Cooking columnist Sybil Pratt has spent a lot of time looking at “Mom” cookbooks, or as she calls them, “solving-the-everyday-need-to-feed-the-family” cookbooks. Our Cookbook of the Month, The Mom 100 Cookbook, is one of the best.
Its 100 recipes tackle all the major hurdles of planning a family dinner, from picky eaters to vegetarians, from making dishes ahead of time to letting kids help with the cooking.
Kitchen Sink Chopped Salad
Years ago, when my kids were very young, an oversize, green, gently serrated plastic knife appeared in our kitchen, probably having migrated there from an old Play-Doh set or some kiddie kitchen kit that was given to them. Anyway, it became Charlie’s knife. “Where’s my knife?” he’d demand, with a certain amount of Gordon Ramsay-ish inflection. It is a great knife, sharp enough to actually cut things like cheese and tomatoes, not sharp enough to cut things like Charlie. It has been used by Charlie to make many a salad in our house. If you can find a knife like this it’s a great thing to have on hand, especially if your child feels a sense of ownership about it, which leads naturally to participation in the kitchen. Curiouschef.com has kid-friendly knives, for your young chef garde manger (French for “the cold food sous chef guy”).
This is a kitchen sink salad. As in, Step 1: Open vegetable bins and peer inside. Step 2: Save any slightly depressing looking vegetables for soup (see Vegetable Bin Stone Soup on page 79) and pull out the rest for this big-bowl salad. The veggies listed are merely suggestions. You might also try slices of pear or apple. Moreover, this immediately becomes a main dish (though possibly non-vegetarian) salad if you add chopped cooked chicken, steak, tuna fish, shrimp, tofu, hard-boiled eggs . . . let your leftovers be your guide.
- 2 hearts of romaine lettuce, sliced crosswise into 1⁄2-inch ribbons
- 1 red bell pepper (or orange, yellow, or green), stemmed,
seeded, and diced
- 2 large carrots, peeled and sliced or shredded
- 1 can (14 ounces) artichoke bottoms, cut into 1⁄4-inch dice,
or 1 jar (6 ounces) marinated artichoke hearts, drained
and coarsely chopped
- 1 cup thinly sliced seedless or English cucumber
- 1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half
- 1⁄2 cup chopped or slivered red onion
- 1⁄4 cup sliced pitted black olives (any kind)
- 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 cup shredded or grated cheese, such as Parmesan, cheddar, Swiss, mozzarella, or whatever cheese your family likes (optional)
- 1⁄4 to 1⁄3 cup Classic Vinaigrette (page 94), to taste, or a salad dressing of your choice
Mix together the lettuce, bell pepper, carrots, artichokes, cucumber, tomatoes, onion, and olives in a large serving bowl (alternately you can line up the ingredients on a bed of the lettuce). Toss in the cheese, if using. Add the vinaigrette and toss again. Serve.