Salad restaurant chains have become big business as of late. When I first moved to NYC in mid-2009, I was kind of…well…confused by the concept of delis and sandwich shops crafting made to order salads. Perhaps it was my own introversion that caused me to not want to take a container of greens to a guy behind a salad bar and tell him what vegetables I wanted in it. Couldn’t I go to a salad bar myself and craft my own? I was capable!
In 2014, a Just Salad popped up a few blocks away from my Upper East Side office, and it was somewhat of a godsend. Still, my first trip there was dicey, because I sucked up my introversion, got a made – to – order salad…and was $15 dollars poorer by the end. From that point on, I stuck to salads that were on the menu and dealt with the loud cutting of vegetables and shouts of salad makers asking how much dressing I wanted. Though it’s certainly convenient on some work days, I’m definitely a fair weather friend. Works in a pinch, but I’ve never been blown away by the quality or price.
About a week ago, a coveted Sweetgreen opened adjacent to the Columbia campus. Boasting organic and local salad fixings coupled with a popularity swell among many of my fellow social media food friends, I could not resist the call! I stood in line for a good 15 minutes among chattering Columbia students. How I survived that ordeal is beyond me. (Were any conversation I had at the age of 20 as vacant-sounding as the ones I had to endure overhearing? GOD, I hope not…) Still, compared to Just Salad, I’ll take their higher price point for what, in my opinion, is a much superior salad. It was crisp, fresh, and filling.
That being said, I am not a person that can afford to spend a lot of money on a salad. $10 – $13 a pop is a dent in my already hemorrhaging wallet. I’m a person that easily can go to my local Fine Fare, grab a couple of things, and spend $5 on enough ingredients to make many salads. Case in point:
Kale: $2.99 a bunch
Macintosh Apple: 39 cents
Anjou Pear: 45 cents
Cabot Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese: $3.99
Walnuts: $6.99 for a one pound bag
I used a 1/3 of the kale, half of the apple, half of the pear, two ounces of the cheese, and an ounce of walnuts. I made the salad (sans dressing) comparable to my Sweetgreen’s salad for roughly $2.87.
Seriously. If you can, make your own damn salads, people. 😉
Kale Salad with Apples, Pears, & Cheddar
(Serves 1 as a meal salad, Serves Two as a side salad)
– 1/3 of a average-sized bunch of kale, rinsed, ribs removed, and torn
– 1/2 large apple, rinsed and diced, skin on
– 1/2 large pear, rinsed and diced, skin on
– 2 ounces cheddar cheese, diced
– 1 ounce walnuts
– 1 tablespoon olive oil
Apple Cider Vinaigrette:
-1/4 cup olive oil
-1/3 apple cider vinegar
-A few shakes of garlic powder, to taste
-A few dashes of salt, to taste
1.) In a large bowl, add kale and olive oil. Massage olive oil into kale for approximately 30 – 60 seconds or until leaves are evenly coated in oil.
2.) Toss fruits, cheese, and walnuts into kale.
3.) Toss with Apple Cider Vinaigrette or vinaigrette of choice.
4.) Serve immediately; if storing, place in airtight container. This salad will stay fresh in fridge for up to three days.