PALEO | WHOLE30 | DAIRY-FREE | GLUTEN-FREE
I don’t know when I became such a salad eater.
I used to make fun of my mom and sister for being such…. rabbits, eating their greens, while I scarfed down a burger/ribs/other “man food”.
It probably started at Space Camp, in 6th grade, when I had my first taste of two things: ranch dressing and bacon bits.
It might come as a surprise that I had never had ranch dressing before then, but I was an immigrant child, born to immigrants, much like the girl in My Big Fat Greek Wedding:
So no, not a lot of ranch dressing. We ate almost exclusively at home, and I brought my lunch to school most of the time (“What is that? Moose kaka?”).
Space Camp was my first “sleep-away camp” experience (not including summers in rural Poland, where we definitely did not have ranch dressing). I went a little crazy at the Space Camp salad bar, trying some new things: I saw this little red nuggets, resembling Mars rocks (“bacon” bits), and sprinkled them on a bed of shredded iceberg. I copied my friends and drenched the whole thing in ranch.
“We’re being healthy,” we’d say, “we’re eating salad.” Hair toss.
That was the first day. I had the same thing for lunch and dinner for the entire duration of camp — and came home demanding that we stock up on my two new favorite things. My poor parents.
Since then, I’ve discovered real bacon, and how to make a proper salad with yummy, healthy things that make them less rabbit-y.
The salad I’m eating today for lunch is one of those: a protein-packed flavor experience, that just so happens to be healthy.
I like to top my lunch salads with a hefty dose of protein from the night before: leftover steak, grilled chicken or shrimp, etc. Last night, I had a wonderful dinner at da best Korean place in Nashville (Korea House), so I didn’t have any leftover meats. I did, however, have turkey and a couple slices of bacon, so this lovely little salad was born.
This salad plays on the flavors of a classic BLT, with some healthy twists:
- Tessamae’s Zesty Ranch (olive oil-based) dressing (instead of a vegetable oil-based ranch)
- Applegate shaved turkey from the deli counter, to up the lean protein factor
- Crunchy toasted almonds, as a sort of crouton
- Avocado, for some filling, healthy fats
There’s minimal prep involved in making this yummy salad: You just have to cook your bacon, toast your almonds, and pack everything in your lunchbox. Good stuff. Double or triple the recipe to feed yourself for several days!
It’s making me nostalgic, eating this salad. It brings me back to those simple Space Camp days, before I knew too much about the world to eat shelf-stable “bacon”. Hmmmm.
- Small skillet
- Cutting board
- Chef’s knife
- Slotted spoon
- 2 cups organic spring mix (or half spinach/half spring mix)
- 1/4 cup cherry tomatoes
- 1/4 cup deli turkey, shaved (I like Applegate Naturals from Whole Foods)
- 2 slices nitrite/nitrate-free bacon (Applegate’s Sunday Bacon is great)
- a couple slices of shaved red onion
- 1/4 of an avocado
- 3 tbsp. raw almonds
- Tessamae’s Zesty Ranch dressing (or other healthy dressing of your choice)
- Slice your red onion and avocado on a small cutting board. Set aside.
- Start your almonds: In a small skillet, heat a tiny bit of olive oil over medium heat. Add the almonds, and allow them to toast. When they’re golden brown and fragrant, remove the skillet from the heat, sprinkle some salt on them and roll them around in the salt. Dump them onto the cutting board. Once they’re cool, chop them up roughly with a large chef’s knife. Be careful!
- Set the chopped almonds aside and wipe your skillet with a wet paper towel (to clean out the excess salt, Lord knows the bacon does not need it). Prepare a plate with a (dry) paper towel (this is where you will place your bacon after it cooks).
- On that same cutting board, slice your bacon into tiny chunks. Heat the skillet over medium heat again, and place the chopped bacon in the skillet. Cook until the bits are nice and crispy (but don’t burn them!).
- Remove the bacon bits with a slotted spoon and place them on the paper towel. Remove the excess grease.
- Throw it all together and eat it, or pack it for lunch — just be sure to keep the greens separate from the rest of the ingredients so they don’t get soggy! I usually pack one large Pyrex with my greens, and another smaller one with all my toppings. When it’s time to eat, I dump everything in the large Pyrex with a little dressing and shake it all up. Enjoy!