I have friends who don’t eat red meat, but eat poultry, or eat just grass fed beef and free range chicken. Or who eat none of the above, but just fish, or just shellfish, or no flesh of any animal at all but will eat cheese and eggs. Or are total vegans and will have nothing to do with anything that comes from an animal. And then there are the friends with allergies – to wheat, to nuts, to dairy. Or they’re on a diet and juicing or cleansing or fasting.
Large salads are the only answer to this. Sometimes you don’t know what your friends’ food issues are so be prepared with a really big salad for people to eat. And those without issues will like it too. But you might want to put cheese and anything vaguely exotic like anchovies, or capers or nuts in little bowls on the side.
I’ve recently gotten into Caesar salads and came up with a very easy version:
– 1 head of romaine lettuce chopped into pieces, rinsed and whirled in a salad spinner. This is the secret (which you and the whole world probably knows): after you spin the lettuce place the spinner in the fridge for a couple of hours so the lettuce is chilled and crisp. I just learned this; out of sheer laziness I gave up on my spinner and served about a decade’s worth of limp lettuce salads. I am now in love with my salad spinner and use it for anything green and leafy.)
– 1 can of anchovies drained and chopped
– Parmesan cheese to taste (I use 1/3 cup)
– Croutons (These are so easy and economical to make that I never buy them. You cut up stale bread, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with kosher salt, toss in a bowl until all the bread is lightly coated with oil, then either fry or bake until crisp. You can add garlic, or spices or whatever makes you happy in a crouton.)
– Dressing: prepared Caesar salad dressing (Trader Joes has a very good one) mixed to taste – I do half and half – with olive oil and lemon juice, which makes it taste fresher and lighter. This is the one time I use a prepared dressing, but a little bit of this one gives the salad a good flavor and saves you a lot of work.