Garbage Bowl

Sounds terrible, right?

Quite the opposite actually…

A few weeks ago, I was really craving Portillo’s/Barnelli’s chopped salad.  I love the way everything is chopped so finely so you get a taste of all the ingredients in every bite!  So I set off to make a “mock” chopped salad.  I used romaine lettuce, leftover whole wheat penne pasta, leftover grilled chicken breast scallions, and tomatoes.  I didn’t have any bacon or gorgonzola cheese so I used goat cheese crumbles and I also added avocado.  I diced and chopped everything up and mixed with a bit of light Caesar dressing.  Delish!  It definitely satisfied my craving.

I got to thinking and realized chopped salad is really a simple concept.  And extremely easy – no recipe needed – just cut, dice and chop up a variety of ingredients, throw into a bowl, and mix it up!  Voila!  Lunch or dinner… done!

I usually try to use leftovers in my fridge that need to be eaten.  I tend to make these bowls when I’m lazy and can’t come up with any inspiring recipes or don’t feel like running to the store for additional ingredients.  The possibilities are endless.  Since I rarely have the same ‘leftover’ ingredients, no bowl ever tastes the same which keeps it interesting and allows me to experiment with different flavor combinations.

For a garbage salad bowl, I usually start with lettuce (or baby spinach) cut up very finely so it blends well with the other ingredients.  From there, I add lots of veggies, some type of protein, dressing, and whatever other toppings seem appealing that day.

Veggies might include:

– Any frozen veggies (I pour them into some warm water to thaw while prepping the rest of the bowl.)

– Corn

– Broccoli

– Peppers (red, green, orange, yellow)

– Carrots

– Snap peas

– Red onion or scallions

– Mushrooms

– Tomatoes

– Avocado

– Sweet potato

Proteins:

– Leftover grilled chicken breasts

– Deli turkey

– Beans (kidney or black beans, chickpeas, etc.)

– Cottage cheese

Other toppings (this is the best part!)

– Hummus

– Salsa

– Feta cheese

– Goat cheese

– Fresh herbs (cilantro, basil, rosemary, etc.)

– Leftover pasta, rice, bulgar or other grain

– Nuts (almonds, pistachios, walnuts, peanuts, etc.)

Finally, I top it off with a bit of dressing for flavor.  I like Newman’s Own Balsamic Vinaigrette.  Or simply olive oil and vinegar (red wine, balsamic, apple cider) and a squeeze of a lemon or lime.  Or sometimes I actually don’t put much of any dressing if I use cottage cheese/hummus/salsa for one of my toppings.

So here was my garbage salad bowl for lunch today:

I began with a bed of finely chopped romaine lettuce.  Starting at the top of the bowl and going clockwise, I added red onion, cottage cheese, peas, corn, grape tomatoes, roasted red pepper hummus, and broccoli.  Avocado and fresh rosemary were in the middle and feta cheese sprinkled over the top.  I also added a splash of red wine vinegar, olive oil, and juice from 1/2 of a lime.

Then I mixed everyone together…

…and devoured! 😛

-Lauren

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