I think most cooks have a simple, go-to salad. It requires no thought because it's simple and you make it so often, and it seems to go with everything.
Mine varies based on what I have on hand, but almost always includes roasted almonds. Almonds are a super healthy nut, packed with Vitamin E, fiber, protein, magnesium, calcium, iron and the good fat. We like to keep a bag in the kitchen as a handy snack, although they're addicting, so watch out!
In addition to the almonds, I usually add a few tablespoons of corn kernels or a half can of Mandarin oranges. I'm not a huge cucumber and tomato person, not sure why. In the salad below, I used olives, but Tim wasn't a fan. We went back to corn the next day.
Crushed, roasted almonds (recipes below)
Small can of Mandarin oranges, or corn
1 tablespoon of thinly sliced onion
1 tablespoon grated or shredded Parmesan cheese
Heat oven to 350.
Wash and chop your lettuce, and place in a large bowl. Slice onion and sprinkle over the lettuce.
Place a handful of crushed almonds on a flat baking surface (pie plate or cookie sheet works great), and roast in the oven for 4-5 minutes. Be careful not to burn, and you may need to shake or stir them a bit during their time in the oven. They will start crackling a little when they are close to done, and should be removed from the oven when slightly brown and fragrant.
Add almonds, half a can of oranges or corn (save the other half for a salad tomorrow), and parmesan to the lettuce, and mix well.
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
3-4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup good olive oil (a good oil is very important)
2 teaspoons lemon juice
pinch of oregano
dash of cayenne
salt and pepper to taste
Mix together, and drizzle over salad.
First, by 'crush', I mean crush. I usually have a ziplock bag on-hand of raw almonds that I smashed to bits using my heavy can opener. I'll use some and keep the rest for later, refilling my ziplock sack and smashing again as needed. If you want to be less brute about crushing them, you can zap them in your food processor a couple times.
There are two ways to roast or brown your almonds, whether they are whole or crushed. You could also make a large batch ahead of time, and limit your prep day of. But they're so easy and quick to make, and the smell is delicious, that I do them fresh each time we make a salad.
Option 1: Spread almonds (whole or crushed) on a flat baking surface. Place in 350ºF oven and bake 4-5 minutes for crushed and up to 10 minutes for whole almonds. Stir once or twice to ensure even browning. Remove from oven when they are golden brown and fragrant.
Option 2: Toasting, which better for whole almonds. Place almonds in a single layer in a dry skillet, and turn heat to medium. Stir occasionally, until almonds are fragrant (2-5 minutes depending on the form of almonds you are toasting). If the almonds are blanched, let them turn golden brown; if they have skins, let their skins just begin to crackle.