Posted by: Hil | November 11, 2009

Concept Cooking

I hate following recipes.  I love to read them, but I hate to follow them.  My mother is the same way.  When I was a kid, she always talked about wanting a concept cookbook:  one that focused on rough formulas rather than exact measurements.  As an adult, I have become very reliant on a handful of simple, flexible formulas into which I can plug whatever ingredients I have on hand to make a tasty dinner.  So I am starting a new “concept cooking” feature on this blog.  I have added a new page on which I will catalogue each “formula” as I post it.  The formulas are extremely simple, but provide a good no-brainer way to create something that looks pretty, tastes good and is nutritionally balanced.  First up is an old favorite:  my hearty salad formula. 

The Hearty Salad

People always comment on the salads that I bring for lunch.  “That looks good,” they say.  “What’s in it?”  Whenever I tell them, a strange look usually passes over their face.  “Wow,” they say.  People might not believe it, but my salads are usually simple and almost always invented spur of the moment using whatever I have in the fridge.  If you use a hearty green vegetable or herb, these salads will generally keep in the fridge for several days.

What you need

  • The base:  cooked or canned beans, whole grains, or al dente whole grain pasta.  None of these require chopping! 
  • Green vegetable or herb (preferably leafy)
  • One or more vegetable or fruit of contrasting color (cut into bite sized pieces)
  • Rich stuff (optional): toasted nuts or seeds, cheese, avocado, bacon, etc.
  • Vinaigrette : olive oil with citrus juice or vinegar + whatever flavorings you feel like

What to do:  Combine all ingredients and season with salt and pepper.

Possible end results:



  1. Mmmmmm.. all of those look delicious! 🙂

  2. Every one of those salads looks awesome. I love salads with beans. They are so filling and you can vary them a lot. Yum. I know what I’m having for lunch now!

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