Dear Friends, Cookie and I are struggling get our acts together over here. Cookie is sporting her new, larger “cone of shame”. Actually, I don’t like that term. Let’s pretend it’s an Elizabethan collar. Lady Cookie has been knocking around the house like a blind armadillo all weekend. Bang! Crash! Scrape!
As for me, I’m still wearing my pajamas. I’m competing for an Olympic medal in laundry avoidance and my to-do list is threatening to swallow me whole. The worst part is that I owe many of you emails and responses to your comments. I’m so sorry. I’m trying.
All that said, I’ve been content to put the to-do list aside and spend the morning typing up a new post. It’s what I love to do. I feel so spoiled that I get to do it for a living. Every time I sit down to eat a meal in this cozy new house with my dog by my side, I’m reminded that I have it good. For instance, it’s ten degrees outside and I’m warm. I have a belly full of nutritious salad. And I might not have any more clean socks, but I have unlimited access to clean water. Not everyone is so lucky.
Today, I’m donating this post and some dollars to The Lunchbox Fund, an organization that provides healthy meals to vulnerable South African students. Kids in South Africa are going hungry: 65 percent live in poverty and nearly 20 percent are orphans, with approximately 1.9 million orphaned as a result of HIV and AIDS. As you can probably imagine, lack of food can diminish concentration and erode willpower. What I can’t imagine, however, is who I would be if I went hungry day after day.
This week, I’m joining nearly 100 other food bloggers in a campaign to raise $5,000, which is enough to provide a daily meal to 100 South African school children for a whole year. Those meals encourage kids to stay in school and meet their full potential. I’ve decided to forego a couple of cocktails this week and provide some much-needed lunches to kids instead. If you would like to join me, click here to donate.
Today seemed like a good day to share a pack-for-work lunch option. I always reach for these ingredients at salad bars, so I was surprised when I realized I didn’t have a comparable homemade version on the blog. After glancing over my salad section a couple of times, I immediately googled Greek vinaigrette recipes.
It turns out that Greek vinaigrette is exceptionally simple to make at home. I’m looking forward to drizzling the leftovers on salads, vegetables and pasta over the coming weeks. I try to keep bags of leftover cooked whole grains in my freezer and cans of beans in my pantry for throw-together salads like this one. It makes eating well so much easier.
If you’re packing this salad for work, I have some storage tips. Definitely keep the dressing separate from the greens until you’re ready to serve (otherwise the greens will wilt). Warming the grains before serving really takes this salad to another level, so you might also store those separately if you want to go the extra mile.
If want to want to keep storage super simple, though, this salad is prime for serving from a large mason jar. Just pour some dressing, grains and the remaining ingredients into the jar and top with greens. Leave some room on top for shaking. When you’re ready to eat, flip the jar and give it a few shakes to toss the salad. Eat!
- Mixed greens, preferably with herbs
- 1 cup thinly sliced broccoli florets
- ⅔ cup cooked chickpeas
- ¼ cup chopped red onion
- ¼ cup crumbled feta cheese (optional)
- 10 pitted Kalamata olives, sliced into thin rounds
- Handful chopped sun-dried tomatoes*
- Small handful sunflower seeds or pepitas
- 1 cup cooked farro, wheat/spelt berries, whole wheat pasta, barley or quinoa
- Drizzle olive oil
- ½ lemon, juiced
- ½ cup quality olive oil
- ¼ cup red wine vinegar
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1½ teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- ¾ teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon agave nectar or sugar
- Cook the grains (optional): Prepare according to package directions. I like to make extra to freeze for later. Toss the warm cooked grains with a drizzle of olive oil, the juice of ½ lemon and a sprinkle of sea salt. Set aside.
- Make the dressing: In a liquid measuring cup, whisk together the dressing ingredients until emulsified. Transfer to an air-tight container with a lid to store the leftovers.
- Toast the seeds: In a small pan over medium heat, toast the sunflower seeds/pepitas until they are fragrant and turning golden at the edges, stirring often, about 4 minutes.
- Assemble the salad: Place a generous portion of greens in two bowls. Divide the remaining salad ingredients, grains included, between the two bowls. Just before you are ready to serve, toss the salad with Greek dressing.
Storage suggestions: Store it in the refrigerator in an air-tight container with a lid. It should keep for several weeks.
Make it vegan: Skip the feta.
Make it gluten free: Use rice or quinoa for the cooked grains, or skip them altogether.
*I'm partial to Trader Joe's sun-dried tomatoes because they stay nice and soft. If your sun-dried tomatoes are too tough to eat, soften them by soaking in hot water for 10 minutes, then chop and add to the salad.
Store leftovers separately from the dressing. Toss just before serving.