It's the first Sunday of January, which means if you're anything like me you (1) want to eat healthier after the excesses of the past couple of months, (2) DO NOT want to go to the grocery store until you absolutely have to (this has nothing to do with it being the first Sunday of January - I just don't want to go to the grocery store...), and (3) have some completely random leftovers hanging around in the fridge. Enter my easy "Must-Go" Salad (as in, "just use up whatever must go"). Basically, you open the fridge to take stock of what is left hanging around in your produce drawer, open the pantry to see what kinds of legumes and grains you've had stashed away, toss it all together with a simple vinaigrette and your favorite A Bite of Good spice blend, and (voila!) you've got yourself a healthy and satisfying lunch or light dinner.
Here's how the process went for me today.... In my veggie drawer I found some Italian parsley, some Tuscan kale, some carrots, a jar of preserved lemons, half of a shallot, some garlic, and some cooked brown/wild rice. I grabbed all of that and then headed to the pantry, where I found a can of chickpeas, some avocado oil, some dates, some honey, and some almonds. The fruit basket still had some fresh lemons, so I snagged one of those, and picked my Five-Chile Harrisa Spice Blend from the spice rack. I minced up the shallot, garlic, preserved lemon peel, and parsley. Then I cut the kale into thin ribbons and took a vegetable peeler to a carrot (which is WAY easier than trying to cut carrots into matchsticks). I gave the dates and the almonds a rough chop and drained and rinsed the chickpeas. All of that got tossed together in a big bowl, along with about a tablespoon of Five-Chile Harissa Spice Blend, a generous pinch of salt, a few grinds of black pepper, and a quick vinaigrette made with the avocado oil, juice from the lemon, and a tiny bit of honey.
I love this kind of non-recipe-recipe because it truly is endlessly adaptable to whatever you happen to have on hand. No rice? Try quinoa or farro or barley (or even pasta, although that's not quite as healthy...). No chickpeas? Try whatever kind of beans you've got. Don't have any kale? Try spinach or chard or just skip the greens altogether (although this really is an awesome way to eat more greens....). Don't have any almonds? Try pistachios or walnuts or sunflower seeds. No dates? Go for raisins or cranberries. You get the idea. The key is not to be afraid. Worst case scenario, you've made a salad that you don't totally love, but at least it's healthy and you've avoided just throwing food away. Best case scenario, you found your new favorite weekday lunch!