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Everyone's Favorite Salad

By Catherine Newman

Makes: 4 servings

Total carbohydrates: 8 grams per serving

Hands-on time: 10 minutes

Total time: 10 minutes

When someone asks me to please bring a salad – which happens a lot, actually – this is the salad I bring. Because everybody, at some point during the meal, will say, "Oh my god, this salad is so good! Why is this salad so good?" And it's kind of hard to explain why, given that it's such a snap to make. But the combination of the very slightly sharp onions and the very slightly spicy, vinegary peppers along with the salty, creamy cheese makes this pretty much magical. You could add Chickpea Croutons, or black olives or sliced celery (I've done all of these things), but this is pretty perfect just the way it is, as long as you don’t try doing something crazy like skipping the pepperoncini. (And please note that these are pickled mild peppers, NOT the meat that goes on pizza.) Also? You should make the dressing and the pickled onions, because they will add around 3 minute to your prep time and be totally worth it.

Ingredients

1 head romaine lettuce, chopped

1/3 – ½ cup bottled Italian dressing or Italian-Style Vinaigrette (see below)

¼ red onion, sliced (or ½ recipe Easy Pink Pickled Onions, below)

1/3 cup deli-sliced pepperoncini (I like the Mezzetta brand – these are easier to find than it may sound, since they’re usually right in the pickle aisle of your supermarket)

½ cup crumbled feta

Instructions

  1. Put the lettuce in a salad bowl, and toss with 1/3 cup dressing.

  2. Add the rest of the ingredients and toss again. Taste a piece of lettuce. If it needs more dressing, add it and toss again.

Italian-Style Vinaigrette

Whisk, blend, or shake up in a lidded jar 1 clove garlic, minced or pressed (or ¼ teaspoon garlic powder), 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar, 1/3 cup olive oil, 1 teaspoon kosher salt (or ½ teaspoon table salt), ½ teaspoon dried oregano, 1 tablespoon mayonnaise. Refrigerate up to a month.

Easy Pink Pickled Onions

These are so easy to make and once you have them, you’ll reach for them all the time – for salads, wraps, a cheese platter, snacking. . . If you have a jar of pickling brine leftover from something – pickles, pepperoncini, banana peppers – you can just stick the onions right in that! Waste not want not, as my grandmother used to say. Otherwise:

Bring to a boil ½ cup white vinegar and 1 teaspoon kosher salt – do this either in a small pot on the stove, or in the microwave, right in the mason jar you’re going to put the onions in. Add 1/2 a red onion, sliced, and refrigerate in the/a jar at least ½ hour and up to indefinitely.

About Catherine

Catherine loves to write about food and feeding people. In addition to her recipe and parenting blog Ben & Birdy (which has about 15,000 weekly readers), she edits the ChopChop series of mission-driven cooking magazines. This kids’ cooking magazine won the James Beard Publication of the Year award in 2013 – the first non-profit ever to win it – and a Parents’ Choice Gold Award. Last year they started the WIC version of the magazine for families enrolled in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), and are currently developing Seasoned, their senior version, commissioned by the AARP. They distribute over a million magazines annually, through paid subscriptions, doctor’s offices, schools, and hospitals. Their mission started with obesity as its explicit focus – and has shifted, over the years, to a more holistic one, with health and happiness at its core. That’s the same vibe Catherine brings to the diaTribe column.

[Photo Credit: Catherine Newman]

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