I LOVE the protein bowl craze. Why wouldn’t I? I’ve always been a big fan of protein bowls, I just have had a different name for them. I call them chef salads and have been making my own versions since I was a kid. My salads started with base of lettuce mixed with various combinations of diced meats, cheese, vegetables, beans and hard-boiled eggs all mixed together with a vinaigrette.
As a kid, I loved them because it was a dinner I could customize to my taste—cubed ham, swiss cheese and cucumber was my favorite combination. As an adult, chef salads are a quick way to make use of leftovers and ingredients I always have on hand. If I have lettuce and some leftover steak, half a chicken, even just a can of tuna, I’ve got a start. The key is to build your salad with care. Start with a big, preferably shallow bowl. Add enough lettuce, torn or cut into small pieces, to cover the bottom of the bowl. Next, keep one basic rule in mind: Choose ingredients and themes that go together. Shrimp and cheddar are not a good combination, but shrimp and feta work. Combining shrimp, feta and chickpeas is going in the right direction. Add green beans and maybe some sliced, sweet bell pepper, drizzle on a lemon vinaigrette, and you’ve got a pretty good dinner.
Got chicken? Chicken, avocado and corn, maybe with some orzo and a herb-filled vinaigrette, perfect.
Steak, blue cheese, walnuts, white beans and blanched asparagus with a balsamic dressing make another great dinner, especially as the evenings get warmer.
And for my husband’s favorite, the classic chef salad is always a winner: a mix of diced ham, roast beef and turkey, swiss and cheddar cheeses, avocado, and diced hard-boiled eggs. Toss it all with a mustard-based vinaigrette, and he is very happy. It’s old-fashioned but still still tastes delicious. Sometimes he doesn’t even notice if I sneak in a few beans or chickpeas… .
—Stephanie Witt Sedgwick
LittleBird “Stephanie Cooks” gives us permission to do what’s necessary in the crazed family kitchen.