When they said that everything changes when you have children, I didn’t realize that this would extend to my tastebuds! In my postpartum life, I am suddenly obsessed with two opposites: sugar and salad. (But Molly, you’ve always been obsessed with sugar? I mean, I’ve always been obsessed with making things with sugar, but until 18 weeks ago I would have chosen a pile of cheese fries over ice cream any day. Now... not so much.) We can argue about the sugar thing later but today’s post is about my new heightened love of ~salad~. It started literally from the day after Bernie was born. I had my token I’m-not-pregnant-anymore Jimmy John’s Italian Nightclub on white bread and then my excellent friend Heather texted that she would like to deliver a gigantic salad to me at the hospital. She brought me a big container of greens with chopped apple and cheddar and a bunch of colorful veggies and held my one-day-old Bernie while I gobbled up every last leaf. It was the tastiest thing in the world. Not just because Heather is one of my favorite chefs in the world but also because something had changed in my tastebuds that made me love raw vegetables and forkfuls of greens like never before. So that salad was the first salad of the rest of my postpartum salad-obsessed life and what happened after that was Eggboy and I proceeded to live on salads. Friends and Eggmom delivered tons of salads and I got mediumly good at balancing a salad bowl on the arm of the recliner while I nursed Bernie. And then after we ate all of the salad deliveries, we cobbled together as many salads as we could. I’d put Bernie in her sling and try to assemble a salad without having to chop anything because I didn’t want to use a knife while she was on me, or I’d try to direct Eggboy in making a salad but salad making requires serious multitasking skills and, erm, they don’t not call him Multitaskingboy for nothing (sorry!!!), so what we found was that salad kits are a great invention!!! Wow, they are so good at getting crunchy greens into my mouth. They make salads achievable in 30 seconds. They come with cute bags of crunchy things and tiny bags of seasoning that look like dime bags! The dressings are fatty and ok tasting! My first few journeys out of the house with Bernie were to the Hugo’s salad section, where I’d get a dozen salad kits at a time. We’d gobble them up multiple times a day. I know what you’re thinking though, and I absolutely agree: salad kits are flawed. There aren’t enough crunchies, the nuts are too brittle, the dressing is probably loaded with crazy ingredients I’ve never heard of, and where is the protein! I never said they were perfect, but they got me dreaming...
In the produce section of my grocery store dreams, salad kits are way more luxurious. They come with fluffy butter-fried pita croutons, crispy salty chickpeas, a small bag of za’atar, feta (!), and creamy tahini dressing. And you know what they say about dreams, make them come true! So now that Bernie has gotten pretty good at sitting in her bouncy chair, playing with her toys, listening to Raffi, and keeping me company in the kitchen, my hands have been free enough to do some salad prep at the beginning of the week, eliminating my need to clear out the salad kit section. It’s so fun. We sing Down By The Bay and squeeze lemons into tahini and whenever something smells particularly good I stick it under Bernie’s nose so she can take a whiff. So far the only thing that’s yielded a huge smile is the freshly baked pita that I was about to turn into croutons. Same, Bern, same.
So here’s a little non-recipe to get your juices flowing so that you can create your own salad kits with whatever’s looking good in your garden, your favorite cheeses and dressings, and whatever forgotten chunk of bread you have lying around that’s waiting to be crouton’d. I usually just pile all of the prepped veggies in a container or bag and then make separate containers of cheese, dressing, croutons, and a protein so that everything is ready to dump and go, easy peasy. Make a few at a time! Make one to deliver to a friend! Go wild!
Crispy Chickpea Salad Kit with Butter Fried Croutons
Veggies: In a big container, pile in fresh spinach or other greens, halved grape tomatoes, chopped cucumbers, chopped red onion, thinly sliced radishes, and chopped fresh mint. Store in the fridge for up to three days.
Chickpeas: Drain, rinse, and dry a can of chickpeas and dump them onto a rimmed baking sheet. Toss with a good drizzle of olive oil and salt and pepper. Roast at 350ºf for 50 minutes, tossing occasionally. Let cool and transfer to a container. Store at room temp for up to four days.
Feta: Put a big handful in a cute container 🤷🏻♀️Store in the fridge.
Za’atar: Put a teaspoon or so in a tiny bag. Seal with a cute piece of washi tape.
Tahini dressing: Mix 1/4 c tahini with a squeeze of lemon juice and 3-4 tb water until creamy and pourable. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a cute jar and store in the fridge for up to four or five days. If it gets too thick to pour while it’s in the fridge, mix in a little more water before serving.
Butter fried croutons: Heat a good layer of butter in a pan over medium and tear up two thick fluffy pitas into the pan. Fry until golden and crispy on the outside but still a little chewy on the inside (I like em best this way!) transfer to a plate, sprinkle with salt, and let cool. Store in a container at room temperature for four or five days.