Friday, September 26, 2008

Grape and Feta Salad with Rosemary: Salad for Salad Haters

I am not a salad girl.

Sure, I’ll order a side salad on occasion. And in days gone by, I frequented a local deli for their thoroughly filling version of Caesar’s greenery. Yet, I never, ever seek out salads at restaurants, and will only rarely throw one together as part of dinner. In general, I believe for a salad to be really good, it has to be drenched with pecans, cranberries, cheese, and dressing, OR located on top of a burger.

Don’t ask, then, why Serious Eats/Cook Illustrated’s Grape and Feta Salad with Rosemary salad appealed to me. I have no idea. As a beleaguered Mets fan (who was at last night’s game and almost froze to death but does not regret it ONE SINGLE BIT), I’ve been making a lot of strange, emotional decisions lately. Like this morning? At work? I almost cried watching highlights of Oregon State beating USC in college football. I’ve never watched a full Pac-10 game in my life, and the sight of happy Beavers dancing (which sounds lewder than it is) almost launched me into apoplexy.

But back to the salad. It looked pretty dang appetizing, and there were grapes and feta close to expiration in the fridge, so there you go. Assembly took about 10 seconds, and the result was truly impressive – the perfect halfway point between the Boring Naked Garden salad and the Overloaded Cholesterol Bomb salad.

What’s more, The Boyfriend was overjoyed. Because, despite his glorious manliness and profusion of muscles – man loves him some salad. (Don’t ask why we’re together. I think it’s because he lets me borrow his t-shirts.)

If you decide to go forth, some things to know:

1) I used reduced-fat feta instead of full-fat, and reduced it from 1/3rd of a pound to 1/4th. Most mass-market block feta seems to come in four-ounce blocks, and the dressing was still delicious, so it didn’t do any harm.

2) Raspberry vinegar is just about the only vinegar I don’t have on-hand, so I substituted white wine vinegar. It worked perfectly.

3) Field greens are often costly, and iceberg lettuce bores the everloving crud out of me, so I compromised and used Boston lettuce. Wicked good, I say.

As I’m a drooling knucklehead, there was no picture taken for this meal. So I’m subbing in Serious Eats’ photo, with the hope that they’ll forgive me and/or I can bribe them with chocolate, pizza, or a serving of their own salad. Enjoy!

Grape and Feta Salad with Rosemary
Serves 4
Adapted from Serious Eats/Cook's Illustrated.
NOTE: This is Nick Kindelsperger's picture. You can tell by the good lighting and appealing appearance of the food. I apologize for using it, but my pic was ... traumatic.

¼ pound feta cheese, crumbled
1/2 pound grapes, halved, and seeded if necessary
2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salad greens (about 1 1/2 quarts)
1 tablespoon raspberry vinegar (I used white wine vinegar. – Kris)
Salt and pepper

1) In a small bowl, combine cheese, grapes, rosemary, and olive oil. Grind a little on pepper on top.

2) In a large bowl, combine greens and vinegar, tossing gently. Salt to taste.

3) Serve greens topped with cheese mixture. Enjoy!

Approximate Calories, Fat, and Price Per Serving
168 calories, 11 g fat, $1.03

¼ pound feta cheese, crumbled: 234 calories, 15 g fat, $1.60
1/2 pound grapes, halved, and seeded if necessary: 157 calories, 0.4 g fat, $0.48
2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, minced: 2 calories, 0.1 g fat, $0.20
2 tablespoons olive oil: 237 calories, 26.8 g fat, $0.24
Salad greens (about 1 1/2 quarts): 43 calories, 0.7 g fat, $1.49
1 tablespoon raspberry (or white wine) vinegar: negligible calories and fat, $0.08
Salt and pepper: negligible calories and fat, $0.02
TOTAL: 673 calories, 43 g fat, $4.11
PER SERVING (TOTAL/4): 168 calories, 11 g fat, $1.03


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