar, cobb, and (the salad that makes me groan with disgust) iceberg lettuce with ranch dressing and whatever bland vegetables might be nearby.
I love salads. In recent weeks my love of salads has deepened simply because I decided to eat more of them and my body loved me for it (raw plants really are the way to go for abundant energy). But can I just say how difficult it is to find a pleasing salad at a restaurant or grocery store, in the event, say, that one runs out of time to make one at home before heading to work?
Last week I bought a pear and gorgonzola salad. It was delicious! Pears steeped in balsamic vinaigrette. Shredded carrots. Mixed greens of such a delicious and diverse nature. Poppy seed. The gorgonzola! Pecans and blueberries! I am eagerly awaiting tomorrow’s lunch just thinking about it! But here’s the rub: I am a vegetarian in a meat-obssessed world.
Don’t panic. This is not a post that is attempting to convince readers to give up meat.
The trouble is, I paid about $10.00 for that salad because it is supposed to come with both chicken and bacon but even though I ordered it without those ingredients, I still had to pay for the meat. Meat is expensive. I honestly don’t know how people eat so much meat, it is so pricey!
It is simply ironic when a vegetarian orders a salad but has to pay for meat she doesn’t consume.
And today, I bought a salad from a grocery store. It was not my preferred place for a salad, but alas I was strapped for time today. The package said it was a “Spring mix and berry salad.” Reading the ingredients I found it contained mixed greens (including romaine and chard among others. Chard is such an interesting plant!), blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, walnuts. So far so good. In addition was a raspberry vinaigrette dressing. Honestly, I’m not that keen on any dressing except extra-virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar, but the raspberry didn’t seem too bad.
At lunch I opened my salad, poured the dressing, and dug in. I was disappointed but not too shocked to discover the walnuts were caramelized. The dressing full of some sort of sweetener. Why a salad that is already full of sugary fruits requires sugared walnuts and a sugary dressing is beyond me. But so is too often the case.
My point in writing this is not to go on a tirade against the food industry (though I could easily do so and frequently do in person). It is more to express frustration at the complication of something that is so simple: a salad. Just raw leaves, raw fruits or vegetables, a light dressing, maybe some nuts. That is all that is required. The best part is the sheer raw power of it! And yet it is constantly complicated.
I really just want a salad. Plants, nuts or seeds, and olive oil. So simple!
And thus my salad manifesto may come to an end. May we all simplify and raw-ify.