I’ve had a lifelong love affair with salad.
So I consider myself a bit of a salad aficionado.
And between all the dieting done here in Los Angeles, and the year round supply of fresh Californian produce, its no wonder.
But in defense of salad-lovin, I’ve been known to convert quite a few salad despising folk over to my camp. That’s probably not you, because lets face it, you’re taking the time to read this salad themed post. But to the one or two of you that are still here, and have you’re doubts, I’m coming after you! It’s just a matter of time…. lol.
So if the Food Network ever created a salad making competition….
…oh its on like Donkey Kong baby!!
No but seriously, as a teen I was the go-to salad maker for family gatherings, and I think it was a great introduction to cooking in that its an experimention with different flavors and textures. So if you’re new to cooking, salad making is a great way to kick start your cooking education. I admit, you’re not technically cooking anything. But, when you make a salad, you’re essentially learning different flavor combinations, how to season properly, and in the end, hopefully how to cook without a recipe; all while eliminating the possibility of burning anything (which takes the pressure off. Nice).
In my many years of back breaking salad research, I developed this simple formula that all my salads follow:
something creamy + something crunchy + something sweet = salad nirvana.
The creaminess adds a decadence to the salad that everyone loves. It could be fresh goat cheese, feta, brie, a creamy dressing, or even sliced avocado. The crunch factor could be crisp lettuce, toasted nuts, or croutons. And the sweet could be dried or fresh fruit, or a little honey in the vinaigrette to balance out the acidity of the dressing.
Of course you have to figure out which combinations of those ingredients taste the best to you, but thats where all the fun recipe experimentation begins!
Today I’m sharing a salad with you that I’ve been making for years. Its a tuna salad thats a favorite of mine. Here’s how it fits in my little formula:
creamy low-fat yogurt vinaigrette/ mayonnaise for the tuna + sweet apple and currants + crunchy celery and apple.
Its a very loose formula, but it works as a basic guideline to any salad that I make.
Start by dicing the celery. Thinly sliced fennel would have been really nice here as well, since fennel and apple is a wonderful flavor combination… but I had celery hanging around so in it went.
add the celery to some finely chopped apple, and tuna
add the currants (raisins are fine too) and thinly sliced green onions and diced pickle. Today, I didn’t have pickles. So to add that important bit of acidity that pickles bring to the mix, I added a few drops of vinegar. You could substitute with a tiny bit of lemon juice here as well.
mix in the mayonnaise and dijon mustard. Season with a little salt and pepper.
For the creamy vinaigrette, combine the olive oil, greek yogurt, red wine vinegar, sugar (or honey), dried oregano, minced shallot, salt and pepper. Whisk until emulsified. If you like your dressing a bit on the sweeter side, add extra sugar or honey
Arrange your large butter lettuce leaves artfully around the place, place some thinly sliced apple around the center, and add the tuna mixture. I also cut up some ripe tomatoes – avocado would be really lovely as well. Drizzle with the creamy vinaigrette and devour.
Tuna and Fuji Apple Salad with a creamy yogurt vinaigrette (serves 2)
with extra Tuna-Apple salad for a sandwich or two
For the Tuna Salad mixture
16 oz canned Tuna in spring water, drained
1 medium sized fuji apple, diced
2 small celery stalks, diced
1/3 cup currants or raisins
3 green onion stalks, thinly sliced, green parts only
1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley
1/4 cup minced sweet bread and butter pickle, or your favorite variety
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
3/4 cup good quality mayonnaise
salt and pepper to taste (salt might not be needed)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons non-fat greek yogurt
1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
2 teaspoons sugar or honey, more or less depending on how sweet you like it
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano or thyme
1 tablespoon minced shallot, or red onion
1/2 – 1 teaspoon salt, 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
Assembling the Salad:
1 medium fuji apple, thinly sliced
1 pint small cherry tomatoes
1 head butter lettuce, rinsed
Directions are pretty simple… just combine all the ingredients for the tuna-apple-celery mixture. Then combine all the ingredients for the vinaigrette, whisk until emulsified and creamy. Assemble the salad on the plate, drizzling with 2 Tablespoons or so of the vinaigrette, serve.