“Italian Sub” Salad

Well that was an unexpected absence. The past four months since I last posted have gone by in an absolute blur and I have absolutely nothing to show for it, besides my muffin top.

Stress eating is a hell of a thing.

ANYWAY.

I used to work in the deli department of a small grocery store in the Pocono Mountains. For those of you not familiar with the Poconos (And there’s like ten of you that read this blog regularly, I know you’re familiar with the Poconos. This is for the OTHER ten people that might stumble upon my ramblings and need a little back story, I’m saying.), there is a large population of people that have transplanted from New Jersey and New York to the area over the past 30 years or so  and have made it their home.

With New Yorkers and New Jersians (Jersey-ites?) come New York and New Jersey foods. Excellent pizza, Italian bakeries, bagels, and delis are all over Monroe County, and the deli I worked in was…

Eh, it was alright. It was cramped and the floor was sticky sometimes and it was a revolving door of college-aged losers (OH HAYYYYYYY) that were too young to go to the bars every night but needed money for the movies and Chinese food. We made awesome homemade salads and gigantic sandwiches and sold good cold cuts. I mean the really good ones.

I blame this job for my deli and sandwich snobbery and that pesky 50 lb weight gain after high school. (Hey, it had to come from somewhere, y’all.) To this day, I refuse to buy cold cuts from certain stores, and am very particular about the Italian subs I order.

The subs we made back in that deli were great – meat, cheese, and veggies stuffed to almost bursting on soft, chewy Italian rolls delivered to us every morning. Our Italian subs were my personal favorite – black pepper-coated ham, spicy Capicola ham (or Gabbagool, as my regulars would call it), hard salami, and sharp provolone cheese. I always preferred mine with lettuce, tomato, a couple hot peppers, and lots of oil and vinegar. Oh, dudes. You think Wawa‘s Italian subs are good? PFFT. Wawa ain’t got nothing on these. (But FYI Primo‘s Sharp Italians are pretty close.)

Unfortunately, the store I used to work in burned down a few years back and was never rebuilt. So you may never know the delight that is a Hilltop Market Italian sub made by yours truly. But you can have this salad, which might be a close second.

Gather your ingredients:

Romaine lettuce, cherry tomatoes, red onion, pepper ham, hard salami, capicola ham, provolone cheese, sandwich pepperoni, and jarred hot pepperoncini peppers. For the dressing, a little mayo, white vinegar, salt, pepper, and a mess of grated parmesan cheese.

First, the dressing.

Mayo, vinegar, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Add grated parmesan. Whisk violently.

Okay, maybe not violently. Set aside.

Chop up romaine, slice cherry tomatoes in half, slice onion thinly. Add to large bowl.

Like so.

Prepare the cold cuts by layering the pepper ham, capicola, salami, provolone, and pepperoni on top of each other. Roll the entire thing like a log, and slice.

Thusly.

Assemble your Avengers salad: Place sliced rolled cold cuts on the lettuce mixture, and add sliced pepperoncinis. (Or don’t, if you don’t like delicious hot things. No judgement.)

Yes.

Drizzle with creamy parmesan dressing. Serve.

You can add or subtract any cold cut you desire, use different dressing, add some good crunchy/chewy croutons, etc. It’s kind of hard to mess up a salad, no? Unless you use bad cold cuts. Then I don’t know you.

“Italian Sub” Salad with Creamy Parmesan Dressing

  • 1 head romaine lettuce, shredded
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 1/2 small red onion, sliced thinly
  • Sliced black pepper ham
  • Sliced spicy capicola ham
  • Sliced hard salami
  • Sliced pepperoni (look for sandwich or “slicing” pepperoni, not the small slices for pizza
  • Jarred hot pepperoncini peppers

Toss lettuce, tomato, and onion in a large bowl. Stack sliced cold cuts and cheese. Roll into a log and slice. Top salad with rolled cold cuts and pepperoncinis. Top with dressing and serve.

Dressing:

  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 2-3 Tb white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup grated parmiggiano-reggiano cheese
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper.

Whisk all ingredients together in a bowl and pour over salad (use more or less vinegar to get desired consistency).

This is so easy and delicious it almost feels wrong.

