Tuesday, January 11, 2011

More than Rabbit Food Part 1 - Ham and Spinach Salad with Champagne Vinaigrette

Happy 2011! With the New Year comes many resolutions: learn an instrument, mend relationships, read more books, and the ever-popular, lose weight. Being overweight myself I’ve tried many different times to lose weight by many different methods. But the thing I dread most is having to change what I eat.

Maybe it’s because inside I’m really still 6 years old and want to eat what I want, when I want, as much as I want, or I’m holding my breath ‘til I turn blue. While that is definitely true, I think it also has something to do with supposed “health food” being, well, boring. Don’t get me wrong, this whole blog is dedicated to eating as often as possible out of your garden and in season, and anything you take out of a garden you’ve shown tender-loving-care to is going to be so delicious you can’t help but eat healthy.

Maybe it’s not the food itself, but the preparation that gets me down. Go to almost any restaurant, look at their salads and you’ll see an ocean of iceberg lettuce with the same old watery cucumber and under ripe tomato, topped with, if you’re lucky, a bland chicken breast.

None of those ingredients in and of themselves are bad or boring (well, maybe the iceberg), but when it’s the same old thing time after time it’s no wonder I’d rather go for deep-fried whatever. The perception many people have, including myself at times, is that to eat healthy you can never eat anything interesting ever again. To counter this mind-numbing monotony, the next few posts are going to be about salads you can make which are not only delicious, but diverse and interesting enough to make you want to eat them all the time.

Part 1 is probably the simplest salad, but really refreshing and satisfying. Great as a first course or side dish, or make a huge amount for a dinner portion. It is also great with leftover meat like ham, chicken, or beef.

Ham and spinach salad with Champaign Vinaigrette

-1 Cup of shredded leftover meat of choice (we chose ham)
-2-3 cups of baby spinach (you can chop the spinach or leave it as is)
-1 Stalk of celery cut into ¼ inch pieces (remember to also use the inside leaves of the celery-they have a wonderful flavor)
-1 carrot peeled and chopped into ¼ pieces
-1/2 Portobello mushroom chopped into ½ inch pieces
-1 red bell pepper
-1 minced shallot
-1/2 apple chopped into ¼ inch pieces (make sure to put a little lemon juice on these and a pinch of salt)
-1 clove of garlic-grated
-Handful of feta cheese
-1/4 cup of chopped pecans
-Pinch of salt and pepper


-1 tablespoon of Champaign vinegar or vinegar of choice
-3 tablespoons of olive oil
-1 teaspoon of mustard (Dijon)
-Salt and pepper
-Dried basil

Directions for salad:

Either roast or hold the sweet pepper or bell pepper over a flame. Once skin is charred, put pepper into a bag for 5-10 minutes. Then take it out of the bag, peel the skin off and dice the pepper. Then make sure you have cut up all of your veggies and shredded your ham.

Now you can make your dressing. Wisk together the vinegar and mustard. Slowly add the olive oil and wisk vigorously. Once you have obtained desired thickness add salt, pepper, and basil to taste.

At this point you need 2 mixing bowls. In one mix all of your veggies and add salt and pepper to taste. In your second bowl put your dressing at the bottom of the bowl and add the veggies and mix.

Plate the salad: In your bowl or dish of choice add your veggie mix. The place shredded ham on top. Finish with the pecans and feta cheese a little drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper.


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