You may think this a strange subject for a blog post but I have my reasons, the main one being I’m in love with cheese and want to include it in pretty much every meal I eat without damaging my balanced diet too much. It occurred to me the other day that there is no salad that cannot be improved with the addition of cheese (if your main priority is taste rather than losing weight that is).
I was at a gathering at a friend’s house recently and someone had bought a layered Polish salad that included not only a bit of healthy stuff like tomato and sweetcorn but also boiled egg, cheese, mayonnaise and a whole layer of ketchup. Now that is my kind of salad. Needless to say I went back for seconds (and thirds, and fourths…). So in tribute to these layers of wonder I’ve decided to investigate the concept of ‘unhealthy salads’ a bit further to see what I could rustle up…
Let me start by saying that I was somewhat surprised when I googled ‘unhealthy salads’. Instead of celebratory posts and recipes, my search pages were littered with warnings along the lines of UNHEALTHY SALADS YOU NEED TO AVOID and my heart sank just a little bit. But, there was a glimmer of hope in the form of the queen/king of unhealthy salads, the Chicken Caesar.
Yes, it contains quite a bit of lettuce, but that is more than counter-balanced by the presence of the rich, creamy dressing and all that bacon, and I guess if you’re going to use leftover fried chicken that might up the unhealthy factor a bit too. However, the best Chicken Caesar salad I ever encountered was one made with smoked chicken which I’m guessing has slightly less fat content, and that lettuce I mentioned before? Well, if you use romaine lettuce it actually tastes rather flavoursome and lovely and not like eating something healthy at all. So the key word here is balance it seems.
On the subject of bacon and creamy dressings, another salad-type dish has entered my life recently. A little while back we visited a small burger chain and one of their side dishes was a section of iceberg lettuce drenched in blue cheese dressing and bacon bits. Needless to say, I’ve made my husband replicate this at home on a number of occasions since and very delicious it is too. Again with the lettuce – there’s no need to make eating it a chore. Lettuce actually tastes nice. There, I said it. You just need to serve it in the right way (hint: this usually includes some sort of cheese element).
Another favourite that always makes an appearance in the summer months – the traditional Greek salad. A forkful of feta cheese, Kalamata olives, red onion, cucumber and the most flavoursome of tomato is a combination made in heaven, tasting fresh and salty and cooling all at the same time. This is my favourite accompaniment to a perfectly barbequed medium rare steak, but I’ve been known to have a bowlful on its own for my lunch too.
So let’s ignore search engine results that think unhealthy salads are a bad thing. Most ‘unhealthy’ salads are in fact balanced meals in their own right. Yes, you might have a rather fattening cheese, meat or cream element but look, you’ve got all those vegetables too, just like a normal, balanced plate of food should.