Okay, so today is a set of instructions, not so much a recipe. How to make a salad. A real salad - not a bag-o-salad dumped into a bowl with some croutons.
1) Go to Target or Goodwill and spend $3 on a salad spinner. There is a super-cheap one at Target on the dollar shelf - you won't regret it.
2.) Consider what type of salad you want to make. Decide on a dressing first, because a dressing sets the tone of your salad. I alternate between balsamic vinaigrette and Italian. When buying a dressing, consider the fat content. Try to pick a dressing that has 2-6 grams of fat - you need a little bit of fat to reap all of the benefits of salad. Stay away from creamy dressings unless that is the only way you will eat your salad.
3.) Buy some lettuce. Try not to go for iceberg lettuce - go for either a mixed greens that you can buy by-the-pound, or go for two types of lettuce. Since Mr. Barefoot hates salad, I buy one type of lettuce, because it takes me at least two salads to eat it, and it goes bad in a week. I like either romaine or red leaf lettuce - whatever you do, go for a dark lettuce. Also, maybe toss in some spinach or arugula.
4.) Consider what else you would like - tomatoes? red onion? red pepper? I like cucumbers in my salad, if I'm having an Italian dressing salad; sometimes tomatoes, and occasionally red pepper. Some people like thawed/cooked corn in their salads. Beans? Cal Tor has an amazing black bean salad with black beans, tomatoes, corn, and lettuce, but I need to be having a salad with a Mexican type dressing to go for black beans and corn in my salad. If you are doing a ranch salad, go for carrots and Broccoli - yum!
5.) Now that you are done with produce, consider toppings. I require cheese on my salad - parmesean, feta, or goat cheese. Goat and feta are a little lower in fat. Sometimes I like some mozzerella - the little balls - and I cut them up and they are great in a leafy green salad with balsamic dressing. With goat cheese or feta, I like to do the dried cranberries. With parmesean and Ceasar, Italian or balsamic dressing, I like to do croutons. Some people like nuts in their salad, but I'm not one of them.
6.) Protien - I usually don't add any, some people like chicken strips. I keep meaning to try some of the vegetarian salad finishers. Or I could just add some white beans or tofu that has been marinating in italian dressing.
7.) Now that you are done shopping, its time for assembly. Go home and break out your 12" serrated bread knife. If you don't own one, why not? Saw through the lettuce until it is in front of you in 1-1.5 inch strips. Put the salad leaves in the strainer from your salad spinner. Now wash the salad leaves. If you are really afraid of dirt, float the leaves in a bowl of water for 10 minutes, then fish the leaves off the top - the dirt will have sunk to the bottom.
8.) Spin the salad. Let it sit and drain some more while you chop the other vegetables and produce for your salad. Be sure to wash those too.
9.) Dump the leaves into a big mixing bowl. If you have salad scissors, use them now. Add some dressing - probably about half a serving. Using a rubber spatula (a spoonula is even better), toss the leaves with the dressing until each leaf is evenly coated. Add your other produce and toppings and mix them in.
10.) Serve salads into salad bowls. (This is the part where I confess that I skip this set, and sit on the couch, midafternoon, with a giant mixing bowl in my hands and eat straight out of it.) I find that to weigh the salad down enough to fit enough salad in the small salad bowls, I have to coat the leaves in dressing, and I don't like an excess of dressing. So the high walls of the mixing bowl help keep the salad from ending up everywhere.