The salad and the purple dress

So, yes, low-carbohydrate meals that stop a lass tearing her hair out and eating the cupboard door in sheer despair. I did say at some point I was going to talk about recipes.

One of the things H and I eat anyway, voluntarily, and with pleasure (especially in summer), is the Enormous Salad.

This is how we, well, H, mostly (he is the Salad King) make Enormous Salad.


  • Lettuce. A good, flavoursome one like Romaine or Cos or Batavia. Not iceberg. Iceberg tastes of ice and goes crunch, qualities which make it exceedingly boring to eat in large quantities. Rocket or lollo rosso may be added in small quantities, but can be overwhelming in large.
  • Celery, finely sliced.
  • Cucumber, ditto.
  • Cherry tomatoes, or baby plum, or similar small, intensely tomatoey varieties that actually taste of tomato rather than frost-bite and pinkish slurry.
  • Ad libitum, any or all of finely sliced fennel, finely shredded spring onions (scallions, to you lot over the other side of the Atlantic), finely sliced white closed-cup mushrooms, radishes, finely slivered red onion (easy on the quantity unless you all love onion-breath), finely sliced carrots, oh, yes, had you noticed? Not great lovers of the chunk, chez May.
  • If you like, tinned artichokes, thoroughly rinsed and chopped into quarters, black olives (H hates them, so we don’t, but they’d be nice), green olives (H likes these. H is weird), maybe the odd caper (H hates these too, the boring git).
  • Herbs! A little basil, or a tad of fresh flat-leaf parsley, or coriander maybe (cilantro to you). Or, no herbs. We don’t always add herbs.
  • Protein! We often use tinned tuna, drained and broken into flakes. And hard-boiled eggs, which go nicely with the tuna. Sometimes we use tinned sardines instead. Or, we’d abandon the sea and egg Niçoise theme and we’d slice grilled chicken, or use left-over chicken from a roast. Or, or, or, we’d use sausages! Yes! Pan-fry or grill sausages, cut them into chunks! We totally would! And when feeling luxurious, we’d use grilled lamb steaks, or beef-steak, also sliced.
  • Dressing – usually a good, mustardy vinaigrette made by H who is unnaturally good at vinaigrette (I’m hopeless). We use, well, H uses, pure Tuscan extra-virgin olive-oil, which tastes very peppery and grassy, so you may prefer to cut it with good sunflower oil, or use milder, sweeter, Spanish or Greek olive oil. And cider-vinegar, but a good wine-vinegar would also be nice (eschew malt vinegar. It’ll drown the entire salad). And garlic, french mustard, salt, pepper. Occasionally, a teaspoon of mayonnaise, or a touch of balsamic vinegar. And SHAKE. Simple. But, for the love of all that’s edible, do NOT use some low-fat pre-made bottled crap from the supermarket. Do not so insult your food. You’re eating this, not running a car on it. And anyway, the human brain is made of 30% pure fat, and so low-fat diets are stupid and make you stupid (low saturated fat diet, horse of different colour. Knock yourself out (i.e., skip the steak and lamb options above, stick to tuna).

Place all ingredients in very large bowl, toss with vigour (ho yuss) and serve.

Given how enormous this salad always ends up being, and given the immense variety of textures and flavours in it, we’ve never wanted any kind of carbohydratey food with it to feel full and satisfied.

Another good main course salad is equal quantities of diced tomatoes, cucumbers, fennel, little gem lettuce, so that you have a cereal-bowl-heaped-full of greenery/tomatoeness per person; a piece of feta cheese about the size of two small matchboxes per person, also diced to the same size as the greenery; dress with black pepper, good olive oil, and shredded basil. This one needs to be made at least half-an-hour in advance and tossed frequently thereafter until consumed. The tomato and feta juices mix with the oil and pepper and make an absolutely perfectly balanced, in terms of salt versus acidity, dressing.

Of course, now it is winter and neither of the above appeal when it’s sleeting and you’re coming home with wet feet and wet gloves and wet hair and misted-up glasses. So I will now go forth and experiment with soup.

