It’s taken me ages to get around to making the “heavily” voted-for Last Meal Salad from Sprouted Kitchen Bowl+Spoon. I needed my blender back from my parents, time to test new recipes, and enough of a week ahead of me to eat through the salad leftovers. This past week was the week it all came together, and I’m so glad I finally got around to trying this.
Before I go any further, let’s be real about this. If I were to pick my last meal on this earth, it would not be a salad. I don’t care how good the salad is, and I suppose there could be some salad on the side, but my preferences lean more towards tons of sushi from Sadako in Ann Arbor or something involving great bread and a lot of cheese, like the croque monsieur from DAK, followed by triple chocolate mousse or a large slice of rich cake with homemade vanilla ice cream (and homemade hot fudge sauce, because, why not?). I’ve honestly never given much thought to what I’d choose to have as my last meal, although when I was younger and more foolish, my “last meal” before embarking on a healthier diet definitely included ice cream, not salad.
With that bit out of the way, let’s get back to this last meal salad. I’ve eaten it every day, at least once per day, for the last 5 days and I’m not tired of it yet. It’s very good. There are a lot of different flavors and textures going on, and it includes two of my favorite salad toppings: dried cranberries and feta. I skipped the marcona almonds in favor of cashews, because that’s what I had on hand, but any nut you like will work here.
The salad itself is pretty easy to prep. You’ll need to slice, rinse well, then sauté a leek (or two) until crispy, rinse and dry some arugula and red leaf lettuce (or other greenery you prefer), and dice up your cucumber and avocado. If you don’t have leftover grain – either the black lentils called for or another smallish legume/seed (e.g., lentils du Puy, quinoa, couscous, or millet (what I used)) – you’ll also need to make that. Then the leek(s), grains, and legumes will need time to dry. The dressing itself is not overly labor intensive, but it does still take a while. There are a lot of ingredients in the dressing and these need to be located and chopped/measured. Adding to the prep time, I evaluated how much parsley, cilantro, and basil was in a 1/2 cup or 2 cup measure, since I hate stuffing greenery into measuring cups but I didn’t want to mess up the ratios here.
When my salad was finally ready to eat, it had taken me at least an hour. If you knock off time for taking photos and being disorganized, it’s still probably a 30-45 minute salad plus dressing. However, after that upfront time investment in the dressing, I had at least two cups of incredibly perky dressing ready to go for the week.
The biggest bonus is this dressing – the everyday green dressing goes with more than just this salad. I drizzled it on my eggs, over cold sliced steak, on riced cauliflower and peas with more avocado, on toast before the avocado smash,…it’s very multipurpose. It would also be good with most fish, or as the base for tuna salad instead of mayo.
As for the salad itself, I liked it quite a bit, but I didn’t really catch the crunchiness of the crispy leeks and I think it probably could have used another head of red leaf lettuce (mine was quite small). It didn’t seem like there was enough greenery for 4-6 people to be adequately saladed… on the other hand, I like a greens-heavy salad. This salad does keep quite well – I refrigerated dressed leftovers and they were still tangy and crisp the next day.
Original source: Sprouted Kitchen Bowl+Spoon.
The Last Meal Salad
Assuming you already have cooked lentils or some other small grain/pseudoseed, this salad and the accompanying dressing takes about 45 minutes to prepare. Once you've made the dressing though, you'll have enough for several other salads, so it's worth the "extra" time.
Everyday Green Dressing (makes 2 cups)
- 2 cloves garlic
- 3 green onions white and green parts, roughly chopped
- 2 tablespoons drained capers
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- Zest and juice of 2 lemons ideally Meyer
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 cup whole-milk Greek yogurt plain
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 cups firmly packed basil leaves about 8 sprigs
- 3/4 cup flat-leaf parsley about 1/2 a bunch
- 1 cup cilantro* about 1 bunch
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 large leek halved and well-cleaned
- pinch Kosher salt
- 4 cups (5 ounces) arugula
- 1 large head (5 ounces) red leaf lettuce chopped
- 1 medium English cucumber finely diced
- 1 cup cherries pitted and halved (or 1/3 cup dried cherries)
- 1/2 cup black lentils cooked
- 1/2 cup Marcona almonds coarsely chopped
- 1/2 cup sheep's milk feta crumbled
- 2 medium avocados pitted and diced
Everyday Green Dressing
In a food processor, pulse together the garlic, green onions, capers, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, lemon zest and juice, and the honey. Once they are combined, add the apple cider vinegar, yogurt, Parmesan, basil, parsley, and cilantro. With the motor running at the lowest setting, carefully drizzle in the olive oil. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed (or add more vinegar or oil for your personal taste). Keep covered in the refrigerator until ready to use (up to one week maximally).
Last Meal Salad
Heat the 2 teaspoons olive oil over medium heat in a large pan. Clean the leek, halve it lengthwise, then slice it into half moons and add to the heated pan. Add the pinch of salt and cook the leeks, stirring infrequently, until the edges become crispy, about 6-10 minutes. Set aside to cool completely.
While the leek cooks, wash and dry the arugula and lettuce. Chop or tear the lettuce into bite-sized pieces. Add the greens to a large salad bowl.
While the crispy leek cools, prepare the remaining produce for your salad. Add the diced cucumber, halved cherries, cooked lentils, chopped almonds, crumbed feta, and half the diced avocado to the large salad bowl.
Once cooled completely, add the crispy leeks to the salad bowl. Drizzle with some of the Everyday Green Dressing, then toss to fully combine. Add the remaining half of the diced avocado, and serve immediately (with extra dressing on the side).
*Replace the cilantro with some tarragon, dill, or chives if you or a guest has an aversion to the herb.