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Why salad shouldn't be a main course

(post, Laura Parisi)

On Mondays at my office we have this thing called Salad Days. The idea is that everyone brings in lettuce and a topping to share, the office supplies the salad dressing, and together we eat our healthy greens. It's great in theory, but I've been opposed to Salad Days from the start. Here's why:

I love salads. Love them! Nothing beats an arugula salad with shaved Parmesan and a light homemade vinaigrette. Or greens with apple, green onion and avocado. Or radicchio and endive with bleu cheese. The possibility with salads are virtually endless, and, of course, need not begin or end with lettuce. But salads are just NOT supposed to be main dishes, ESPECIALLY when they are made with bagged lettuce topped in a smorgasbord of conflicting toppings and finished with bottled Newman's Own dressing. 

(I also harbor more than a touch of resentment that I should be expected to share my delicious farmer's market goodies in exchange for Bacos and flavorless grape tomatoes from Costco.)

I guess I should also should point out that I have a ravenous appetite. I have to eat something substantive about every two hours or I get extremely irritable and cranky. Which is to say: if I am hungry, do not cross my path. 

But last week, I attempted to go with the flow and eat just a salad for lunch like everyone else. I consumed an entire head of red-leaf lettuce with more than my fair share of toppings that did not complement each other (including smoked salmon for protein). I portioned out 4 tablespoons of salad dressing, or twice the recommended servings size--still not quite enough for the entire head of lettuce. In the end? I'd consumed about 30 grams of fat and I was STILL STARVING. I'd have been better off just eating a damn hamburger. Which is what I wanted when I was done.

Salads, in my opinion, are meant to be small, decadent, nutrient-rich side dishes that accompanies a more substantive main course. Get your greens from your salad and fill up on something else. 

Anyway, I hate to be Oscar the Grouch and everyone else in the office seems to be really into the Salad Days thing. (Probably also helps that no one else appears to need as much food as I do.) So I've been thinking: maybe next week I'll bring a pasta salad? And chicken salad? With lasagna served atop a bed of spinach?

Because if I'm going to fill up on a salad, it's going to take a little thinking outside of the boxed organic baby greens.