The Dad “Cooks:” A Salad

So it’s time for dinner. You’ve made your kids biscuits and gravy for breakfast and cowboy beans for lunch. Thinking back on it, yesterday they had Swedish pancakes for breakfast, peanut butter and jelly for lunch, and leftovers from last week’s barbecue chicken for dinner (the less said about dinner from the night before that, the better). Here, then, is the Dad’s “Oh, crap, I just realized I haven’t served my kids fruit or vegetables in at least two days” salad.

The real trick with this one is to use whatever’s at hand while still creating something that’s healthy (because that’s the point) and still resembles something your family would want to eat. This particular salad was put together while under fire — it was dinner time now and I had to throw something together — so there aren’t any pictures. Just use your imagination.

The Dad’s “Oh, Crap, I Just Realized I Haven’t Served My Kids Fruit or Vegetables in at Least Two Days” Salad

First, we need something green and leafy. We’re in a CSA, so surely we have something that will fit the bill. Let’s see… There’s kale, turnip greens, another bag of kale, cabbage, kale leftover from last week, spinach, and some arugula. I’m going to go with the arugula, but the spinach would probably work just as well. Regular ol’ lettuce is great for most salads but not for what I have in mind here.

Get a big bowl and put the arugula in it.

It’s Fall, so we definitely have some apples. I’m just going to use half of one so I don’t deplete the Wife’s supply too much (after all, sometimes she gets the bug to make an apple pie, or apple cake, or cinnamon apples over ice cream, or some other wonderful treat of that nature). Cut the apple up into bits that are an appropriate size for the baby to eat. Set some aside for the baby.

Put the sliced apple into the bowl. Wait, don’t do that yet. First, wash the arugula, then put it back in the bowl, then put the apple bits in.

Let’s try thinking ahead a little. Instead of what we were about to do, let’s get out a little skillet and get about a quarter of a stick of butter melting on it. Got your attention now, huh? Yeah, this is gonna be a great salad. Grab a bag of pecans from the pantry. Once the butter has melted, put about two tablespoons of brown sugar in there. Stir it up, and turn it on mediumish heat.

While we’re waiting for the brown sugar to caramelize, get some goat cheese out of the fridge. How much do we put in the salad? I dunno. Enough. Whether you scoop it out of its packaging with a knife, fork, or spoon, it should crumble up nicely as you scrape it into the bowl.

Now, back to the stove. Ideally, you want to turn the heat off right when the mixture of brown sugar and butter is just starting to turn dark and sticky. I’ve done this bit two or three times now, and in my experience its better to take the heat off too soon than too late. Now, throw a bunch of pecans into the skillet and mix them around to get a good coating. If your timing was just right, they should get covered in a dark, tar-like substance that hardens when it cools. If you did this step too early, you’ll just end up with pecans smothered in a brown sugar/butter mixture that just stays wet when it cools. Either way, this most difficult part of this recipe is right here where you’re tempted to just give your kids the arugula, apples, and goat cheese while you stand in the kitchen and eat sweet, buttery pecans directly out of the skillet.

Assuming you don’t give in to that temptation, dump the pecans in the bowl with the rest and pour some balsamic vinegar over it all for dressing. As you mix it all up, the still-hot pecans will get the goat cheese melty. I kinda think that’s a shame, but it does distribute the stuff more evenly throughout the salad if you mix it all up thoroughly.

That’s it. Dump some into salad bowls for the kids, find something for the baby to go along with the cut-up apple bits, and eat yours out of the big bowl you mixed it all up in (because the pecans like to hide on the bottom during the mixing process). Enjoy!


* A big bowl of arugula

* Half an apple, diced (that does mean “cut into small bits,” right?)

* 2 tablespoons of butter

* 2 tablespoons of brown sugar

* Pecans or half pecans or pecan bits sufficient to cover the bottom of the skillet

* Goat cheese — as much as you can get away with

* Balsamic vinegar

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