A Sunday Salad | FoodLovesWriting

In the time since we last spoke, I did not make black bean soup; Tim and I took a look at our remaining refrigerator loot on Friday and, supplemented by his work lunch and a homemade weekend dinner from friends, spent the next three days eating sumptuously from its contents instead. Sunday, we did not go grocery shopping with the masses; we decided we hate grocery shopping with the masses (so instead we went to Indian food and took advantage of a free museum deal and pushed our weekly shopping routine to Monday afternoons).

But here’s something we did do: Sunday night, lazy and happy and on a mission to clean out our refrigerator shelves before the next day’s shop, we made this large, filling, easy, simple salad—we’re calling it a Sunday salad, because it’s the kind of salad you make at the end of a long week of good eating, merging together all the remnants of the seven days past.

Sunday Salad Before and After | FoodlovesWriting.com

I saw a quote from Alice Waters last week—Alice Waters being, by the way, that remarkable chef and restauranteur famous for Chez Panisse in California and author beloved for, among other works, the legendary The Art of Simple Food, which I am up next for at the library (!)—and I’ve thought about it many times since:

“When you have the best and tastiest ingredients, you can cook very simply and the food will be extraordinary because it tastes like what it is.”

alice waters quote - sized for blog

What Waters is saying isn’t hard to understand: Food tastes like what it’s made of (or, at least, it should). Start with good ingredients, and you’re on your way to good food. It reminds me of Julia Child’s famous line about how chicken ought to taste “chickeny.”

It also reminds me of this salad, cobbled together in the dimming Sunday daylight, when our little Nashville street of 1940s houses was quiet and still.

Sunday Night | Foodloveswriting.com

I’m always hesitant to post recipes like this one, because, between us, they’re not much in the way of recipes at all. While I tracked the amounts and progression of ingredients I was adding and while I’ve recorded that for you here below, the honest truth is that I could just as well have said: Pull firm salad greens, the kind that still have a crunch when you bend them, together with other odds and ends of vegetables in your fridge (in this case, pea shoots, basil, carrots) and maybe an avocado, maybe some seeds, and make a little bit of a sweet dressing to pour on top.

This is how we always make our salads, and so I tend to think little of them—the way I imagine a farmer’s daughter might, when she’s eating fresh-picked carrots for dinner many nights a week.

Sunday Salad | FoodLovesWriting.com

But the thing is, Tim and I were saying Sunday night, there’s nothing quite like a humble salad to satisfy you, to leave you feeling so good when you’re finished, so invigorated and alive. And when you’re sharing that simple salad with your spouse or with your roommates or with some friends—because, for the record, I truly wish more people would have dinner parties composed of simple giant salads, bread and wine; I mean, why not? Why do we think a dinner party has to be multi-courses and all fancified?—you look down at your plate, covered with the earth’s riches, a feast of nutrients and textures and tastes, and have to fight to feel anything less than thankful. Or at least, I did, Sunday night, eating this salad that seemed as good as any restaurant’s, a testament to the good gifts we’ve been given and are being given, each day.

A Sunday Salad
Serves 2-3 as dinner; 4-6 as a side

You’ll see in the ingredients below that we ribboned the carrots, which essentially means I peeled the carrots of their outer skin (which we discarded) and then kept going at them with the peeler, letting the strips fall into the salad. The inner nubbins, I chopped into little matchsticks.

1/2 cup einkorn berries
A bowlful of red leaf lettuce (about 6 ounces), chopped roughly
Leaves from a couple sprigs of fresh basil, chopped
Handful of pea shoots (or sprouts would work), chopped
3 carrots, ribboned
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1 avocado, pitted, peeled and sliced
+ 3 tablespoons olive oil
+ 2 tablespoons honey
+ The juice of one lemon
Salt and pepper, to taste

Begin by cooking the einkorn berries (two-to-one ratio of water-to-berries, brought to a boil and simmered for about 30 minutes)—this may be done ahead of time to speed salad assembly for dinner While they cook, begin assembling salad:

Combine lettuce, basil, pea shoots, carrots, sunflower seeds and avocado in a large bowl; toss well.

In a separate bowl, whisk together olive oil, honey and lemon juice to make a dressing.

When einkorn berries are cooked, add to salad bowl and add dressing on top of that. Toss well. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Shanna Mallon

Shanna Mallon started Food Loves Writing back in 2008, as a way to remember her grandma and write about her life through food. Since then it's become a place leading her to a lifestyle of eating whole foods, a new home in Nashville and the love of her life, Tim. Follow Shanna on Twitter @foodloves, keep up with Food Loves Writing on Facebook and stay inspired with the monthly newsletter.

This Post Has 23 Comments

  1. Megan

    I think these types of recipes are often the best – no fuss, delicious, and simple enough to make again and again. Let us know what you think of Alice Waters’ book, I haven’t read it but it’s on my list :)

    1. Shanna Mallon

      Thanks, Megan, and will do!

