RECIPE OF THE WEEK: Elevated Takes on Our Childhood Favorites

And how last week's salad challenge took an unexpected turn.
Publish date:
January 5, 2015
xoFood, recipes, pizza, salads, Recipe Of The Week

So things got a little out of control last week. Just to recap: The assignment was "The Super Life-Affirming Salad to Start Your Year Off Right." Well, you guys played really loose and fast with the word salad and voted in a pizza as the recipe of the week.

I’m not mad. No one is mad. In fact, the most up-voted comment from last week's ROTW was:

That could be the title of my memoir, honestly. Well, that or Are You Going to Finish That? The Claire Lower Story. Both are good options.

Anyway, rules are rules, and looking back on the first ROTW, I see that I never said the most up-voted recipe had to be on topic. It was one of those things I didn’t think needed to be said, but here we are.

Luckily, this salad that is not a salad is delicious. I made it on Sunday morning (well, 11:30 a.m.), and by the end of the day, it was gone. It looked like this:

I used Trader Joe’s pizza dough and made the sauce as instructed. As mentioned by katiedid13, it’s a riff on Marcella Hazan’s recipe. If you have not made Marcella Hazan’s tomato sauce before, I recommend you do so as soon as you possibly can. In addition to substituting carrots for onion (I used two large carrots, cut into large chunks), I also added half a teaspoon of sumac, a souring agent that can be kind of difficult to find (spoiler: it’s at Whole Foods).

The pizza salad was sweet, orange, and cheesy. There are a total of five cheeses on this thing, but the feta is key. The saltiness really complements the caramelized sweetness of the roasted sweet potato, so much so that I was inspired to sprinkle some on a baked sweet potato. If I were to make any changes, I might switch out the balsamic glaze for straight balsamic vinegar. A little acid might be a nice balance for all the sweetness, but the glaze was also delicious so maybe just don’t mess with it.

Because katiedid13 was nice enough to share a picture of her puppy with us, her trophy is a picture of Angie, wrapped in her blanket that she got for Christmas:

In terms of traditional salads, the most up-voted was a simple but stunning arugula option from NTKO Doc Amicles, who also recently obtained her PhD in biochemistry. I’m not sure if becoming a doctor or winning ROTW is the bigger deal, but we should congratulate her on both, just to be safe.

I, too, could eat this simple salad multiple times a day, and I, too, added cherry tomatoes. The salad is bright, salty, and a perfect base for almost any other toppings you care to add. It’s also pretty healthy, with lemon, olive oil, and salt and pepper taking the place of a sugary salad dressing.

In celebration of this winning salad and the whole “finishing a super challenging program in a super challenging field” thing, NTKO Doc Amicles’ trophy is this (drunk) picture of me at my college graduation party, holding dorky salt and pepper shakers. (They are cleverly labeled “NaCl and Pe + (Pe)r.)

And because I have the power, I am also choosing to include this lacinato kale salad from shinesrightthrough, because I really appreciate her recipe-writing skills.

Note: Lacinato kale is also called "Tuscan kale," so if you can't find the former, look for the latter.

This little salad is filling and delicious. I didn't even realize it was vegan until about halfway through. Due to the nature of kale, it's pretty hearty and stays good in the fridge for a few days without getting too soggy. I was so enthusiastic about this salad, I texted my vegan friend a picture all "Look! Food we would both enjoy eating!" He agreed that it sounded delicious.

I may or may not have added feta once the picture was sent.

Your trophy, shinesrightthrough, is a picture of this very energetic giraffe that kept running around and annoying all the other giraffes, because that is how this salad makes me feel.

All right! Now that the trophies have all been handed out, it's time to move on to our next topic. If I learned anything from last week, it's that you are a creative bunch and that creativity should be encouraged, not stifled. So I'm giving you two options, a kind of ROTW "choose your own adventure," if you will.

These are the options:

A) An elevated take on a childhood favorite, be it a hot dog, mac and cheese, tuna melt, whatever. I ate a lot of melted cheese as a child, and when I say "melted cheese," I mean cheese, melted, on a plate. (In the microwave.) If any of you can elevate that one, I will be very impressed.

B) Some sort of fancy food, taken down a few pegs. This could be a snobby ingredient, used in a common way or "low brow" application, like deep-fried lobster. Or it could be a typically cost prohibitive dish, made with more affordable ingredients.

C) Some combination of both, like putting caviar on a hot dog (assuming a hot dog was your childhood favorite).

Okay, I'm super excited about this one, so I'm going to let you guys have at it! Go forth, my friends! Go forth and be hungry!