Last Minute Dinner Salads/Lent or Anytime

Last Minute Dinner Salads

One Ash Wednesday Husband came home late as he went to Mass after working overtime. Our sons and I had eaten our Twice-Baked Potatoes(next post) and the one good thing about them is that it is easy to make just enough, if you don’t care for leftovers. (Although they do freeze quite well for a short term, like 4-6 months).
When Husband came in, he informed me that his boss had been at Mass as well and he had invited the man to dinner.
Husband has done this to me a few times. When we got married I had never cooked for less than six people and we ate a lot of leftovers,(fortunately, I learned to freeze things well.) Let me make a couple of steaks, or a couple of chicken breasts and, used to having too much food, that seemed to be exactly when the Husband would invite someone to stay. I was always last-minute hustling!

I had to stow the baked potato and put together a salad with what I had on hand. I added small shrimp which I fortunately had left over from making the potatoes and I put in some diced cheese. I served rolls and crackers and the men ate well…the boss was none the wiser!

If I have posted on salads before, it bears repeating: Almost any vegetable can go into a salad, as well as fruits and not all of them need to be fresh. I have had someone break up a head of iceberg lettuce, pour on bottled ranch dressing and call it salad and I have had salads that included everything imaginable. You can put together a nice salad with many things you should already have on hand. Hopefully, you have some greens, a lettuce or spinach. Even if you don’t, you can wing it. Here is a list, although not complete, of what you can include in a nice dinner salad:

Any type of ‘greens’, iceberg or leaf lettuce, spinach, parsley, mustard greens, turnip greens
we all know:
carrots
tomatoes
cucumber
radishes

but how about:
celery
shredded parsnips
fresh pea pods
broccoli
cauliflower,
sweet peppers
bok choy
grated zucchini or squash
thinly sliced onions or leeks
diced green onions

Use your imagination

You can add fruit in with vegetables as long as they are firm, such as :
Pears
Apples

If you know your guests can tolerate seeds and nuts, you can add:[*See Note]

Almonds/Hazelnuts/Walnuts/Pine nuts, etc.

Peanuts

Sesame seeds

Sunflower seeds

Pumpkin seeds (roasted)

 

And, especially in a pinch, these canned items do a good job in rounding out sparse fresh veggies:
corn
peas,
beets
green beans
wax beans
chick peas/black eyed peas/
kidney/navy/pinto/black beans
black or green olive
pineapple
sliced apple rings
pearl onions

And I always keep pickled vegetables,(giardiniera ) on hand.

Mix and match, pick and choose. Add tiny shrimp/ crab or imitation crab meat, shredded or diced cheese,(Cheddars, Swiss, Provolone, Monterrey Jack, Pepper Jack, Havarti Muenster); you can also do a great job with diced ham, chicken, roast beef or turkey cold cuts, (or ‘Tofurkey’). Diced hard-boiled eggs can be added at the last minute,(they will break up in the tossing and it isn’t pretty.)You can use leftover roasts, chicken or whatever flavorful meat you have on hand.
With this type of salad, you may find that you don’t need dressing. If you have guests, allow them the option. On the other hand, I have found that if the flavors are a bit bland, I add some that I like to whip up quickly on my own using Olive oil and pomegranate molasses, which is bitter, contrary to it’s name, so I add honey or a syrup. I also have several vinegars on my shelf to use. However, there are perfectly good bottled dressings out there, and several flavors are in my refrigerator as I type this; use them.

As I did, serve with crackers, fancy beads or rolls. You can add prepared rice, couscous, barley or small pasta for a one-bowl meal, or serve a simple couscous, rice or pasta dish on the side.

[*Note]The real beauty is that these can be made for Lent, pescaterian, vegetarian or vegan.It is gluten-free, (without  cheese), dairy-free and can be served with meats, cheeses, fish, seeds/nuts, grains and  pasta on the side, if you are unsure of your guests’ needs.

I hope this gives you some ideas…and I hope you try some of the ideas, not only for Lent,(meatless), but throughout the year. These are wonderful in hot weather for a light but filling and nutritious meal that anyone can be proud to serve…quick and praise-worthy!

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10 thoughts on “Last Minute Dinner Salads/Lent or Anytime

    1. Tonette Joyce

      Thanks,Tamara. I have been in the position several times myself, and been whisked into someone’s kitchen who ‘got stuck’.I hope someone finds this helpful.

      Reply
  1. hotlyspiced

    My husband always does that to me too; always invites someone for dinner and doesn’t think to give me any advanced warning. In fact my kids to the same thing. I always cook for a couple of extras and if nobody extra turns up that’s just fine, we eat the leftovers for lunch the next day. Also, when you leave a comment on my blog, the web address you leave doesn’t link back to you. It comes up saying it’s incorrect. You might want to check the settings xx

    Reply
    1. Tonette Joyce

      The one home I never hesitated to accept a last minute invitation was my (then-future) mother-in-laws…she had 15 kids, not all of whom were ever there at one time, so I knew there would be plenty…and it was always good, too.
      Charlie, I have no idea why some of the sites won’t take my website addresses, (either one; this one, or the shared writers’ blog). Yours is one that won’t let me sign in on WordPress; have to use my Google ID.I just have to remember to cut&paste this address when I post.
      Thanks do much for your effort to get to me; I really appreciate it!

      Reply
    1. Tonette Joyce

      No, no, it CAN be but it doesn’t have to be.I try to show that ANYONE can put together good meals and be proud of them.
      Thank you ,Sharmishtha, for all your support.

      Reply
  2. mjanevalquist

    Tonette, I love all of your recipes. I will definitely be trying this and all of your other fish recipes and they’ll be my “go-to’s” for Lent!

    Reply
    1. Tonette Joyce Post author

      Oh, thank you!.Please, do check into my other posts.This blog started as a letter to answer someone looking for Lenten recipes. You will find many meatless meals and ideas here. I’m here to help.
      Nice of you to come by!

      Reply

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