We’ve been lucky enough to have a few solid days of blue sky sunshine here in Seattle, which us Seattlelites don’t take for granted. Chet and I walked our dog Zoey through our favorite park yesterday alongside hundreds of other happy-to-see-the-sunshine folks in tank tops (it was 56 degrees, so, duh!), shorts, sunglasses and yes, I walked past a woman who reeked (in a wonderful, summery way), like Banana Boat sunscreen.
This baby glimpse of summer in the dreary month of January called for one of my favorite summertime dinners: salad. Healthy, crisp, fresh and delicious!
If you’re gonna make a salad as your main meal, you’ve got to make it a big one. I’ve always loved “chopped” salads because they are filled to the brim with various toppings that keep you full for longer. To make a true chopped salad, you have to cut your lettuce into thin strips, then do another rough chop to cut the strips in half. By the end it almost looks like you’ve shredded your lettuce instead of chopped it. This way when you go to eat it you’re not stabbing at leaves, but rather scooping up mounding piles of lettuce and avocado and corn and black beans and dressing, oh my!
If you’re looking to beef this salad up a little more, you can always add grilled chicken, shrimp, tomatoes, roasted bell peppers or cheese. In our house we tend to eat an unholy amount of cheese so I decided to save our digestive systems for at least one meal. Typically this salad is made with grilled chicken, or even BBQ chicken to add even more flavor. Since I think every meal needs some kind of carb, the light dusting of crushed tortilla chips adds a nice salty crunch to go with the sweetness of the BBQ sauce. I’d like to think the judges on Chopped would be speechless.
Corn! Another summer favorite. There’s nothing better than buttery, salty, fresh corn on the cob. I can’t wait for that, but in the meantime, since it’s January, you’re probably going to need to go with a canned or frozen version. Sigh.
When cooking your corn you want to make sure to get it nice and roasted. This means leaving it in your pan (make sure you have a good non-stick one!) without stirring it while it gets nice and brown. Resist your urge to stir! The end product should be golden brown and toasty corn. Add it to the salad once it’s cooled a little, but it doesn’t need to be cold. The warmth adds a nice balance to the salad. Take that Alex Guarnaschelli.
Since we’re talking about summer, here’s what I can’t wait for:
- Late night walks (because it’s still light out!)
- Tennis in the park
- White wine and sangria
- Blockbuster hits (usually a good Marvel movie)
- Backyard BBQs
- Outdoor movies
- Vacations to somewhere hot with warm water
- Mini golf
- Backpacking, camping and hiking all the time
- Feeling the sun on your skin
- Windows rolled down
- Seattle summer views (this city is its best in the summer)
- Farmer’s Markets
- …to name a few!
In the meantime I’ll enjoy my rainy walks, comfort foods, game nights, boots, vests, in home workouts and bundles of blankets. Because those things aren’t bad either!
What to Bring to the Store
You don’t need to bring many reusables with you to store to reduce your waste for this recipe. Really all you should need is 1 reusable produce bag for your lettuce. All other ingredients you might already have lying around your house or you’ll need to find canned or bottled. Look for canned items first before you get anything frozen because cans are widely accepted as recycling while the plastic packaging around most frozen foods are trash. Be sure to bring your reusable grocery bags!
Waste Meter – 4!
Overall, you shouldn’t need to throw anything away in the making of this recipe unless you had to go with some different packaging options (below). Here’s what to do with your packaging:
Recycle: Corn and black bean cans, ranch and BBQ bottles (once emptied), and your chip bag (if paper).
Compost: Lettuce and avocado scraps.
Possible trash: Plastic frozen food packaging (corn) and your plastic chip bag.
Be sure to check your cabinets before you shop to see what you already have on hand. The chips can be easily substituted out for crackers or another chip flavor you already have…even goldfish!
- 1 head of romaine lettuce
- 1 avocado
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- ¼ tsp salt
- ⅛ tsp paprika
- 1½ cups of corn, frozen or fresh
- 1½ cups black beans
- ½ cup tortilla chips, crushed
- Your favorite ranch dressing
- Your favorite BBQ sauce
- In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, add the olive oil and wait for pan to get hot. Add in the corn (no need to pre-thaw if frozen), salt and paprika. Resist the urge to stir your corn once you hear it sizzling. The less you stir the more charred/roasted the corn will get. Overall cook for about 5-7 minutes or until there is a good roast on them and they are cooked through.
- Meanwhile, thinly chop your lettuce into strips, then chop the strips in half again. This is what gives this salad the "chop." Clean lettuce in a salad spinner or rinse and pat until dry with a towel. Place into a large bowl.
- Once the corn is roasted, reduce the heat to medium and add the black beans. Let cook briefly, 1-2 minutes to absorb some of the roasty corn flavor. Dice the avocado into cubes and crush the tortilla chips with your hands or other tool.
- Add the avocado, corn, black beans and tortilla chips to the lettuce. Lightly drizzle about 3 tbsp each of the ranch dressing and bbq sauce overtop to serve. Put your ranch and bbq sauce on the table for others to add more if needed.
Enjoy your glimpse of summer!