Is there anything more annoying than ordering a salad—once you've decided that, yes, you should order a salad—and then being presented with a little pile of icy leaves, tasteless cucumber hunks, and one pale slab of tomato, all dumped into some sort of oil slick?
It always makes me wonder, "Why is this salad so angry?"
The angry salad: not to be confused with the depressed salad, its wilty and lifeless cousin. Neither of these is a true salad, by the way. They fulfill the technical requirements: lettuce plus other veggies, sliced and mixed together, with a viscous coating for extra flavor. But they adhere only to the letter, not the spirit.
And yet even in 2011, when we all know what's good for us, all too often these mad and sad "greens" are passed off as meals.
It doesn't have to be this way. And it certainly shouldn't be this way at this time of year, when produce is at its best.
This year's summer food issue takes a look at how to put the idea of the "balanced diet" to work in your own life. We examine four elements of the new federal recommendations for healthy eating: a diet with more greens and whole grains, and less salt and saturated fat. Food Editor Robyn Webb devised some very clever recipes along these lines. I was particularly impressed with her flavorful alternatives to foods that are typically high in sodium. No more briny canned soup!
In addition to Robyn's specific ideas, you may notice that the balanced diet works best when it is built on great raw ingredients, treated gently. And that's certainly the case when it comes to good salad.
So reject that boilerplate iceberg. Send back those anemic tomatoes. Demand happy salads, and make the world a happier, healthier place.