There is a little hole-in-the-wall cafe in Modesto California call The Brighter Side. It is only open for lunch and usually crowed but so worth the wait. Once I manged to find the entrance I opted for a chef salad with, my favorite splurge, blue cheese dressing (no dieting here). The salad consisted of a bed of lettuce, a few slices of beets, a sprinkle of garbanzo beans, a cucumber or two, shredded deli turkey slices, tomato wedges and cheese. There are days I crave this salad. I have tried to replicate it at home without success. It is just not the same. My mother-n-law always comments that when someone else makes a meal it tastes so much better. She has a point. I think of my dad and his feeble attempt to successfully recreate a subway sandwich. He would throw his hands up and exclaim how he bought all the same ingredients so why doesn’t his sandwich taste like Subway’s? I am going to side with Nadine and say it tastes better when someone else makes it. I will also inject something my niece Jennifer passed on from culinary school. Restaurants use lots of butter and sugar. Moreover I recently read an article that claimed there are healthier choices than chick peas and beets.
We do not have to worry about butter or the lack of fortified vitamins and minerals here. This salad is packed with a supersized amount of cancer fighting vitamins and it tastes like someone else made it. I made a few changes mostly because I knew the kids were not going to eat lettuce laden with balsamic vinaigrette without a fight. Instead I threw all the veggies in a bowl and served the cheese and dressing on the side. I also left the broccoli raw.
Source: Woman’s Day
1 large ripe tomato, cut into bite sized pieces
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 cup thinly sliced red bell pepper
1/3 cup balsamic vinaigrette
1 pkg (16 oz) cheese tortellini
4 cups broccoli florets
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
1 bag (5 oz) spring lettuce mixture
1 cup (4 oz) smoked or regular mozzarella, cut into small cubes
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Meanwhile combine tomato, onion, pepper and dressing in a large bowl. Leave at room temperature.
Add tortellini to boiling water, cook as package directs, adding broccoli to pot 5 minutes before tortellini is done. Drain, rinse under cold water. Add to tomato mixture; add basil and toss to mix.
Arrange 1 cup lettuce, top with tortellini mixture and mozzarella.
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tsp dark brown sugar, optional*
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup olive oil
Beat the vinegar in a bowl with the optional sugar, garlic, salt and pepper until sugar and salt dissolves. Then beat in the oil by droplets, whisking constantly. (Or place all the ingredients in a screw-top jar and shake to combine.) Taste and adjust the seasonings. If not using dressing right away, cover and refrigerate, whisking or shaking again before use.
*If using a good quality balsamic vinegar you should not need the sugar, but if using a lesser quality you might want the sugar to round out the dressing.