 

 

 

 

 

Creamy Cucumber Salad

This salad has been a staple in my family for years during the steamy months of summer, especially when dad’s garden had a plethora of cucumbers. It’s simple enough to throw together in a pinch, and the sweet/tangy flavors make it a great accompaniment to almost anything. 

Five ingredients. Could this salad BE any easier?

Mix your dressing together first: Mayo, vinegar, a touch of sugar, salt, and pepper. Start will small(er) amounts. Whisk whisk whisk. Taste. If it’s too sweet, add a touch more vinegar. Too much vinegar? Add a bit more mayo. Taste again. Perfect.

Peel and slice cucumbers. I removed the seeds because I think they give me the burps. You can leave them in, though. Most people do.

Cut a red onion in half, remove the root end, slice in three lengthwise, then slice across thinly.

Toss cucumber and onion in the bowl with the dressing. Stir to combine and place in fridge for at least an hour to allow flavors to combine.

A tip: Don’t make a huge batch of this and expect to eat it all week. I don’t think it keeps very well past a day or two.

Creamy Cucumber Salad

  • 2 large cucumbers, peeled and sliced. (Seeds removed, if preferred)
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced thinly.
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 TBS granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper

In a bowl, combine mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper. Whisk thoroughly. Taste and adjust as needed. Toss cucumber and onion with dressing and stir to combine. Place in refrigerator for at least an hour to allow flavors to combine, and serve.

Someone pass the barbecued chicken thighs.

Quick and Simple Recipe: Meditteranean-Style Bulgur Wheat Salad (AKA Not Tabbouleh)

I didn’t make tabbouleh this weekend.

I made a salad that tastes a whole lot like tabbouleh. And it looks…a little bit like tabbouleh. But it’s not tabbouleh, in the truest most traditional sense. And I’m okay with that.

Start with bulgur wheat, cooked. I get mine from the bulk bins at my local grocery store. Cook 1 cup of bulgur in 2 cups of water at a low simmer for 15-20 minutes or until the water is absorbed. Set aside and let cool.

Now get to chopping. Seed and dice 1/2 english (hothouse) cucumber, finely dice one half a red onion, dice 4 plum tomatoes, mince 2 cloves of garlic, and finely chop a large bunch of italian parsley.

Toss all vegetables with the bulgur, dress with 2 TB olive oil, the juice of two lemons, and season with salt and pepper. Serve as is.

Or throw tradition totally out the window and top with a little crumbled feta cheese.

Because who doesn’t like a little culinary anarchy every now and then?

Meditteranean Style Bulgur Wheat Salad

  • 1 cup bulgur, cooked
  • 1/2 english cucumber, seeded, diced
  • 1/2 red onion, finely diced
  • 4 plum tomatoes, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 bunch of parsley, chopped fine
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • 2 TB olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • crumbled feta, optional

Cook bulgur according to directions. Set aside and let cool. Add all vegetables, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Stir together and refrigerate for a few hours to let flavors combine. Top with crumbled feta (if desired) and serve.

Steakhouse Style Wedge Salad

This is another ridiculously easy recipe; I made it as a side to another dish I’ll be writing up soon-ish, and I figured what the heck, I’ll write this up too. Plus I want to keep the habit of posting regularly and it’s almost bed time and this was the best I could do short notice, so.

I love the flavors in a wedge salad. The “salad” part is just a big hunk of iceberg lettuce, but it’s the toppings you add that make it really special. I see it once in a while on a menu when I go out for dinner and I always consider ordering it, but then I think “Why would I pay twelve dollars for it here when I can make it at home for half that?”

So that’s what I did.

For this I had scallions, crispy onions, bacon, blue cheese dressing, and crumbled blue cheese. I made it easy on myself by buying the precooked bacon. Just one less step and ten minutes faster to salad perfection.

You can make it your own with chives, diced tomatoes, crispy prosciutto instead of bacon (ooh, yum), a different dressing…you get the idea.

Steakhouse Style Wedge Salad

Iceberg lettuce, quartered

3 slices of bacon, cooked and sliced thinly

3 scallions, thin sliced

2 TB blue cheese crumbles

2 TB blue cheese dressing

2 TB crispy salad onions

Top lettuce with bacon, scallions, dressing, cheese, and onions and serve. Goes well with a medium rare steak, but don’t let me tell you what to do.

See? Stupidly, ridiculously easy.

But hey, it counts as a blog post. BAM.