Pickled Chopped Salad with Creamy Parmesan Dressing

The other day, I was really in the mood for a salad – not, like, a wimpy little salad with a few tomatoes and a slice of cucumber, but a SALAD. One that would taste delicious, and fill me up, and be a MEAL. So, as I do, I sat there for a few minutes and brainstormed… and I remembered a chopped salad that I used to get at an Italian place near our house, that had the most DELICIOUS creamy parmesan dressing. That became my jumping off point, so I hauled myself into the kitchen and started throwing things in a bowl – a little bit of this, a dash of that, maybe some more of this – until it tasted exactly the way it tasted in my imagination (that’s normal, right?). Once the dressing was perfect, I started thinking about what I wanted in the salad itself, and I decided on hard-boiled egg (for some protein, and also because I love a hard-boiled egg with any kind of creamy dressing), bacon (for salt and smoke, and because it’s BACON), cherry tomatoes (for freshness and sweetness), and hot pickled vegetables (for spice, and the bite of vinegar). It might sound like a crazy combination, but you’re just gonna have to trust me on this one.

(side note: you’re going to want to put this dressing on everything you eat, so if you want to double this recipe, I’m not judging)

Creamy Parmesan Dressing
Makes about 1 cup

1/4 c light mayo
1/4 c 2% fat greek yogurt
1-2 cloves garlic, grated
1/3 c grated parmesan
up to 1/4 c milk
juice of one lemon (about 2 T)
1/4 t kosher salt
1/4 t black pepper
couple dashes worcestershire

Add all ingredients to a bowl (minus the milk), and whisk together. Adjust the consistency by adding the milk one tablespoon at a time – as much or as little as you need to get a consistency that you enjoy.

Give the dressing a taste, and adjust the flavors as necessary – you can add more parmesan if that flavor isn’t really coming through, or a little more lemon juice if you need a bit more tang. I really like my dressings to be garlicky, so I used 2 HUGE garlic cloves in this one – you can bump that back if you’re not into a strong garlic taste.

You can go ahead and use the dressing immediately, or cover it and store it in the fridge until you’re ready for it. It should last up to 3 days in the fridge.

Pickled Chopped Salad with Creamy Parmesan Dressing
serves 2

2 hearts of romaine, chopped
2 hardboiled eggs, chopped
4 slices of bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
1/2 pint of cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 c of pickled hot vegetables, chopped*
Creamy Parmesan Dressing (recipe above)

*I know some of you are thinking, “What in the hell are pickled hot vegetables??” Well, for starters, they are delicious. You can find them with the other pickles in your grocery store – often, a lot of the varieties will be labeled as “Giardiniera”, and those mixes often contain carrots, cauliflower, and moderately hot peppers. There are a million variations out there; my favorite contains green tomatoes, pickles, hot peppers, carrots, and cauliflower (please note: cauliflower doesn’t taste like cauliflower once it’s pickled it just tastes like delicious; so don’t be scared of the cauliflower). If you’re not feeling the pickled vegetables, just pick up SOMETHING pickled – okra, spicy pickles, beets (I don’t want to hear about it, but do it if you must). This salad really needs the vinegar in the pickles to cut through the richness of the dressing; it wouldn’t be nearly as delicious without it.

I probably don’t have to tell you how to assemble a salad, but just in case:

1.) Place romaine into bowls.

2.) Top romaine with eggs, bacon, tomatoes, and pickled vegetables.

3.) Top everything with Creamy Parmesan Dressing.

4.) Eat. (I caught my husband licking the bowl when he was done. If you feel moved to do the same, know that I don’t blame you – I wouldn’t want to waste a DROP of that dressing!)

This salad was so good that my husband and I both raved about it for days. I have eaten it 3 times in 4 days, and I am not ashamed of that fact. I will likely eat it a few more times in the coming week, once I take the 5 minutes to make more dressing. I’m actually beginning to get a little sad that I won’t have access to the materials for this salad and lunch today!

Anyways, I think the balance in this combination of flavors is key – if you leave out any one of the ingredients, something would be a little bit off. I fully acknowledge that the ingredient list looks and sounds a little bizarre – but I promise you won’t be sorry if you give it a try!

Craving SALAD is a new feeling that I’m still adjusting to,
Tina

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