  2. Lindsey @ Pas de Deux

    It’s funny, I’ve noticed that I rarely post salad recipes on my blog, despite the fact that I eat them on a daily basis. They are always “a little of this, a little of that,” rather than a “recipe.” But you have reminded me that it is fun to see what others toss together, and that these “recipes” can inspire others to try new things (einkorn berries!). I just bought Thomas MacNamee’s biography of Alice Waters, and can’t wait to dig in! Let us know what you think of her book – I have her cookbook, “In the Green Kitchen,” and love its simplicity.

    1. Shanna Mallon

      I know just what you mean, Lindsey! These simple meals are often the best. Thanks for the vote of confidence about Alice Waters, too — can’t wait to look around through her book!

  3. Julie

    I kind of love your alternate “recipe”, the:

    “Pull firm salad greens, the kind that still have a crunch when you bend them, together with other odds and ends of vegetables in your fridge (in this case, pea shoots, basil, carrots) and maybe an avocado, maybe some seeds, and make a little bit of a sweet dressing to pour on top.”

    Beautiful writing, and just as clear and simple and easy-to-follow as the actual recipe!

    1. Shanna Mallon

      You’re sweet. Thank you, Julie!

  4. Joanna

    First of all, I loved that you used the word nubbins.
    Second, I adore the large salad, bread, and wine dinner party! Let’s do it!

    1. Shanna Mallon

      Haha! : ) And oh, I wish we could have a dinner party together. When will you come visit again!?

  5. Little Kitchie

    The Art of Simple Food is one of my all-time favorites. I have learned so much from it, and I love her philosophy and approach to food. Glad you’ll have it in hand from the library soon!

    Sometimes the best recipes are “non-recipes.” I’ll often throw some random things in our fridge together, mostly just to clear some space, and then it turns out delicious… only problem being, I can’t quite ever repeat it the same way! :)

    1. Shanna Mallon

      Marie, Oh my goodness, YES. That is my biggest problem, too. When I’m not measuring or tracking, deliciousness! When I try to redo it again, failure. Ha!

  6. sarah kate branine

    You already know this, but I appreciate simple meals like this one because I am in a stage of life that requires the simplest of the simple : ) And how much do I love your writing/watercolor? A lot a lot!

    1. Shanna Mallon

      I’m so glad you got into watercolors last year because it inspired me to try them, and I’m having so much fun! : )

  7. Paula @ Vintage Kitchen

    My meal planning last week lasted two whole days…jaja, a lot for me. But what I did do is organize the fridge, it´s almost a collateral bonus of it. This week I´ll write the meals down, maybe I will last 4 whole days. One very interesting thing about planning is the awareness attached to it, about the food you have, eat and also what you buy on a whim.

    1. Shanna Mallon

      I couldn’t agree more, Paula; I think awareness is the key here. Thanks for the update on your efforts — keep them coming! : )

  8. Katie (A Fork in Hand)

    I too hesitate to post recipes like this, but I always love seeing them on the blogs that I read. I find it so interesting to see how other people “cook” when they’re being spontaneous and not really planning their meal. These types of recipes really inspire my own creativity in the kitchen, and I often use them to spin off something of my own. Kind of a virtual collaboration!

    1. Shanna Mallon

      Thanks for being a kindred spirit and understanding, Katie. So glad to have you reading here. : )

  9. Kasey

    I sometimes hesitate to post recipes that feel like ‘oh this old thing?’ but people sure do love them. Thing is, we can all use a good Sunday Salad, and I’m always curious to know what other people’s Sunday Salads are. xo

    1. Shanna Mallon

      “we can all use a good Sunday Salad” — YES. I love that line.

  10. Kim

    Two things:

    1) You have now inspired me to have a “rustic” dinner party. Big salad, crusty bread, cheese, wine.

    2) When the heck are you guys coming back out to California? Once it reopens, we would definitely join you at Chez Panisse – it’s practically in our backyard, after all! Maybe by the time it reopens, and the time you plan another CA vacation, we’ll even have a guest room ready :)

    1. Shanna Mallon

      1) YES

      2) Oh my gosh I would love this so much!

      1. Kim

        Well you just let me know when you’re planning it, and we’ll do this :)

  11. Medha

    This is such an inspiring post Shanna – You write so beautifully! ” Food tastes like what it’s made of ” – so true! Simple and fresh meals are the best ones. Anup and I are salad junkies – we love to mix -match and stretched our boundaries over salad because “There are no mistakes in salads, darling, not like life! !”

    1. Shanna Mallon

      Oh, Medha, thank you for these sweet words. I love new comments on old posts because they pull me back into old moments and meals that I love remembering. Thank you for pulling me to this salad today and thank you for being someone who continually, over and over again, inspires me to look with joy on fresh food to eat.

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