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Masterchef – Salads

You know that leafy, green stuff that chicks eat?

Salad. It’s not food. It’s what food eats. And yet, after the meat-engorged holidays, and with summer on its way, well, something must be done. The dude does not abide. Plus the wedding season will soon be upon us. We all want to look our best. I know I do. I myself have a big wedding coming up and I can’t make any excuses or try to get out of it because if I do, my fiancée will be really pissed. So, it’s salad time.

Which is a problem. It is difficult to find a decent salad in this city of carnivores. True, there is some excellent taboula and fatoush around, but these come next to kibda and wara2 3enab and kofta and kebab and makhaasi and the temptations are just too great. So forget that. I also like Cairo Kitchen’s salad bar which is fresh and innovative.

But for the most part salad bars suck and they most certainly don’t do the trick if you want to slim down. Sure, a salad bar is a good idea in theory, but once you add the processed cheese cubes, bits of fried, breaded Koki chicken, the sodium and chemicals from canned mushrooms, canned corn, canned olives and frozen peas; once you’ve smothered your giant salad bowl in ranch dressing, you might as well have gone for that Big Mac and fries in the first place.

So we’re going to have to do it at home.

The last time I wrote a recipe for Cairo Scenario, the response was massive. Okay, I got one message (thank you Reem!), but compared to most weeks, the numbers are way up, so yeah, massive by my standards. Anyway, I thought I’d try it again and go for two this time.

The first obstacle to making an awesome salad is that you actually have to get up off your ass and go to the supermarket. If you order produce delivery, they will for sure send you shit. So burn a few extra micro-kilos by getting in your car and driving the three blocks to the store.

Now you may not have been inside one of these places before, so I’m going to walk you through it. Somewhere close to the front door you’ll find a whole bunch of stuff that is neither frozen, canned, in bags, or in boxes. This is where you want to be.

Next, latch onto some lonely old person and have them help you buy the freshest fruit and veg. Anything will do. Get whatever you like the best. You might not have seen carrots and tomatoes and things like that in the wild before, but don’t be scared; this is what it actually looks like before your Mom’s cook fixes it up in the kitchen and sets it out on the dining table.

Get some herbs. The green things in the little plastic bags. Basil, mint, kosbara, maybe even some ruccola or gargir. Don’t get lettuce. Lettuce is for suckers.

Get some olive oil too. And some of your favorite vinegar. And maybe some garlic if you don’t have either a date or a spastic colon. You’re good to go.

When you get home, make your suffragi wash this stuff and chop it up into similar sizes (not too small) while you watch an episode of How I Met Your Mother. Get him to grate a little garlic while he’s at it and pick the leaves off the herbs while he’s at it (if you’ve really got a lot of stuff and are making a huge salad, you might have to watch an episode of Gossip Girl as well).

Now you are ready to be a Master-ninja-chef and to make your first amazing unfuckwithable salad.

Find a nice bowl. Get creative throwing in various amounts of whatever you’ve got, but don’t just dump it all in there. Colors and quantities should balance each other out. If some of the veggies are left over, that’s okay. You can keep them in the fridge for another time. Don’t worry. Your roommates won’t touch them.

Be sure to mix in some of the herbs. They have great flavor. Beyond that, be creative and do whatever you want. Throw in some apple, maybe some sliced parmesan. I sometimes toss in cashews or walnuts. You want the textures to be varied too. Tomatoes and cucumbers are boring. Use broccoli or fresh peas (you have to steam those first) or spring onions or slices of orange.

For your salad dressing, which we snobs call vinaigrette, use three parts olive oil to one part vinegar. Add some salt and pepper and a bit of the grated garlic. Stir and taste. Always taste before putting it on your salad. Stir in a little Dijon mustard too if you want to get fancy. Or maybe just a touch of honey. Or both. But taste the damn stuff before you dump it all on there. And don’t dump it all at once. Toss it into your salad gradually until you’ve got just the right moistness. Or even serve it separately in a small pitcher and let your guests do it the way they want, but keep a little spoon in there, because it has to be stirred up before each pour. You see, oil and vinegar don’t mix, which is why they make the perfect complement to the salata baladi that you call your circle of friends.

Voila. You rock.


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