Whatever your food-related goals are for 2011—even if you haven't got any—there's always room for a few more fresh vegetables in your diet. You know, "mostly plants" and all. And the easier it is to reach for a healthy meal or snack, the more likely you are to do it.
That's why I've been meaning, for years now, to become one of those people who preps a giant salad at the beginning of every week, puts it in a big plastic bag or resealable container, and keeps it in the fridge. Honestly, wouldn't you think that if someone had been aspiring to such a simple goal for, oh, a thousand days or so, she might have done it by now? Especially if she calls herself the Crisper Whisperer?
Yeah, well. A few months ago, I got started. Cold-weather staples like Belgian endive and radicchio were nearing their prime season, and I'd begun to find a wider variety of responsibly grown salad greens like wild arugula and frisée in my market than in winters past. All of which is to say that I'd run out of excuses for dodging the big bag of salad.
The fact is that in less than 10 minutes you, too, can be the proud owner of a big bag of salad. Might I be so bold as to suggest that you, too, are quickly running out of excuses not to have one?
First things first: find yourself a one- or even two-gallon zip-top bag or a large glass bowl with a tight-fitting lid. I recommend the bag approach, because zip-top bags are freakishly good at keeping salad fresh. You won't even need to put it in the crisper, which is good news if your crisper is as jam-packed as mine. And you can reuse the bag from week to week, so The Year of the Salad does not need to conflict with The Year of the Prius, or whatever else you're aiming at in 2011.
Next, gather your salad ingredients. Hearty winter leaves like radicchio, endive, and lacinato kale make for a salad with both personality and longevity, but any greens that are not too fragile should hold up for a week. Chop or tear them into bite-sized pieces and add to the bottom your salad spinner basket. Slice up some carrots, radishes, a bit of red onion, or whatever other hearty vegetables you like in your salad, and add them to the spinner basket, too. Place the basket in the bowl of the spinner, fill it with cold water, and jostle it all around for 30 seconds. Then drain the water, spin the salad completely dry, and bag that baby. Store it in the fridge and serve with your favorite dressing whenever the mood strikes. And trust me, the salad mood could strike at any time when you're this unbelievably prepared.
Though on some level I'd love to see myself as one of those chic, spontaneous eater types, sometimes you just have to embrace a good thing when you find it. I highly recommend you give it a go if you're not already one of those big-bag-of-salad people. I plan to be one for a long time to come—throughout 2011, at the very least.
About the author: Carolyn Cope writes Umami Girl and manages a CSA in New Jersey.