Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Spoon Salad: It's Crunch Time

Spoon Salad: this time with cucumber, celery, carrots, scallions, zucchini, red bell pepper, breakfast radishes and snap peas

Spoon Salad?
Spoon salad is my name for a combination of raw vegetables cut up so that you can eat it with a spoon, with a good 'refrigerator life' that I make weekly and mix with, at the time I prepare it, a variety of other vegetables (those that don't store well), herbs, grains, nuts, beans, dairy, meat, fish and/or tofu. The creativity is in how it's dressed and the 'mix-ins'. The base vegetables change somewhat by season. Every once in a while, I'll use it as a base for a speedy saute or stir fry. I just don't get tired of it.

This salad is capital-C CRUNCHY! I love the freshness and the taste. It's filling and wicked good for you. It is also great for developing and improving knife skills. I have tried cutting some vegetables in the food processor but overall, it takes less time to do it by hand and in some cases, using a food processor creates too much liquid. I recommend a small dice (1/4") for carrots or other hard vegetables and 1/3 to 1/2 inch for other less hard vegetables.

If there's a vegetable you want to use and you don't know if will keep for a few days, prepare some and add it to a separate container. Check on it each day. If it gets a little liquid-y in the container, it's probably not a good candidate. If you are considering becoming a Spoon Salad convert, think about how and when you'll use it. Once you've diced up the vegetables, you've pretty much made a commitment and you may want to start by making just a few cups at a time.
There really are no rules, but these:
  • The vegetables are cut so that you can eat the salad with a spoon
  • Don't use any 'watery' vegetables - this is a salad that should last in the refrigerator, if stored properly, for up to five days. I've gone as long as seven days with no discernible degradation of appearance or flavor. Anything like tomatoes, seedy cucumbers or other vegetables that are likely to break down quickly should not be included in the 'base' but may be added at the time you assemble it for a meal. One exception is English or Persian cucumbers - they tend to hold up well.
  • Make sure the vegetables are well washed when you start and as dry as possible before you assemble and store the salad - and by that I mean no or very, very little residual water left over from washing when you start to prep and dice the ingredients.
  • It should be very, very colorful
  • Store it in airtight containers - I store mine in several 4-cup plastic containers
You may or may not want to add scallions to your 'base', but I find that onions or shallots (if you wish to use those) should be added as 'mix-ins' at the time you're assembling your meal or dish. It travels well.

Ingredients I Use Include:

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