Salad Days

8 May

Last weekend, Ben and I caught up with my best friend Stephanie and her husband Brandon. Steph and I met first semester of our freshman year and have been inseparable–even through our often vast geographical separation–ever since. We have been trying to get together for some time and finally were able to plan a four-day weekend.

We live in Oakland and Steph and Brandon live outside of Minneapolis, so we met in the most logical of places: Palm Desert. There was actually a method to the madness: Minneapolis is freezing and Palm Desert is not.  Plus, Steph’s cousin had generously offered to  let us stay in her condo in one of the many gated golf-obsessed communities that line the streets of the desert town. This made the golfers on the trip very happy. The 90+ degree weather and easily-accessible pool and hot tub (because can you ever be too warm?) satisfied those of us who prefer not to swing at balls while wearing funny plaid pants.  Often when Ben and I travel, it’s a trip. It involves unknown entities, bug bites, meandering walks through unfamiliar cities and the occasional near-death experience involving a cliff (there are differing opinions on whether this story is amusing so to stay out of trouble, I’m going to avoid it). Palm Desert was not a trip; it was a vacation in every sense of the word.  There were lazy mornings, vodka tonics by the pool, new shoes crammed into an already overstuffed suitcase and many meals out.  When we got back to reality, Ben and I decided we were in desperate need of some serious exercise and a salad detox. Here are a few of the salads that got us back on the road to healthy living.

Tuna Goes South of the Border

Writing about vacation has made me seriously lazy about proportions so I’m not putting any here. It’s a salad–make as much as you want or need for the amount of people you’re feeding. There’s no real science to it. Just do not dress any salad that you think will be leftover; it will be a wilted mess by the time you have a hankering for leftovers.


Mixed baby greens (or butter lettuce or romaine or whatever else you prefer. I just don’t recommend iceberg. It doesn’t have much flavor)

Green onion, minced

Avocado, chopped

Good quality canned tuna (either in olive oil or in water)

Toasted pumpkin seeds

Cilantro (leave it out if you are one of the many people who thinks cilantro tastes like soap)


Lime juice

Olive oil

Tomatillo salsa

Salt & pepper to taste

Mix your dressing in a large bowl. Pile all salad ingredients aside from the pumpkin seeds on top and toss until the salad is evenly coated. Be sure not to overdress your salad–you can always add more dressing if needed. Sprinkle the seeds on top and you’re done!

Go East Young Spinach


Baby spinach

Shiitake mushrooms, sliced thin

Green onions, minced

Bean sprouts

Red bell pepper, chopped

Tea-smoked tofu, sliced thin (you could use any kind of marinated tofu or you could substitute stir-fried plain tofu, fish or even chicken)

Snow peas

Tamari almonds


Schezuan marinade

Splash each of  rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, rice wine and canola oil

As with the tuna salad, just combine your dressing in a large bowl, top with your veggies and tofu, toss well and top with the almonds.

Rice Gone Wild

This was my desperate attempt to avoid yet another frozen meal at lunch, using leftovers scavenged from the fridge. It turned out to be colorful, quite tasty and a great use for a nub of goat cheese in its final days. There’s not a real dressing as I’m not that coordinated at 7 am.

Wild rice

Walnut oil

Lemon juice

Red bell pepper, chopped

Flat leaf parsley, torn

Mint, torn

Walnuts, roughly broken up

Goat cheese, crumbled

Salt & pepper to taste

Mix together while looking at the microwave in triumph.


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