My dear friend Tifanie sent me a great story about her recent adventures making composed warm salads. I was so happy to think of her humming around her new Manhattan kitchen with arms full of blue potatoes and heirloom this or that tossing it with abandon into effortlessly chic (just the same as she does everything) and delicious piles of goodness.
It got me thinking about the composed main-course salad on the whole as being a great way to throw together something relatively easily for unexpected company on a Sunday afternoon using whatever is available in your kitchen. For those of us for whom "composed" or "chic" aren't exactly "effortless" (me, very notably) it seems to me all you have to do is follow a formula for success...
Over a bed of greens layer 2 or more of the following elements:
A protein: grilled chicken or steak, chickpeas, poached fish, soft-boiled eggs, you name it.
A starch: boiled potatoes, wild rice box mixes, Israeli couscous, small-sized pasta.
A cooked vegetable: sauteed French green beans, beets with citrus fruit, caramelized onions.
Just locate items in your kitchen that are similar to these, cook it up separately, then pile on a plate and serve to guests! Healthy, delicious, and only one plate to wash! Your friends with be in awe of your talents in the kitchen, and your consideration for their fat intake...and most importantly, they will never need to know that moments before they dropped by you were eating potato chips in sweatpants and watching cartoons. Everybody wins!
For this version I used just exactly what I had lying around the kitchen to throw this together:
Recipe: Asian Potato & French Green Bean Salad
What I had for the greens...
4 1/2 Mixed mesclun salad greens
What I had for the Potatoes...
3 Russet potatoes, cubed and boiled
Small handfull of fresh chives
1 tsp sesame oil
What I had for the Green Beans...
2 cups frozen French green beans (I love the Trader Joe's brand!)
Small handful of slivered almonds
1 clove of garlic
1 tsp Szechuan peppercorns (use black and some red pepper flakes if you don't have this)
1 tsp orange zest
1 Tbsp ponzu soy sauce (or mixing regular soy w/a squeeze of lime/lemon juice gets you close)
What to do with it all...
For potatoes simply toss all ingredients and set aside.
Heat vegetable oil in medium pan and add almonds and frozen green beans and sauté for 5 minutes, covered, on medium. Add the rest of your ingredients and sauté for another 10 minutes until cooked.
Serve immediately over greens and topped with potatoes!