Saturday, 18 June 2011

What to eat when there's nothing in the fridge: Mishmash Salad

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The bf and I have been crazy busy lately.  He's spending all hours at school and in the hospital (for school), and I'm trying to edit the first draft of my manuscript, wrap up my MA, and deal with book proposals and agent queries, all while still working part-time.  There are a lot of people out there who pile more than that on their plates, and plow along just fine.  But we're not those people.

We're the type of people who get home in the evening and go straight for our computers, each of us hoping that the other will sort out dinner while we zone out in front of youtube or food blogs (respectively).  And that's where this salad comes in.

We only grocery shop every two weeks or so, although we get our weekly veg box every Wednesday, which thankfully keeps us somewhat healthy.  But things like meat and soup and ready-meals have a tendency to be gone within the first five days after our shop, which means that for the next nine days we have no idea what to eat for dinner.  Sure, we have stuff in the freezer, but how often do we remember to pull it out in the morning?  (Answer: not often.)  So there are plenty of evenings when we're at a loss, standing in the face of a fridge that's loaded with juices and broad beans and carrots, but no meat, or anything else that can stand as the centerpiece to a 'real' meal.

But one thing we almost always have, thanks to our weekly delivery, is eggs.  Fresh, organic eggs.  And recently we've been using them as the protein base for our dinners.  I'll make a fritata or a scramble, or the bf will sometimes make homemade pasta (let's not even go into the unexpected (by him) hours and effort that requires, or the mess it makes).  And lately, since it's been getting warmer (most days) in London, we've been big into hard-boiling them and putting them in a salad.

It started with a salad I ordered at Pain Quotidien: confit duck, eggs, ham, cold potato slices, and greens, all tossed with a lovely vinaigrette.  It was heaven, especially after a long, arduous day of shopping in the West End.  And it was no wimp, this salad – I could only eat about half of it, and I felt way more satisfied than I would have felt after a stodgy sandwich of a cup of soup.

Of course, we don't just keep confit duck lying around the house.  But we do have eggs, and sometimes we even have a lone slice of deli ham lingering in the fridge.  And we certainly have potatoes, if only we can remember to cook them before they sprout.  So last weekend, when neither of us could really be bothered to cook, and we didn't feel like ordering in (we try not to do that too much, for our health and also for our pocketbooks), I looked up a quick recipe for salad dressing and away we went!  Thirty minutes later, we had a scrummy egg and ham salad with organic greens and a tangy mustard vinaigrette:

Normally I wouldn't make my own dressing, because we cart back bottles of my absolute favorite Miso Caesar whenever we visit the States.  But alas (ALAS) the two bottles we brought back last time were off (ALAS!).  So once I stopped crying over that, I put together my own.  And it was delish (although nothing touches the Miso Caesar, really).

Mustard Vinaigrette
     Very slightly adapted from Recipes for Health 

In a small bowl or measuring cup, combine: 
     1 rounded tablespoon Dijon mustard
     1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
     1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
     Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Whisk in:
     1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Peel and lightly crush a small garlic clove, and immerse in the dressing to marinate for at least 30 minutes. Remove from the dressing before serving or storing (up to 3 days in the fridge). 

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