Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Sweet and Tangy Curry Lettuce Salad

Do you find yourself bored with Just Plain Garden Variety Lettuce Salad?  You know, the lettuce, cucumbers, and tomatoes kind.  Try my latest invention for a little taste of the exotic.

I offered to bring a salad to a gathering a few weeks ago.  Although my taste buds really like the fluffy sweet concoctions every "good Minnesota woman" knows is called salad, I try to avoid that sort.  Truthfully, most of these are more a dessert than a salad.  No matter what my mouth thinks, my brain knows that when I eat, I need only a certain number of carbs, and that what I really need more of is veggies and fiber. 

But especially when bringing food for a gathering, I want it to be interesting rather than boring.  I really love the salad that's is popular these days with Romaine and strawberries.  But I don't generally have fresh strawberries on hand and am not usually inclined to make a special trip those 25 miles into town and back for strawberries.

So I came up with a lettuce salad combination that turned out very tasty.  And better yet, I usually have all the ingredients for it on hand.  Simple, plain ingredients that taste fancy when combined.  That's the kind of salad I like.

I've make this twice.  And neither time did I make it as I intended.  But both ways turned out nice.  The first time I used a vinegar and oil base for the curry dressing, because strangely enough when I went to my fridge for one of my staple items, the plain yogurt, there was none to be found.  My plan had been to make a slightly sweetened dressing with plain yogurt and curry powder.  But when I searched the fridge for the plain yogurt that I almost always have on hand, there was none to be found.

The second time I made this salad, I was sure I had a full quart of yogurt in the fridge.  I knew I had it,  because I had just seen it that morning and I had noticed the foil seal on the top was unbroken.  But in one of those strange twists of fate, I discovered that I must have grabbed the vanilla yogurt from the grocery store cooler rather than plain.

Good thing I'm not easily deterred.  I simply used the vanilla yogurt instead of plain.  I was planning to sweeten it anyway, and vanilla seemed like it would go well with the curry.  And it did.

So, here's the recipe for the salad.  I'll include all three dressing ideas at the end, but they really are just guesses, since I rarely measure anything.

Oh, and for the greens, use whatever you want.  I like a variety for visual appeal and a richer nutrient content.  I usually use a mix of green and red leaf lettuces, with a little Romain or Iceberg thrown in for crispness.  Spinach is always a nice addition, but I don't usually have it (unless Marlene has sent me home with a big bag).  I suppose you could also use beet greens, mustard greens, or even young Dandelions or Pigweed if you are adventurous.

I like to use a tangy apple such as Granny Smith, but Yellow Delicious is a more traditional choice to combine with curry.   If you don't peel your apples, use three different apples with a variety of peel colors, to add visual interest.

My recipe makes a big mixing bowl full, about maybe a gallon or a little bit more. 

Sweet and Tangy Curry Lettuce Salad

Tear up a bowl full of greens of your choice.
Dice 3 apples.  Peel if you wish.
One medium onion, quartered and sliced thinly.
Two stalks of celery, sliced thinly.
A generous cup of date pieces.  (If you buy precut dates, they will probably be coated with something, usually a sugar coating. You may end up too sweet if you use the pre-sweetened vanilla yogurt dressing.  Just experiment to see what works well.)

Combine the above and toss together.

Add one of the following curry dressings, then toss again gently to work the dressing through.

Creamy Yogurt Curry Dressing
Mix a cup or so of plain yogurt, a tablespoon or so sugar, and curry to taste, maybe, oh, 1/2 tablespoon.  Sample a bit and add additional sugar or spice according to your preference.

Lazy Vanilla Yogurt Dressing
Mix a cup or so of vanilla yogurt with curry to taste. 

Vinegar and Oil Curry Dressing
Mix 3 parts olive oil with 2 parts apple cider vinegar.  Add curry and sugar to taste.

Ok, so yes, this is all very scientific.  Sorry.  That's how things go these days. 


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