Crunchy romaine, diced tomatoes, a sprinkle of salt, a dash of pepper and a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic. This was the first salad I was ever introduced to, rich in flavor yet satisfying in texture and taste. To this day, my mom still throws this together when all of our family is gathered around the table as a side to our Pasta Shute on a cozy winter night or a crisp bite to accompany hamburgers and hot dogs during the scorching days of summer. Although it may be simple, it has always been a hint of healthy green to compliment any of our meals.
As I have grown older and have a 9-5 job, I have made this salad countless times, always preferring to pack my own lunch instead of going out during the work week. The ingredients are staple items that make their way onto our grocery list every Sunday and they are fresh yet easy to incorporate into other dishes. But on the rare instances I splurge for a salad at Sweetgreen, I notice that I order something I can easily recreate at home. Spring mix or shredded kale? Wild rice or warm quinoa? Avocado or broccoli? Peppers or tomatoes? Carrots or cucumbers? I wasn’t sure why all of these choices seemed intimidating in my kitchen but a winning combination when someone else tossed them together.
It wasn’t until I fell in love with the Hot and Cold Salad at Parish Cafe on Boylston Street that I finally decided to venture into leaving behind the basics and make a version of their salad on my own. Combining arugula and shaved carrots over sticky jasmine rice with a sesame-soy vinaigrette, their flavors tickled my Thai-loving taste buds. I realized that this was what I needed to bring for lunch every day. After some trial and error with different dressings and variations of ingredients, I have finally perfected what I now refer to as “my favorite salad.” It is packed with veggies, hearty with white rice and sweet with Soyaki sauce. It is something that I look forward to eating as both a lunch or dinner, making it as big or as little as my appetite allows, and gives me another reason to make a weekly trip to Trader Joe’s.
Although there are days when I still gravitate to my tried and true original, garnering tastes and memories from my mother’s kitchen to give me some homemade comfort, my new favorite salad has given me a renewed excitement for my mid-day meal.
Here’s my Tessipe for you and I to enjoy together!
3 big handfuls of arugula lettuce
1/2 cup of diced or shredded carrots
1 ripe avocado
1/2 cup of frozen broccoli florets
1/2 cup of Trader Joe’s Roasted and Salted Peanuts
1/2 bag of 1 full bag of Trader Joe’s Frozen Organic Jasmine Rice
- On a cookie tray lined with parchment paper, thaw the frozen broccoli florets. Once they reach room temperature, roast them in the oven at 425 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until they are crispy. Let cool. Store in a Tupperware container in the refrigerator until ready to use.
- Dice or shred the carrots (I prefer diced carrots to add a little crunch).
- When you are ready to assemble your salad, heat up one bag of the Trader Joe’s Frozen Organic Jasmine Rice in the microwave per the directions.
- After the rice is finished, heat up the roasted broccoli in the microwave until they are warm.
- Slice the avocado in half and cut it into small pieces.
- In a big bowl, mix together 1/2 of the full bag of jasmine rice, arugula, carrots, roasted broccoli and avocado.
- Top the salad with the roasted and salted peanuts and a drizzle of the Soyaki (however much you would like!).
- Mix together thoroughly.
***This Tessipe can be tailored to how much you would like. You can adjust the quantities to fit your personal appetite. For the purpose of this Tessipe, I have listed how much I use of each ingredient to make one salad***