Pushing the limits

Cobb Salad. A classic summer dish that my mother would always break out as soon as she deemed it “too hot to cook.”  She would throw a variety of toppings on a table, a big bowl of greens and voila, the most delicious meal.

A traditional Cobb Salad usually consists of some sort of bacon or chicken, hardboiled eggs, and cheese on top of a pile of greens and vegetables, mostly corn, tomatoes and onion. Growing up, my mother would always serve cold cuts as the meat option. My first job was working at a grocery store deli. That experience alone was enough to get me off processed meat forever, however I dug a bit deeper, gaining an education on the harmfulness of processed meat and I purposely forgot about my mom’s classic summer dish.

This was until recently. The farming season has begun, which for me, means long harvest days where time is of the essence. Beating the days heat requires early mornings of work followed by big beautiful post-harvest lunches. On our second week of harvest, not entirely prepared or in the swing of things I had brought one cold leftover sausage in hopes of coming up with an idea for it by lunch time. I realized I had an entire garden of produce, and simply needed a few things to round out the meal. One of those things ended up being this sausage, sliced thinly onto a bed of salad.

Part of eating sustainably on a low budget is seeing the value of foods and understanding which things you can afford to eat a lot of and which things will give you great amounts of satisfaction from small bites.

When I was in university, I stopped eating meat. It was too expensive, especially if I were to purchase it from a local farmer. Looking back, I realized this perceived expense was based on how I consumed animal proteins. They do not have to be the main part of the dish. For example, instead of roast chicken with a side of vegetables, switch to roast vegetables with a little chicken on top, stretching one serving to two.

Here is the recipe of the salad we had the other day for a post-harvest lunch. The idea and philosophy can be applied to a wide variety of meats and bases.

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Harvest Salad

Servings: 2

1 cold cooked sausage (or 1 serving of any leftover meat)

1 hardboiled egg

2 bowls of salad greens

1 cup of chopped vegetables (Spring time, use radish, mid summer double this amount and use tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, beets, and whatever else you can find at the market)

1/3 cup of your favourite dressing (ours is: equal parts maple syrup and cider vinegar with a sprinkle of salt)

Fresh herbs (optional)

Pickles (optional)

Sprinkle of nuts or seeds

  1. Toss greens in dressing
  2. Divide onto two plates
  3. Thinly slice cold sausage and egg, sprinkle half of each on each plate
  4. Top each plate with half of the chopped veg, cheese, and fresh herbs
  5. For an added crunch, see how to make your own croutons using leftover bread below! You can also serve with toast or fresh bread.

Croutons*

  1. Cube stale bread into bite sized pieces.
  2. Toss in salt, pepper, olive oil and additional desired spices.
  3. Bake on baking sheet in oven at 350 for about 15 minutes until browned.
  4. Store in airtight container and use as needed.

I purchase all my bread from local bakers who use old world methods of sour dough and whole grains. This bread is not as shelf stable as bagged bread found in grocery stores. Fortunately it is so delicious that it tends not to last long enough to go stale, however the ends are always lurking around. I taught a class on different ways to use these ends at Covent Garden Market. We made an awesome bread pudding with lots of eggs and butter which was delicious, but now that I think about it, perhaps tossing the bread ends would be cheaper than all of the ingredients required for such an elaborate dessert! If you’re interested I’ll post the link here.

I hope this post helps people re-think the cost of certain food items. If these foods make us feel nourished and well, we need to see the value in that and recognize that a little bit will go a long way if we need it too.

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