Have you heard the One Ingredient rule to making the perfect salad? No? It’s simple: never make a salad that is more than 1/3 lettuce. That’s it. Follow that one rule and you will never again make a boring salad.
The problem with most salads is that they’re often nothing more than uninspired, oily leaves of lettuce with a little color from carrots or tomatoes… if you’re lucky. Boring. Tasteless. You can do so much better.
Instead, start by filling 1/3 of your salad bowl with lettuce and then force yourself to find creative ways to fill the rest of the bowl. Not only will the salad be more nutritious (iceberg lettuce isn’t nearly as nutritious as beets or red peppers, for example) but the taste and vibrance will be 1.5 million times better.
This antipasto (appetizer) salad is a great example. It has a little lettuce, but it’s mostly fresh asparagus, chickpeas, freshly roasted bell peppers, and artichoke hearts. Delicious. Eat it as a meal by itself, or make it as an appetizer before, say, a nice mushroom bolognese pasta if you really like your guests.
Makes 3 dinner servings or 5-6 appetizer servings
- 3 cups chopped romaine lettuce
- 2 red/yellow bell peppers
- 1 cup crimini mushrooms
- 10+ asparagus stalks
- 1/2 cup artichoke hearts
- 15 oz can chickpeas
- 1/3 cup kolomota olives
- 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes
- 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 3 tablespoons orange juice
- Sea salt & black pepper
First, roast the peppers and mushrooms. Cut the peppers in half and slice the mushrooms. Add them to an oiled baking sheet and bake at 375º for 15-20 minutes until the peppers just begin to blacken. Meanwhile, cut off the whole tips of the asparagus and slice the stalks into 1/4 inch slices (use both in the salad). Chop the olives in half and gather all the other ingredients.
When the peppers are slightly blackened, remove from the oven and slice into thin strips. Add the peppers, mushrooms, asparagus, artichoke hearts, (drained) chickpeas, olives, sun-dried tomatoes, salt, and pepper into a bowl with several cups of chopped romaine lettuce (remember the 1/3 rule!). Toss everything together until well mixed.
This salad is perfectly fine without any dressing – there’s enough great flavors in the food that you don’t need to hide them. But for some extra acidity and freshness, squeeze a little orange juice over the top with a splash of balsamic vinegar and toss again.
You can serve with crostinis, or thin slices of crusty toast. Buon appetito!