Cautionary tale – back in September H and I were at a discount warehouse emporium, and H found a very nice dress he was sure would suit me. And it had been reduced from £70 to £20, which is jolly. And so I tried it on, and damn me sideways but I couldn’t zip it up. And then I committed the cardinal sin of the Eating Disordered everywhere, and bought it anyway, to slim into. Which usually leads to the putting on of seven pounds at least, despair, and the hiding of the dress so far at the back of the wardrobe you’ve hung it in Cair Paravel.

I tried it on yesterday. It fitted perfectly, and I looked, according to H, cute. In a gorgeous sexy sort of way, not in an ‘awww, puppy!’ way, he added, thoughtfully.

Salad! Onwards!


15 responses to “The salad and the purple dress

  • BigP's Heather

    Congrats on the hot dress and being able to get in it!!! You rock!

  • QoB

    I love your work anyway, but I would love you all over again for the reference to Cair Paravel. Also, yay for the purple dress!

  • Shannon

    I can recommend – salads are brilliant with the eggs not completely hard boiled. If they’re soft yolks, it makes a gorgeous natural dressing (unless soft boiled makes you feel squicky, in which case, avoid!) Also good with: beets (flavored with chili is nice), edible flowers, and pomegranate seeds, which are a pain in the ass but so lovely.

    I eat a lot of salads. I know of which I speak.

    Also – ooooooh, the dress! How fabulous! We can have details of the dress please, Miss?

  • Betty M

    Both salads sound fabulous! I eat a variation on enormous with feta about twice a week whether summer or not but with endless pita breads which kind of defeats the low/no carb objective.

    Loving the sound of the purple dress too. Details please.

  • Amy P

    Yay for the dress! (And also the definitions for “cute”.)

  • manapan

    Congrats on the dress! It’s one of the many times I wish you weren’t a secret blogger so you could post pictures. And yum. Now I want salad, though I am a big fan of an iceberg-heavy mix.

  • katie

    Oh that’s so satisfying!

  • Valery

    Long live the Salad Queen and the King of Dressing


  • Korechronicles

    What is soup if not simply a hot salad?

    And WHEEEEE!!! on the purple dress. I’m a big fan of purple. And of your Shrinkathon efforts.

  • a

    Soups can be greatly varied, so it will be fun to explore. My MIL is always making the soups and salads. I am not a fan of vegetables (sometimes they make my mouth itch – I think I’m allergic…to everything), but I do enjoy salad. With black or green olives. And we call spring onions green onions in my family. Scallions is much too complex a word. 🙂

    Hurray for fitting into a dress – especially an excellent value dress!

  • Womb For Improvement

    I agree salads, however tasty are not what you want on a winter’s eve. Soups, however, take so long. We need something with the ease of pasta and the carb content of water…

    • Mona

      I do enjoying your writing (not your suffering of course, but your sense of humor), so I hope I can thank you by way of submitting a food idea comment. At first was thinking soup, too, I usually boil mine a day ahead, so there’s no waiting for dinner. But the other “winter-salad” is stir fry, especially since you are adept at finely slicing. How about this one, ? It may be a bit sweet due to the honey marinade, but maybe that’s ok? I really like the blog I linked to (I am not affiliated), it is one of the few food blogs with accessible recipes, though not specifically gluten free.

  • g

    You shall have to post a picture of the dress on question on bookface. I am now very curious.

    Also, I want that salad. Sounds divine….


  • katyboo1

    sounds like my kind of salads. Doing them with grilled bacon and poached eggs and breaking the egg yolk so that it runs into the salad dressing is also very satisfying. Nom nom. So glad the dress fits. x

  • Melissia

    We also avoid the carbs, so you may want to cut down on the carrots as they have a very high sugar content. But your salads sound much like the ones we eat year round except H makes wonderful dressings, I usually just have a little balsamic with oil because I am boring. Congratulations on the dress!

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